A University Of Arizona junior named Dean Saxton was photographed last Tuesday standing on campus holding a sign reading “You Deserve Rape” while yelling insults at students. Saxton, who fancies himself a preacher and delivers sermons on campus, told the Daily Wildcat newspaper, emphasis mine, “If you dress like a whore, act like a whore, you’re probably going to get raped. I think that girls that dress and act like [whores], they should realize they do have partial responsibility, because I believe they’re pretty much asking for it.”
He is simply bold enough to verbalize what a lot of people in our rape culture already think about how women deserve violence against them. But if I were working in administration for UA, I would be down on my knees praying that Saxton is not a ticking time bomb who doesn’t actually go and rape some “whore” on campus who was “asking for it.”
Alas, Saxton’s statements are apparently well within UA’s current code of conduct. UA’s interim dean of students told the Daily Wildcat student newspaper his monkey business, sensitively held before the Take Back The Night event on campus, isn’t punishable because it’s not a direct threat towards anyone specific. “We find it to be vulgar and vile,” Kendal Washington White told the Wildcat. “However, it is protected speech. He has yet to, at this point, violate the student code of conduct.”
I’m not a First Amendment scholar by any means. But I think you could make the case that Dean Saxton is making a threat against students, particularly the female ones. When he says “whores” and “girls,” he is referring to all women on campus. Seriously, UA’s response is just an indication of how deeply rape culture’s acceptance of violence against women is entrenched in our society: If it was a Muslim student ranting about jihad and carrying a sign reading “You Deserve To Get Blown Up,” something tells me he’d had been in jail last Tuesday.
The University of Arizona is holding a counter-protest tomorrow from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on campus. You can read more about it here.