Backlash, and sweeping it under the rug

28 Oct

If you’ve been reading The View from Venus for the past four weeks, you know that I wrote four columns about  rape culture this month. For the most part, the response to them has been positive. Except for this:

If you can’t read it, here’s the text:

To Abby Finkelman,
Grow up, gain an ADULT female perspective. If you choose to dress like a trollop, Drink like a trollop, surrounded by 20 year old testosterone, which ejaculates in two to four minutes of intercourse then you are the fool,
You are the very type of woman who becomes a mom who puts her daughter in beauty pageants, then wonders why your child is being stalked by a pedophile.
You are what you eat.
Rape is about power.
A dress up to your crotch, in a drinking environment, is about you on a power trip.
If you don’t want to give out your candy, then don’t put it on the porch (an analogy of course).
Your a victim if you choose to be.
Your behavior reflects who you are.
Be a woman, act like a woman and respect yourself as a woman.
          One Man’s Perspective

Not the nicest stuff anyone has ever said to me. And I’m baffled by the part about beauty pageants–I’m a feminist, pretty openly so, and feminists don’t usually do beauty pageants. But, whatever, I guess this guy doesn’t actually know what he’s talking about.

I’m partly amused, to be honest. The clear lack of understanding of what I wrote about is almost funny. But only “almost”, because this letter means that there is a man on the St. Rose campus who thinks that if a woman wears a short skirt to a party it’s okay to rape her. That’s pretty much what I’m getting from it. That there’s a man who, rather than saying, “Gosh, since men can wear what they want to parties and get wasted and not worry about being raped, women should be able to as well” says that a woman who does that is a fool. That frightens me.

It frightens me that this person is out there. It frightens me that I don’t know who he is. Evidentially, having an “ADULT” perspective doesn’t include signing your name. If he had, I would be happy to talk to him. Admittedly, I haven’t had a lot of space to make my points. Perhaps I wasn’t clear on something. But I don’t think he wants discourse. I think he wants to spew hate and misogyny and violence. I hope I’m wrong, and if he’s reading this, and wants to have actual dialogue, I hope he contacts me.

I’m not supposed to have this letter. Someone found it on the ground. It had, I’m told, “The St. Rose Chronicle, re: Abby Finkelman” on the back. It was given to a member of SEB, who took a picture of it on their phone and gave it to the executive editor of the Chronicle. The editor then disposed of it. I was not informed of its existence. I was not informed that someone was writing angry things about me, nor was I informed that someone on this campus thinks it’s okay to rape women in short skirts.

I found out about the letter because someone who had the picture sent it to someone else who showed me. When I asked the Chronicle about it, I was told that their policy is to not publish or share anonymous, slanderous letters. I’ve requested a copy of that policy, but have yet to see it. Regardless, I’m fairly certain that by beginning the letter “To Abby Finkelman”, the anonymous author intended for me to receive it. I assume he doesn’t know where I live (I hope he doesn’t, certainly), and thought that giving it to the Chronicle was the best way to get it to me. I doubt he’s familiar with their policies; I know that I would have presumed that a letter clearly addressing a person would be passed on to that person.

Aside from that, this letter is exactly what I’m talking about. My columns were largely abstract. This is concrete. This is someone at The College of St. Rose saying that if a woman wears a short skirt to a party, she’s asking for it. And this letter was swept under the rug. One person, the executive editor, decided that it wasn’t worth dealing with. No one else was informed about its existence, not the opinion editor, not the Chronicle advisor, and definitely not me. I don’t think that’s right. Yes, publishing slander isn’t okay. But this letter is what I’m writing about. This letter is my point. The author of this letter is a real person, right here, saying the things I’m saying. Pretending that this stuff is abstract, or only happening somewhere else, won’t lead to change.

I respect the Chronicle‘s decision not to print the letter, if not its decision to keep it from me. But I’m very glad that someone felt I deserved to know, because this blog is not a newspaper. We don’t have to follow set standards about printing anonymous slander. I’m putting this up here, I’m putting it on Facebook, I’m telling my friends that this is what’s out there. This is what’s on our campus. Whether you choose to fight it or you choose to hide it, it’s there.

What I said earlier, about hoping that the author contacts me for a discussion still stands. But I also hope that if the author won’t come forward, someone who knows him does. I hope that someone says, “No. This isn’t right. It isn’t right to say those things, and it isn’t right to hide when you do.” No one should be allowed to remain anonymous while telling women that when they’re assaulted and raped they are choosing to be victims. And if we don’t know who “One Man” is, he could be anyone. He could be your brother, your boyfriend, your friend. He could be standing next to you. He could be at the next party you go to, talking to you, thinking that you’re a “trollop” who deserves what you get.

One Response to “Backlash, and sweeping it under the rug”

  1. Sabbie October 28, 2011 at 1:24 pm #

    My gawd! I’m an alumni from St. Rose, I really hope this was a prank and that no man would seriously think this. but then again seeing how he’s “annonymous” he probably felt embolden to do this.

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