Men Against Rape (MAR), a diverse group of social activists, take issue with the Feb. 27 Vanguard article entitled “Elections board chair arrested for assault.”
Attempted rape coverage wasn’t sufficient
Men Against Rape (MAR), a diverse group of social activists, take issue with the Feb. 27 Vanguard article entitled “Elections board chair arrested for assault.” We appreciate that the Vanguard took a semi-progressive approach and did not overtly fetishize or blame the victims of the alleged assault. However, we are disappointed about how the article was framed and the messages and opinions that such framing implies.
While it is important for media not to buzz like mosquitoes around the alleged victims of an assault, it is both appropriate and responsible for media to attempt to contact alleged survivors of an assault in order to allow them to voice their experience, opinions and current status. There was no indicator in the article that the Vanguard even attempted to do this, nor any explanation as to why not (e.g., the alleged victim’s decision to remain anonymous and outside of the public spotlight).
In stark contrast, the Vanguard made “numerous calls” to the alleged perpetrator, and apparently spared no effort in contacting his friends, colleagues and co-workers to speak for him. This imbalance results in the muzzling of one-half of the incident (the alleged victims) in favor of emphasizing the voice and expression of the other half (the alleged perpetrator). This is a structural inequality in power and expression which further feeds the social objectification and disempowerment of the alleged victims.
It should then come as no surprise that the article reproduced several myths about assault and violent behavior in the process, such as excusing the violence and sexual misconduct through drinking, and excusing the drinking from a “rising stress level.” We also question exactly which “warning signs” ASPSU President Courtney Morse was looking for to indicate someone “was capable of his alleged actions.”
Being a university, PSU has a wealth of expert human resources able to comment and shed light on circumstances surrounding an alleged assault. We advise that the Vanguard attempt to utilize PSU’s wealth of expert resources and address structural inequalities in power and expression to write articles on assaults that serve the public by being both comprehensive and compassionate.
MAR will continue to monitor the Vanguard’s reporting in order to ensure that structural inequalities and assault myth reproduction do not constitute a trend endemic to the paper’s journalistic policy and approach. We expect to see a consistent and overt attempt on the Vanguard’s part to avoid structural inequalities and myth reproduction, as well as attempts to utilize PSU’s wealth of resources, such as the psychology, sociology, and women’s studies departments, and the Women’s Resource Center.
PSU Men Against Rape
One man’s reaction to tragedy
Thirty-two dead at Virginia Tech. Thirty-two dead and gone. Three thousand miles away I feel my chest tighten and cave as CNN indifferently plays along. The screams, the cries, shots tearing through lives, isolation encasing the shell that falls to the floor as they dash through the door hoping to escape from the manifestation of hell, but a new version waits outside, determined to sensationalize the tragedy of young lives lost. The cameras, the lights wait like thieves in the night and prepare themselves to accost the grieving, the mourning friends and family whose pain is soaring with questions of how and why instead of hugging and holding, comforting and molding collective thought toward the infinite sky. Thirty-two dead at Virginia Tech, 32 lives have ceased. And now their survivors must face the challenge of enduring the cold, indifferent beast.