Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Ms. Annie Roberston - Rape and Race

We've long heard the startling statistics regarding rape in the United States. According to Crisis Connection the statistics are even more startling when you focus on college campus' in the United States. Here are a few of those statistics:
  • Every 21 hours there is a rape on an American college campus
  • 1 in 4 women in college today has been the victim of rape, and nearly 90% of them
    knew their rapist  
  • Of the college woman who are raped, only 25% describe it as rape
  • Of the college women who are raped, only 10% report the rape
  • 34% of completed rapes and 45% of attempted rapes take place on campus
    • Almost 60% of the completed campus rapes that take place on campus occur in the victim's residence
    • 31% occur in another residence
    • 10% occur in a fraternity
It gets worse when you take a closer look at the recent high profile cases, (Steubenville/Genarlow Wilson) which involved victims below the collegiate level.

I am a young woman, so I don't need these stats to tell me that there is a problem. I can also understand the indescribable pain that victims of rape feel, as well as the devastation that occurs for victims who speak out against their perpetrators, only to feel silenced. I get it! So the controversy at Sarah Lawrence College involving Annie Robertson and Garvey-Malik Ashhurst-Watson are of no surprise to me.

Annie in her own words:

To make matter worse for Ms. Robertson, Mr. Ashhurst-Watson was initially charged with two counts of sexual misconduct and those charges were later dismissed. The Westchester County District Attorney’s Office launched an investigation and concluded that there were inconsistencies in the accounts of the events between the two parties and not enough evidence to prosecute Mr. Ashhurst-Watson.

"How can you tell a woman she is safe when her body no longer belongs to her? When you are finally able to burn me at the stake, frame my ashes for your school’s distinction. Until then, I will be tying nooses with the strong cords of my voice. I will be hanging your boys up and invoking my no until the spirit takes them and their legs stop twitching." - Annie Robertson
It's unfortunate that Ms. Robertson decided to unnecessarily invoke race with well known and documented elements of slavery. For this I can't take her seriously. I can't see how, through what I imagine to be the most devastating and hurtful of circumstances, Ms. Robertson can only see the race of her "perpetrator". Ms. Robertson was a victim of a crime, a victim of violence. So why would she choose to focus on the fact that her "perpetrator" was black?

This poem is indicative of Ms. Robertson's mindset and her character. Words are powerful. Ms. Robertson knows this. So to now pretend that the racial elements were unintentional is just not cool.

If Ms. Robertson really wanted to make sure that her "attack" didn't happen in vain, she would have set out to truly make a difference. Look at the statistics (especially the ones above) and make the decision to begin a meaningful national conversation on rape and sexual violence on college campus'. Ms. Robertson could have started a movement in her back yard, by galvanizing everyone at Sarah Lawrence with a mission to make campus rape a thing of the past. No, instead she made a decision to put a "poem" on her Facebook page about lynching black men.  This poor decision not only weakens her argument, but it weakens a movement that already exists to help young women recognize when they are victims of violence, and take action against their perpetrators. Coming forward and accusing someone of rape it already a very difficult act. Victims fear persecution, so many remain quiet. Ms. Robertson has made it even worse, especially for anyone who may be a victim of rape or any other form of violence, at Sarah Lawrence.

I really wish Annie Roberston hadn't taken the direction of this conversation to such a disgusting level.

Sound off...

1 - When you read Annie Robertson's "poem" what did you think?
2 - Has Ms. Robertson weakened her argument?
3 - When the charges were dismissed against Mr. Ashhurst-Watson, what should Ms. Robertson have done? What should any victim in Ms. Robertson's position do?
4 - Is this situation a lesson for young men on college campus' across the US?

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