Letter to the Editor – April 18 Issue

Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to “Sexual Assault: Research vs. Reality,” which appeared on the front page of The Bucknellian on April 11, 2014. There is so much to talk about in this piece, and in the editorial on the same topic. I suppose that it is progress that at least we are talking, but I do wish we could have our conversations openly and not defensively. It is true that the University is doing much to combat sexual assault on campus and to improve the campus climate. This, however, does not mean that sexual assault is not a current problem on campus, nor does it mean that talking about various measurements of the problem will distract us from improving the climate. It is absolutely essential that we learn everything we can about the prevalence of sexual and gender violence at Bucknell if we really wish to eradicate it. (Yes, I said “eradicate” not “reduce” because I do not think that either sexual or gender violence are inevitable.)

We must confront the reality of perpetration–which somehow often gets lost in debates about whether x, y, or z form of bad behavior really constitutes sexual assault. The painfully disturbing fact is that some students on our campus admit to committing abhorrent acts that, on any definition of sexual assault, are illegal and immoral. And most perpetrators of such violence are repeat offenders. Let’s talk about that. Please.

It is also painfully distressing to me that if asked, “Have you ever been raped?” some of our women students say “no,” when the same students say “yes” if asked if “a man put his penis into my vagina, or someone inserted fingers or objects without my consent.”

Then again, I find it painfully distressing that our students live in and host and attend parties at houses everyone calls, “The Rape Shack” (renamed “The Shark Tank”), “Slut Dungeon,” “Plan B,” and “The Hand Job Hotel.” Let’s talk about that. Please.


Sheila Lintott

Chair, Department of Women’s and Gender Studies

Associate Professor of Philosophy

(Visited 152 times, 1 visits today)