11/5/13

Dear Student

This Daily Campus editorial is getting attention all over the place. I suspect what's really going on is not so much misogyny and victim-blaming (as a change.org petition says) but sloppy thinking and bad writing.  Comments below.

"At the beginning of this school year, SMU students noticed a large number of alleged sexual assaults on campus, but is the blame being placed in the right place? Of course the perpetrators are the ones responsible for the crimes, but to solve the problem they can’t be the only ones taking blame."
Blame. Is that really the word you're looking for?  "Blame" connotes fault, responsibility, moral error.  Do rape victims really share moral responsibility with rapists?  I bet what you really have in mind is prevention and risk reduction.   Is your point really about blame or about people taking unnecessary risks? If so, say so!
"What is the common theme in the majority of sexual assault or rape cases on college campuses? Alcohol abuse.

According to a research study conducted by the Sarah Lawrence College, 50 percent of sexual assaults on and around college campuses are associated with alcohol use."
"Theme"?  No, real events in the world don't have themes.  "Factor"--that's the word you're looking for!
"Although it sounds harsh to place any blame on the victims of these incidents, if the media continues to place all the blame on the perpetrator, young college women will never learn that there is a way to help prevent these kinds of acts."
Is "blame" the word you're look for? I bet it isn't.  You wouldn't really want to see rape victims confess to any responsibility, would you? Then don't use the word "blame."
"The best way for women to prevent these assaults from happening to them is to never drink so much that they cannot control themselves or remember what happened the next day. If women quit putting themselves in situations where they appear vulnerable, it will be much less likely for men to try and take advantage of them.

But, it seems trying to tell college students not to drink too much is a very difficult message to get across when there isn’t a concrete reason why they should."
You tell women not to drink too much to avoid being victims.  Why don't you also tell men not to drink too much to avoid being perpetrators? 
"If the media would focus more attention on the fact that the majority of the women who are sexually assaulted are intoxicated, as opposed to stating and restating how horrible the perpetrator is, then maybe young women would start to listen."
Where'd you get this statistic?  It certainly doesn't follow from the Sarah Lawrence statistic you cited above.
"Over the summer, four Vanderbilt University football stars were accused of rape. The four men went to jail and were all over the news for months. The victim of the crime informed police and her friends that she was too intoxicated to remember the incident, so all of the details were found through a video camera in a Vanderbilt dorm where the incident occurred.

The news has not reported once that the victim was too intoxicated, but solely concentrates on the details of the perpetrators.

The details on the offenders should not be omitted, but how are young women supposed to learn from the incident when they don’t know the details?"
If the news never once reported that the victim was intoxicated, then how do you know it?
"Obviously the media doesn’t want to come off as insensitive by revealing details of the case that would make it seem they were placing any blame on the victim. But, in order to prevent future victims, viewers need to know the other side of things.
There's that word again.  The victim is not to blame.  Imagine you're robbed and didn't notice the perpetrator because you were plugged into your Ipod. Are you to blame for the fact that you were robbed? Surely you wouldn't think so.  You might have been able to avoid being robbed by taking more precautions, but it's not a question of blame.
"If the media begins to draw attention to the details of the sexual assault or rape victim it is hoped that young women will learn from the case, and there will be less sexual assault cases to report.

If college women decide they still don’t want to give up over drinking, hopefully they will at least come up with a game plan with their friends to prevent getting themselves into a vulnerable situation.

I am not promoting less sympathy for victims of these incidents or less media coverage of the perpetrators, because the victims are deserving of sympathy and the offenders deserve to have their faces on the news. But I think everyone, especially victims of these crimes, can agree that preventing future victims of sexual assault and rape is of upmost importance.

So media, please help prevent future victims of sexual assault and rape by reporting the other side of these cases, and young women, please wake up and realize that the majority of these incidents happen when the victims are intoxicated."
Not only are their critical thinking problems throughout this essay, but there are also writing problems.  "Preventing future victims of sexual assault and rape is of upmost importance."  You prevent crimes, not victims.  Not "upmost," "utmost"!

1 comment:

Beth Newman said...

You got that right, Jean. If I really could tear my hair out every time I read bad writing in the _Daily Campus_ I'd be completely bald.