[Content note: Rape, rape culture, law enforcement.]
If you've ever studied or worked at a university, then you know just how much power campus security has over the way crimes are interpreted, investigated, and punished on campus.
And I'm sure no rape survivor ever wants to see a university campus security's Twitter account publicly suggest that survivors are responsible for their rapes. But on January 15, that's exactly what the University of New Brunswick Security's account did, tweeting "alcohol overconsumption= sexual assaults" and linking to a short film at http://www.whoareyou.co.nz/ [Content Note for the portrayal of the leadup to a rape].The Tweet received pushback, and seems to be gone now. But here's a screen capture:
Now, while the linked film is not without room for criticism, its message is certainly not that "alcohol overconsumption= sexual assaults." In fact, the film focuses on the actions of bystanders and how their intervention can make a difference. It's pretty puzzling as to how anyone could interpret it as the UNB Security account did...unless you are working from the logic of rape culture.
Lee Thomas, who kindly provided me with the capture of this exchange, also wrote a response in The Brunswickian:
For alcohol to “= sexual assaults”, one of two things would have to be true: Either having a few drinks makes victims more vulnerable to attack, or having a few drinks makes perpetrators more likely to commit rape.
If you chose the latter, then you’re wrong. Anyone who would commit sexual assault while intoxicated is a shitty enough person to commit sexual assault while sober.
If you chose the former, then you’re also wrong! Congratulations, you have fallen into the trap of VICTIM-BLAMING. What you’re essentially saying is, “It’s your job to protect yourself from rape, ergo it’s your fault if it happens to you.” Nope, uh-uh, full stop.
... That’s rape culture. It is not the victim’s responsibility to ensure that they don’t get attacked; it’s the rapist’s responsibility to ensure that he or she does not rape. And if the decision to do that relies entirely on whether or not he or she drinks… well, that’s not the victim’s responsibility, and UNB Security shouldn’t be perpetuating the archaic notion that it is.
And that is the problem right there. When campus security forces are actively reinforcing the time-worn myths of rape culture, what confidence can survivors have in them? If you can watch a pro-intervention film and come away with the idea that the problem is alcohol overconsumption, then how am I supposed to trust that you understand the first thing about rape and how it happens? How am I supposed to believe that you will fairly interpret the report of a survivor?
Answer: I don't. And a security force that only serves to make its community more insecure is of absolutely no use. The members of the UNB campus community (and EVERY community) deserve better than to be blamed for crimes that others perpetrate upon them..