Dr. Jennifer W. Shewmaker

Parent, Educator, Author

Old Dominion Frat Case: No laughing matter

Old Dominion fraternity displays sexually suggestive signs at student drop off and gets suspended. Some say it’s just a joke, in poor taste but not suggestive of rape, while others say this behavior promotes rape culture on university campuses.

But in the wake of work such as John Krakauer’s Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town, the Steubenville and Maryville rape cases, and the Sayerville football case, one has to wonder if this is more than just a harmless joke. For the young women and men who are sexually assaulted by acquaintances while in college and high school, this is no laughing matter. And in our culture that struggles to support these victims and to better educate the systems in which they are living, we must take sexual assault seriously. It’s not hazing, it’s not a rite of passage, it’s a serious crime that harms people for many years to come.

We must be having difficult conversations with both our girls and our boys about sexual assault and consent. Although it may be hard, parents need to talk with their adolescents about very specific cases, such as those linked above, and ask questions like these:

  • “Do you think this girl or guy gave consent? Why or why not?”
  • “If you were the initiator in a situation where alcohol was involved, what would you do to make sure that you obtained consent from your partner?”
  • At what point do you know that the other person cannot consent to sexual behavior?”
  • And talk with your adolescents about their responsibilities as a bystander. “What would you do if you were at a party and saw someone having sexual relations with a person who was passed out?” “What would you do if you heard about or were shown pictures or videos of someone who appeared to be involved in a sexual activity when they were unconscious?”
  • Brainstorm possible solutions, such as finding the nearest adult, calling a parent and getting them involved, directly intervening, gathering a group to intervene, or calling the police. All of these are possible solutions that might be best in given situations. Providing your adolescent with the chance to think and talk through these difficult situations will leave them better prepared to respond if the chance arises.

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This entry was posted on August 25, 2015 by in Acting and tagged , , .
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