My cousin Kelly, who lives in Burlington, VT, sent me an article recently that reports how members of a fraternity at the University of Vermont sent a questionnaire asking “Whom would you like to rape?” The national fraternity organization Sigma Phi Epsilon responded by closing the fraternity indefinitely – although the members will still be allowed to live in the house and no one will face ramifications from the school itself.
While no “crime” was committed, this questionnaire shows that the rape culture is still alive and well on America’s college campuses. Such language shows a complete ignorance of what rape actually means and hints at a misogynistic mentality that conveniently forgets that women are human beings. My college didn’t have fraternities. However, when I was a college sophomore I visited my abuser’s best friend’s fraternity at a large state school. The day we arrived at the fraternity house the members were cleaning up from a party the night before in which freshman girls had wrestled each other in a mud pit. The fraternity members referred to these girls as “doormats” – good enough only to wipe their feet on – instead of using their names.
Throughout our visit, I was struck by the fact that the members of this fraternity seemed to be trying to one-up each other in their casual, inhumane treatment of women. It was a game to them. And the women in question? They were along for the ride. They didn’t seem to realize how quickly this game could turn treacherous – until it was too late.
I know that all college campuses and fraternities shouldn’t be painted with the same brush. But this incident at UVM shows that there is still a pervasive sense that playing with women’s lives is a game. Rape is not a game. Perhaps next time, the questionnaire should ask: “Whom would you like to break apart and destroy from the inside out?”