Saturday, April 19, 2014
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VASQUEZ: War on women

When I was twelve years old, a family friend described me as a “rebel without a cause.” I have no idea why he said this, but I remember not being pleased about it. It didn’t make sense to me because to be a rebel, you have to disagree with something. And by disagreeing, you’re believing in its opposite. Therein lies the cause.

In a way, I rebelled against his statement. I told myself to always have a cause. When controversy arises, I acquire all knowledge possible and then make an informed decision. Stick to it. Fight for it. And most importantly, never become so proud that I can’t admit when I make a mistake.

The past couple of weeks have put this philosophy to the test. Boston University has turned into a hotspot for breaking news and scandals that all seems to revolve around one broad issue: sex. Within a few days, they raised concerns and controversies evoking the whole spectrum of human emotions.

As a female student, these issues concern me. In light of the recent arrests of two BU hockey players, there has been a surge of awareness regarding this negative trend. All students and faculty received the letter from Robert Brown, the president of our university, in which he addressed this particular problem.

When I opened this email, my anger increased. The words “sexual assault” and “rape” were not mentioned. The cowardly tiptoe around the real issue enraged me. Every line reeked of concern for the hockey team, rather than the victims. The vague solution of a “task force” proposed in the email doesn’t even include students and alumni, according to the letter.

The appropriate response to rape and sexual assault charges is through direct approach and acknowledgement of the sexual violence towards women that is occurring in front of us. The root of the problem is not in the “hockey culture.” It is in society. Boston University needs to take more forthright and active steps to assess this ugly reality.

The task force is about protecting the integrity of the university. Call me crazy, but when the health and safety of students are at risk, I don’t care about how it looks. I care about how it is.

And this is how it is: We live in a society that teaches “Don’t get raped” instead of “Don’t rape.” And if that sentence alone doesn’t make your skin crawl, nothing will. If this situation does not open your eyes to the repulsive inequality of this patriarchal society, then think about this next point.

You know you’re living in a sexist environment when the choices of two male athletes trigger widespread media attention and a personal letter from the president of the university, but the fact that female students are getting videotaped in their own dormitory showers gets little to no attention by the administration.

The “peeping Tom” incidents were briefly covered by the main publications and then left alone. As far as I know, there has been no follow-up to what I see as a prominent and disgusting problem on our campus. The very title it was given down-played its importance, making it sound like a simple game little kids play in the sandbox. The truth of the matter is female students do not feel safe in their college homes. This is an issue that deserves just as much media attention and focus.

What is even more appalling is the advice given to the female students to stop this from happening. They were told to consider “extra precautions” and for roommates to look out for one another while showering. The responsibility is put on the victims. A woman should be able to feel safe in her college environment. I am astounded that this problem has not received more attention; it is further proof of the so-called “war on women” in our society.

There is gross injustice in our world still going on today. Women are still not treated as equals in so many different ways. Feminism has a negative connotation, further proving this patriarchal society. The reason for this is a simple lack of awareness and understanding. So many people, men and women alike, have such a twisted notion of what it means to be a feminist. It is not a dirty word. It is not even a controversial word. It’s all about equality. Women can be feminists. Men can be feminists. And I would like every man that says he is not a feminist to explain to his mother, his sister, his daughter, his wife or girlfriend why he does not believe in equality for women.

Our society has a problem. Can BU be blamed for its cause? Not at all. It can be blamed for fostering an environment that flows with the current, rather than against it. It can be blamed for not taking a stronger stand against sexual violence towards women. It can be blamed for continually failing to address the real problem and consequently failing to provide concrete and effective solutions.

Do something, BU. Do something to keep me safe. Stop spewing senseless words and stringing together media-friendly phrases. Stop talking in your sleep. Wake up to the reality and start listening.

 

Dany Vasquez is a sophomore in the College of Communication and a weekly columnist for The Daily Free Press. She can be reached at vasquezd@bu.edu

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