Men, We Need You | Thoughts on the Vanderbilt Rape Investigation
After catching word of the recent Vanderbilt sex scandal in which four football players were dismissed for alleged sex crimes, I tuned in horror hoping, praying the team I’ve always supported wasn’t really involved. The names of the players were just released and the investigation is ongoing. Recent news quotes former Volunteers quarterback Erik Ainge saying that one Vanderbilt football player allowed three of his teammates to rape his girlfriend after a night of drinking.
I’ve been frantically reading the news about Egypt and the gang rape happening in the midst of the revolution and now to see it in my own backyard at my Alma Mater was just too much. The violence against women in Egypt and the violence against Vanderbilt women send the same message:
You don’t matter.
It tells women they deserve to abused, that they are no more than a body, that they have no worth outside of their bodies. Rape sends the message that women are less than human. That their voice, their desires, and their worth doesn’t matter.
I was a Vanderbilt student once. I had boyfriends. It could have been me; it could be any of us women that walk onto college campuses hoping for the best four years of our lives. Statistics show that 1 in 5 college women will be sexually assaulted, and I found this resoundingly true during my time at Vanderbilt. We walk through the gates full of anticipation and eagerness and many, far too many, leave as silenced survivors.
The truth is men will continue to rape because evil will always exist. Men will continue to look into a woman’s (or man’s) eyes and take what isn’t their’s to take—something they can never give back. Women will continue to lose their voice and spend years fighting to speak again.
But I have a question for each of you reading this:
Where were the other players? Where were the friends who caught word of what would happen and did nothing? What were all the bystanders doing when this girl was being taken back to a dorm to be raped by four men she knew?
“All it takes for evil to persist is for good men to do nothing.” –Edmund Burke
Where were the good men? Where are the strong men who maybe risking reputation or possibly a good beating stood up to the evil and said, “NO.” There are no innocent bystanders in these situations. If you’ll remember from the Sandusky case, there were coaches and others that knew something wasn’t right or even saw conclusive evidence that assault took place and did absolutely nothing. They stayed silent and thereby allowed little boys to be silenced. They acted not in love, but in fear.
In a world where gender roles are increasingly blurred, I want to state something that goes against popular belief: women need good men. We need you. We need men of integrity to put your reputations, your fears, and your pride on the line for us and help protect us from evil. Certainly, we can help each other, but there is something missing if evil is only fought by good women. Men, I beg you not to be an innocent bystander. I beg you stand against evil on our behalf. Warn us, call the police, have a conversation—something, anything other than passively standing by. For truly, sexual violence will continue to pervade every part of the globe and creep into those places we once deemed ‘safe’ unless we stand together.
Good men, I beg you not to remain silent. We need more like David Cameron leading the crack down on internet pornography in the UK in order to stop the violence against women and girls. Men, we desperately need you to shake your fist in the face of evil and declare, “no more.” Make an honorable, courageous stand against evil and shine light into the darkest corners where women are losing their voices.
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