The Tulane Hullabaloo

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

To submit a letter to the editor, email it to [email protected]

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6 Comments

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

  1. YAS on March 19th, 2018 10:23 am

    Alyssa Liehr 4 president

  2. Whitney Mackman on March 20th, 2018 6:12 pm

    As the creator and producer of CockTales, I can say Alyssa did not do her due diligence of research, nor did she even speak with me to educate herself about the play. No one is patting “good rapists” on the back. There are no good rapists. But there are people out there who have hurt others, who have taken responsibility for their actions (instead of blaming their victims), and are trying to change the rape culture. If the conversation around sexual assault is going to change, then someone other than the victims need to speak up about stopping sexual violence. How will you be inclusive if you never hear from those who are causing the problem? By only having victims speak, you are making it their responsibility. You offer no solutions. Yes, it’s 2018, and this is still seen as a gendered issue that women are responsible for. And it’s 2018, and you can publish opinions without fully researching or knowing what something is about. I challenge you to open your mind and come to the show. It’s not what you think.

  3. Alyssa Liehr on March 21st, 2018 7:08 pm

    As the purpose of what I wrote clearly stated, the language of the event was extremely problematic, which is what I discussed in the letter; further research and discussion was not required to understand that quotes like “tales by men about a woman who made them a better man” by sexually assaulting them is clear as day misogynistic. Furthermore, this is a sorry excuse for what you consider “taking responsibility.” I think you are forgetting that sexual assault is a crime; if someone had gotten up on stage to read a monologue about how they murdered someone or even mugged someone last week, but now understand their actions to be wrong and are now a better man, no one would accept that as taking responsibility. Its a perpetuation of rape culture and privilege to be able to get on stage and admit to a literal crime and suffer absolutely no repercussions for your actions. And if we want to talk about due diligence, then where was inclusion or discussion with any one of the multitude of professionals on this campus who do sexual violence prevention for a living regarding the event?

  4. Kate H on March 22nd, 2018 6:13 pm

    What an unprofessional response for a professor to give to a student. Shame on you, Whitney Mackman

  5. CJ on March 21st, 2018 1:40 am

    I’ve seen CockTales. You have a severe misunderstanding of the message and intent of the play. The conversation around sexual assault needs to evolve, and prevention starts with boys. CockTales is not a platform to applaud or forgive men. The men are taking responsibility and calling on other men to stop sexual violence. You should see it, it is a very powerful play and an important and necessary part of the conversation.

  6. Ryan H on March 22nd, 2018 2:30 am

    This event dangerously gives abusers platform through which they can elicit sympathy from a crowd.

    Let’s think of this event in the larger context of abuse. Many theorists consider that the cycle of abuse consists of 5 stages (Tension Building, Acute Violence, Reconciliation, Calm, Repeat). What is of interest here is the honeymoon faze. The honeymoon faze occurs after an acute episode of abuse, and is characterized by affection and apology. The abuser promises they will cease their abuse and will do their best to change. The cunning of these abusers and the vulnerability of the victim often make it so the victim will hold onto the shred of hope that their abuser will change.

    The framing of this event reinforces the gaslighting of victims. This event feeds into the toxic narrative that through violence, abusers can change. It makes us feel sympathy for them: “they didn’t know it was wrong! They just didn’t know better!” To all the readers, if a person abuses you, please find help. Your abuse is not a part of a perpetrator’s self-discovery. Your abuse is an inexcusable violation of your inherent worth and right to safety. There are resources and people (such as SAPHE and Case Management and Victim Services) who can help.

    Women (and men, and non-binary folks, and LGBTQ+ folks) are often held captive in abusive intimate partner violence relationships waiting for their abuser to realize their inherent worth. People will cling to their abuser until the violence escalates to murder or severe mutilation. After the fact, people will not come forward and prosecute their abuser, because they have been told that a lukewarm apology or the assurance from others that “________ isn’t such a bad person. He/she/they are nice enough to me” is enough. I call bullshit.

    In our rape culture, we are bombarded with messages that silence victims attempt to elicit sympathy for perpetrators. If we want to hear their perspective, we could turn on our TVs, listen to conversations outside the Boot, or check the Twitter account of our President.

    I hope this does not come off as a personal attack. I am sure the creator’s intention is to prevent sexual violence, and I applaud that. However, this does not negate the fact that this event will reinforce dangerous myths about abuse

    Sincerely Ryan,
    another individual who’s job isn’t to make men better men.

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Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans
Letter to the Editor: No, I’m not interested in applauding perpetrators of sexual violence