Poyer: Let’s talk rape culture

Columnist Sarah Poyer discusses the horrors of rape culture in our society, especially in regards to Greek Life and college campuses. 

Sarah Poyer

Editor’s Note: This piece is a part of the series “Let’s talk.”

Trigger warning: This column contains information about sexual assault. 

This past week has been hell. Every time I open my TikTok, I see so many videos of what has been happening in Lincoln, Nebraska. If you haven’t seen the videos, consider yourself lucky. The heartache and sick-to-my-stomach feeling I get every time I see one of these videos is indescribable. 

To give you a brief overview of the videos, you can see protesters outside of Phi Delta Gamma (Fiji) at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. The protestors are protesting a sexual assault was reported as well as the fraternity. The disturbing part is in some of the videos: you can hear Fiji members laughing at the protestors and making very offensive comments regarding the sexual assault. These men in the fraternity find comedy in a very traumatic experience, and to be honest with you, I find it disgusting. 

Unfortunately, sexual assault is not an uncommon phenomenon in our society. It is normalized in our movies, television shows, jokes and music. You hear jokes about sexual assault and rape, and we shrug it off. Almost like an “if I ignore it, it does not exist” ideal. I would love that to be accurate, but it is not. Not hearing about sexual assault and rape doesn’t mean they are not happening; it just means we don’t acknowledge they are happening.

Nonchalant comments get made, women are catcalled, young girls are followed and so much more, yet we chose to turn away from these horrors as a society. 

The University of Nebraska, Lincoln is not the only college to have seen a sexual assault thus far this semester. Iowa State has already seen a sexual assault on campus, and we have only been in school for one week. I would, unfortunately, venture to say this is not the only sexual assault, but the only reported sexual assault. People seem to think they have rights to others’ bodies even when they most evidently do not. 

It is more likely to have unreported sexual assaults because of our culture and victim-blaming. Rape culture has infiltrated our society too profoundly and needs to be stopped. I recently saw an Instagram post of a Tweet, which spoke to me in the sickest way. Cathy Hayward, who made the tweet, discussed a conversation she had with her thirteen-year-old daughter. 

Honestly, this tweet made me want to cry. A thirteen-year-old child is being catcalled and sexualized by men. These men think they have a right to her body, to sexualize her at such a young and impressionable age. I am disgusted with our society. The fact that rape culture has been allowed to continue for so long saddens me deeply. 

Fortunately, people are taking strides to combat this culture that has become so deeply ingrained in our society. One group called StripYourLettters works to combat problems within the Greek life community, such as sexual assault. The group recently posted on their Instagram (on March 10) a collection of slides that speak volumes in terms of how we (Greek Life) can be better regarding sexual assault.  

These slides give options for both sororities and fraternities to do better. Rape culture is not solely a fraternity or male problem. Women are also at fault for perpetuating unrealistic standards. Victim blaming, slut-shaming and making statements such as “boys will be boys” are seen being done by everyone, not just men. 

The bottom line is, we need to do better. No one asks to be assaulted. As a victim, it is never your fault. The perpetrator needs to be held accountable for their actions. Hold people responsible and call them out for making jokes and comments. Check on your friends; make sure they are safe. And check yourself too: breaking the rape culture cycle needs to start now.