N is for No means NO. I accidentally found “The hunting ground” documentary today on Netflix and it gave me shivers.
As I think almost everyone who was not raised in the USA, I never got the full magnitude and importance of fraternities: there is no such a thing in Italy where I was born and grew up, nor here in Finland, where I am living at the moment, and the general picture we have In Europe of fraternities is basically a cool dormitory where people go and party.
The economic and political impact they have on the universities which host them was completely unknown to me, and I could not imagine the length colleges would go to protect their students, accused and/or guilt of sexual assaults, to preserve their affiliations with fraternities.
At the same time, not being a common practice here, I did not have a full grasp of the importance of sports in the academic environment: sure, I have watched movies in the past, but never really stopped to reflect about it. Today I did, and it is scary when a place like a college, which should be focused in forming the next generations of leaders, doctors, lawyers, the future, in a nutshell, puts so much more weight into sports successes. Once again, I was naively blind to the financial revenues sport could generate for a school. Impressive and once again somehow scary.
I am a strong believer in education: I think that, if there is hope for the world to become a better place, it has to pass through free, equal and quality education. But seeing the same places which should shape the future generations into better human beings than the previous one betraying sexual assault survivors by belittling the tragic experience they had, or even worse, by shaming them, it is appalling, morally execrable.
Seeing colleges “sanction’ rapists with a $25 fee, it is the supreme mortification of the people they hurt. Seeing colleges allowing students to freely mock survivors of sexual attacks by chanting “No means Yes” it is a slap in the face of all those who fought in the past to assert women’s rights, one of the most important being the ownership of our own bodies.
Betraying the ‘No means No’ fundamental right, both directly and indirectly, by dismissing the claims of the survivors, does not make us any better than animals. Actually, it makes us worse, since animals living in packs tend to protect their group; wolves, epitome of violence in our imaginary, walk in line with the weakest members of the pack in the middle, so that they can be guarded by the fitter wolves.
And we cannot do the same?