Letter to the editor: Finding the right way to fight rape culture

Rebecca Anderson

Recently, I was visiting Ames and went to Sips for a few drinks. As is often the case when I turn on the radio, the song “Blurred Lines” started playing. I approached the disc jockey and told him I’d prefer he didn’t play it because it’s about rape. He scoffed, laughed, and said: “Yeah, that’s why everybody is dancing.” I said: “I am a sexual assault survivor, and I am not dancing.” As I walked away, I heard him announce over the loudspeaker, “Hey, for the girl in the corner, this song is about rape.” While this comment was dripping with sarcasm, five universities in the U.K. have banned the song from their campus bars amid claims that it “excuses rape culture.”

Statistically, one in six women will endure a sexual assault or rape in their lifetime (the prevalence sits between 20 and 25 percent for college women) and on average, at least 50 percent of these assaults are related to alcohol use. One in six men are victims of sexual assault in their lifetime. So the DJ wasn’t just giving a shout-out to “the girl in the corner.” It was to every survivor in the bar, perpetuating the victim-shaming rape culture that we live in — the culture that is insensitive to survivors and blames them for crimes committed against them. This is a culture we should refuse to tolerate.

I am sending this letter to share my story and express a few hopes. I hope the DJ will be reprimanded for his disgusting treatment of a patron. I hope Sips will be kept accountable and employees of other bars won’t let this happen in their establishments. I hope that other survivors may be empowered to use their strength and voices to advocate for themselves and other victims. But most of all, I hope people will recognize that fighting rape culture isn’t saying, “I can’t believe that happens” and “I would never rape anyone.” Fighting rape culture means responding to survivors with empathy and holding rapists accountable. I hope we can work together to make positive change surrounding conversations about consent.

When it comes down to it, the DJ at Sips turned out to be just another man disregarding my “no” — and I won’t let my voice be silenced again.