We, the undersigned faculty, stand behind victims of sexual assault and want them to know that our campus is a place where they have a voice, where they will not be made to feel responsible and where they can find support and justice. If you have been the victim of unwanted sexual contact, under any circumstances, we can help you find the support you need from the campus groups listed below. As academics and members of the Princeton University community, these are the values we embrace. We encourage others to stand with us, for the integrity, health and well-being of all our students.
So reads part of a statement published in Princeton’s student newspaper, The Daily Princetonian, signed by dozens of staff members including writers Anne-Marie Slaughter and Joyce Carol Oates, in response to “Princeton Mom” Susan Patton’s recent remarks about rape. (Read the full statement here.) While Patton has made a name for herself in recent months for advocating that Princeton’s female population focus on finding a man while they’re in college, she’s also used the spotlight to crow about how women are what responsible for what happens to them when they are drunk, all but rolling her eyes at the existence of date rape. This staff statement is in direct response to an interview Patton did with The Daily Princetonian, in which she said the following when asked “Why does the woman hold the responsibility in the case of rape or sexual assault?”:
The reason is, she is the one most likely to be harmed, so she is the one that needs to take control of the situation. She is that one that needs to take responsibility for herself and for her own safety, and simply not allow herself to come to a point where she is no longer capable of protecting her physical self. The analogy that I would give you is: If you cross the street without looking both ways and a car jumps the light or isn’t paying attention, and you get hit by a car — as a woman or as anybody — and you say, ‘Well I had a green light,’ well yes you did have a green light but that wasn’t enough. So in the same way, a woman who is going to say, ‘Well the man should have recognized that I was drunk and not pushed me beyond the level at which I was happy to engage with him,’ well, you didn’t look both ways. I mean yes, you’re right, a man should act better, men should be more respectful of women, but in the absence of that, and regardless of whether they are or are not, women must take care of themselves.
I’m so pleased to see so many of Princeton’s staff members come together to contradict and stand against Patton’s dangerous and offensive statements, especially because if there’s anything that Susan Patton cares about, it’s what her beloved and exclusive alma mater thinks. Perhaps being publicly called out by the very people she considers the country’s elite will make her rethink her own views on date rape. Or at least get her to keep her victim-blaming opinions to herself. [Daily Princetonian via NYMag.com]