Bonus post today, because I was thinking about what I had written and felt I hadn’t been entirely truthful.
I was really proud of the presentation that I had made, and I was really proud of the way that the majority of my audience was curious and willing to learn. But to write about my presentation as entirely positive would be less than honest.
There was one participant who asked, “What about Teases?”
I went into the presentation preparing to meet the pledges where they were, and listen to their points of view. I knew that I had to be sensitive in order to prevent people from being defensive. So, what did I say? I asked, “What do you mean?”
“What about girls who dress like they’re saying yes, but all they’re saying is no?”
I knew that my knee jerk reaction was to tell this guy that he was a problem. But I wanted to put forth a teachable moment. “Everyone has a right to dress as they please without anyone infering any intention or motivation about their mode of dress,” I said.
Christina, my good friend, jumped in and said, “Listen do what they’re saying,” she said. “If she says no, she means no, no matter what she’s wearing!”
“She’s right,” I confirmed. “That’s the easy way to say it. ”
The good news is that the young man with this question was not a pledge, and neither was he a member — he was someone who desperately wanted to be a member of the fraternity but had so far been denied. From the point of view of someone who hopes that future generations of the fraternity learn to respect women again, I hope he’s never initiated.
I spoke recently with the President and Security Officer privately, telling them this entire tale. They were by turns offended, and wished I had told them sooner — they wanted to yell and scream. I told them that yelling and screaming wasn’t going to change a thing.
I told them that I was willing to keep doing a presentation on Sexual Etiquette for as long as the members of the fraternity knew who I was. But in making that promise I want to continue to improve. I want to be able to answer questions about false accusation of rape. I want to be able to paint a picture about how members may aid and abeit rape, even if they’re never rapists themselves. (Truly horrifying story from Howard University in DC about men who helped another man rape, and the police who denied that it was a crime.) I want to continue improving, continue to learn facts and figures and statistics and to be able to answer real, challenging questions.
So, this story isn’t done. But it’s pausing here.
(Readers, have you ever faced harassment? How did you handle it? If you were going to put together an anti-sexual assault training, what would you include?)
This post is fifth in a series.