Earlier this week young men at Georgia Tech received an email signed “In luring rapebait” that instructed them to, among other things, grab women “on the hips with your 2 hands and then let them grind against your dick.” In October of last year a woman filed a lawsuit against Wesleyan University citing a fraternity known on campus as the “rape factory.” At Miami University of Ohio someone thought it was a good idea hang a poster titled “Top Ten Ways to Get Away with Rape,” which closed with, “If your [sic] afraid the girl might identify you slit her throat.” A University of Vermont fraternity surveyed members in 2011 with this question: “If you could rape someone, who would it be?” At USC, two years ago, some boys released a Gullet Report (named for a “gullet,” defined as “a target’s mouth and throat. Most often pertains to a target’s throat capacity and it’s [sic] ability to gobble cock. If a target is known to have a good gullet, it can deep-throat dick extremely well. Good Gullet Girls (GGG) are always scooped up well before last call.”). For good measure they added some overtly racist material as well. Five years ago, Yale’s Zeta Psi fraternity took photos of members holding up signs reading, “We love Yale sluts.” Another fraternity had fun running around campus singing, “No means yes! Yes means anal!” Meanwhile, the school’s recommended punishment for sexual assault violations was a written reprimand. In 2012 Yale reached an agreement with the Department of Education, which launched a Title IX investigation in the wake of the song and similar incidents.
None of this is unique to the United States. In the United Kingdom, the first part of the academic year is called Freshers’ Week, and similar behavior by boys is written off as lad culture. In early September, at St Mary’s University in Canada, more than 80 students sang this ditty during an orientation event: “Y is for ‘Your sister’, O is for ‘Oh so tight’, U is for ‘Underage’, N is for ‘No consent’, G is for ‘Grab that ass.’” Wales’ Cardiff Metropolitan University hung a poster for orientation week events that featured a man wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the text: “I was raping a woman last night and she cried.”
Young men are going to colleges and universities way too comfortable expressing themselves in exploitative, sexist ways that denigrate their female peers and are corrosive to the academic environment. In addition, the notion that rape is a serious crime for which they can be held responsible seems not to have entered their heads. Somehow we’ve gotten to the point where discussing a person’s “rape potential” is a thing.