The Storm

My blog posting of just a few days ago has received unprecedented traffic and I am grateful for that because it has brought to my attention that the student whose participation in the facebook post caused my pedagogical crisis was not in fact my student.  I mistook the names and for that misidentification, I apologize. 
Regarding the privacy issue that has come up, I would like to point out that it was neither a breach of Facebook’s privacy policy nor of the university’s policies on social media. The quotations and screenshots were presented in situ, in context, and allowed any readers of the blog to form their own opinions based on the entirety of the facebook conversation as it had been presented up until that point.  The privacy issue, however, is secondary.
I want to take this opportunity to applaud the many students who have stepped forward to say that rape culture at the University of Guelph is unacceptable.  In particular, I would like to thank the brave students who have stepped forward to talk about their own experiences of sexual assault on campus and around the city.  Your stories are very moving. 
We live in a culture where to be sexually victimized is a double assault.  There is the primary assault, which is popularly condemned (though in actual practice is both on the rise and decreasingly prosecuted), and there are the myriad everyday events that question the victim’s sexual autonomy, dehumanize the victim, and turn a victim into an object for the sexual pleasure of others.  These women and men who have stepped forward on the facebook page, as well as in the comments of my blog and in personal emails to me, are personal inspirations to continue to teach and work for gender equity on campus and in the world.
Clearly, this is a discussion that this campus needs to have.  What we can learn from this experience as a university community is that we need to have more dialogue, more discussion, more open forums where students, faculty, staff, and the community can all address this issue on equal and open terms.
I’m sad to see that the entire thread has been removed from facebook because silencing the issue of rape culture on and around campus will not make the issue go away.  Only by talking about this and engaging in respectful dialogue that takes as its primary premise that rape is unacceptable can we possibly begin to develop a culture on campus where dehumanization is not the default, but the aberration.
Finally, I’d like to say that I am interested in opening that dialogue on campus.  If, however, there are those who honestly feel that your rights to freedom of speech and/or expression have been curtailed or your character maligned by my post, I encourage you to take up a grievance with the Human Rights and Equity Office at the University of Guelph.

2 thoughts on “The Storm

  1. If it isn't your student, modify your last post. If the student has removed their post from facebook, the decent thing to do would be to remove their post. If the student apologized, they are now on YOUR side. Stop bringing negative attention to them.

    This is ridiculous. I am a strong, capable female, both physically, mentally, and any other way of thinking.

    I hate it when men fight for my gender like we are weak and need protecting. I am all for gender equality, and for reduction of rape and rape culture, but your wording makes me feel weaker and less powerful than when I started reading these posts.


  2. Thank you for making a stand on this – there are groups all over the world who have spent a lot of time trying to get Facebook pages that host these kind of vile comments down – there was a recent campaign in the UK/US/New Zealand to this end . The aim is to get the 'rape is a joke' trope seen in the same light as racist comments: if we can do so, then maybe, just maybe, the violence against women will be taken seriously at long last.


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