Letter to the Editor: No, I’m not interested in applauding perpetrators of sexual violence

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It came to my attention after mention of an article in the Hullabaloo earlier this week that an event titled “CockTales” is to be held on campus in Rogers Memorial on April 12 and 13. Upon further investigation, I found “CockTales” to be entirely self-described as a collection of monologues and confessions from men who are behind a woman’s #MeToo. The concept itself is problematic, but I find the language used in advertising the event, from the title down to its description, even more so. Last year’s event even sported the tagline, “Tales by men about a woman who made them a better man.”

An event like this adds fuel to the flame of creating the concept of the “good rapist,” one where acknowledging guilt equates to the exoneration of wrongdoing, where his experience is viewed as equally, if not more, important than the survivor’s. In fact, this idea is very deliberately touched on in last year’s event description, as it reads “The truth is, we need men the most in this fight.” If men being involved in the fight against sexual violence means only giving perpetrators visibility and a platform when survivors are not afforded the same rights and have narratives that are so often sidelined, no freakin’ thank you.

The suggestion that rapists and perpetrators should and can be given a platform for merely admitting to committing acts of sexual violence is a disconcerting precedent to set. The perpetuation of a mindset where admitting wrongdoing is enough. Not only is it not enough, but allowing gratitude to be shown, whether it be through applause, social capital or remarks of their courage for a perpetrator’s confession of sexual assault is abhorrently insulting to the victims that come forward each and every day who are met with disbelief, shame and victim-blaming.

And frankly, I’m just not interested in patting men on the back for confessing to perpetrating sexual violence. Girls are raised to walk home in the dark with our keys wedged between our fingers and our headphones out of our ears. And yet, it is a man admitting he has committed sexual violence that is considered brave.

Sexually assaulting someone and stripping someone of their basic human rights cannot be the vehicle used to stop you from being a shitty person. Victims are not responsible for being the mechanism for perpetrators to learn how to be better people.

Oh, and it’s 2018. Pretending sexual violence is purely an issue between a man and a woman is outdated, heteronormative and honestly, moving backward in the fight against sexual violence. It’s time to acknowledge and talk about the extraordinarily high rates of sexual violence afflicting the LGBTQ+ community. “Equality” isn’t equal until the conversation is inclusive and intersectional.

Sincerely,

Alyssa Liehr*

* a woman whose job sure as hell isn’t to make a man a better man

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