Welcome to the conversation!

Welcome to the conversation!

Harriet Beecher Stowe's (1811-1896) best-selling anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852), made her the most famous American woman of the 19th century and galvanized the abolition movement before the Civil War.

The Stowe Center is a 21st-century museum and program center using Stowe's story to inspire social justice and positive change.

The Salons at Stowe programs are a forum to connect the challenging issues (race, gender and class) that impelled Stowe to write and act with the contemporary face of those same issues. The Salon format is based on a robust level of audience participation, with the explicit goal of promoting civic engagement. Recent topics included: Teaching Acceptance; Is Prison the New Slavery; Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North; Creativity and Change; Race, Gender and Politics Today; How to be an Advocate

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Friday, March 14, 2014

Event Recap: "Campus in Crisis: Speaking Out to End the Violence" (3.13.14 Salon)

Salons at Stowe
Campus in Crisis: Speaking Out to End the Violence
March 13, 2014

The Salon focused on identifying solutions to combat sexual violence on campus and inspiring individuals to take action.

Sexual violence is common on college campuses. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, The Justice Department and the National Institute of Justice:

  • More than 25% of all women who report rapes are between 18-24 
  • Over a college career, completed or attempted campus rapes may be as high as 20-25% of female students
  • Of college women --less than 5% report their completed or attempted rapes-- for the general population it’s 40%
  • In over 80% of cases, victim and assailant know each other.

Mary DeLucia, Sexual Assault Crisis Center, YWCA, New Britain, CT
Mary DeLucia is YWCA New Britain’s Campus Advocate for Sexual Assault Crisis Service (SACS), one of 4 Campus Advocates in CT Sexual Assault Crisis Services 9 member programs. Mary provides sexual assault awareness and prevention programs to 14 college campuses in the area. Her main role is support and empowerment to college students and faculty affected by sexual assault .

Mary has a BA in Sociology. She is certified by SACS where she began as a volunteer. She worked at a CT Sexual Assault Crisis Services sister agency in Litchfield county for 3 years.

Claire Capozzi, Student Advocate, Women for Change, University of Hartford, Women for Change
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/111483368866824/
Twitter:  @women_forchange
Claire Capozzi is a senior at the University of Hartford where she is co-president of Women for Change, a feminist-based organization. She’s graduating with psychology and university honors and will likely attend the University of Hartford’s doctoral program in clinical psychology.
She’s a sexual assault crisis counselor and intern at the Sexual Assault Crisis Service and also works with the Women’s Education and Leadership Fund. She recently presented her work at the Association for Women in Psychology.
In addition to writing her thesis, she’s writing a novel centered around sexual abuse.

Mary DeLucia
Is a Campus Advocate for Sexual Assault Crisis Center, active on 9 college campuses in Hartford and Tolland Counties, runs a sexual assault crisis hotline for those effected by assault or those who know someone effected by assault. Anyone can call and speak with a certified sexual assault crisis counselor; she and others are counselors. They are also advocates in hospitals, police stations and courts. Is running a 5K to End Violence on April 13 at CCSU to raise money and awareness. New program called “Where Do You Stand?” a one hour program that discusses rape culture and how someone can be an active rather than passive bystander.

As a Campus Advocate, she brings awareness of her organization’s services to campuses through staffing tables, presentations, and offering support to students. The focus is empowering those effected to be strong in life, graduate college and find success. After someone is sexually assaulted, the most influential person is the first person the victim confides in – that person’s reactions  sets the tone for how he/shee will feel about the situation. Is important to have this conversation and continue to discuss the issue until a solution is found.

Claire Capozzi                                                                                                                 
Interned with Mary DeLucia this year. Working on honors thesis about victim blaming in newspapers – language use and its impact on rape culture, public opinions, etc. When articles put the blame on victims, readers start believing what they read in the news.

At Steubenville High School, a 16 year old was gang-raped multiple parties by at least 2 men – she was dragged from party to party, assaulter recorded the rapes and posted them online. Anonymous hackers got into the the school’s website and threatened that if the assaulters did not come forward, they  would release the names, Social Security numbers and more of the assaulters – the rapists got 1 year in juvenile detention and have been released, the hacker was sentenced to 10 years in prison. When the trials were covered, the news anchors (CNN female anchors) talked about the assaulters crying in the courtroom and the sadness that they had ruined their lives and had to spend time in prison – not that the girl was raped. The news treated it as a small case like a speeding ticket. The conversation around rape stories needs to be refocused onto the victim, not the perpetrator.

Audience member: Publicshaming.tumblr.com attacked those who claimed the Steubenville student was at fault because she was drunk when raped.

Audience member: In your research, have you felt that women are held to a higher standard than men?

  • Claire: Yes.  As a kid, girls are warned to “watch their drinks,” “travel with someone,” “don't go out at night,” etc., but men are never told to be safe – colleges seem to look at women as a liability; they tell them to make sure nothing happens to them to ensure they are not held at fault. 
  • Audience comment: In teaching women when they are growing up, men hear those same warnings, but women are accused when assaulted because they “must have done something wrong,” and didn’t follow the lessons taught.

Audience member: There are students at Swarthmore are suing the college for not enforcing the drinking age. Every woman who is raped should sue the college.

  • Claire: Suing the school might discourage woman from reporting rapes because they are afraid of getting in trouble. 
  • Audience member: Bars, sororities and fraternities should be held accountable. 
  • Katherine: If colleges enforced the drinking age, would that solve the problem?
  • Audience member: No, it might decrease the problem but its not a major solution. If anything, it might cause more trouble – once something is made illegal, the desire to do it is amplified.
  • Mary: 80% of sexual assaults are done where the victim knows their perpetrator. If you trust someone and they slip it in your drink, that is out of your control. 
  • Audience comment: Making underage drinking the cause of the problem shifts the blame and focus away from the rapist. Discourse is important and people need to understand consent – many men (and women) do not understand consent; many women internalize misogyny. More conversations around rape and consent and misogyny are needed, and men need to be involved. 

Audience comment: Received a complaint from a student on campus about a fraternity brother in the gym wearing a shirt: “We put a man on the moon, and we’ll put a man in your girlfriend.” As a teacher and faculty member, she struggled with where to take a complaint about a student wearing a shirt that makes students feel uncomfortable, but is freedom of speech.

  • Claire: There was a case at Yale where a student wore a shirt that said “Yes means yes; no means anal.” 
  • Audience comment: Needs to be discourse and action 

Audience comment: Is Director of Public Policy & Communication at Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services. From a policy perspective, there is work being done and actions are being taken in Connecticut. Campus Save Act was propose in 2012 – every instate of higher education was required to pass policies around sexual assault and intimate partner violence – explained a survivor’s rights and ways they could take action. After the situation at UCONN, today the legislature unanimously passed a bill to expand Campus Save Act to include stalking and expand policy to staff/employees. It also says that it doesn’t matter where an assault occurs, you can still go through disciplinary proceedings; though from a reporting standpoint, off-campus assaults cannot be reported in the same way (is a problem that needs to be solved). Every campus must also have a Campus Response Team and a relationship with a support center. CT College Consortium Against Assault has hosted discussions around assault, however only proponents attended, not those guilty of assaulting others. Men still have conversations like “I’d do her” or “How many drinks would it take…?” and when no one in a group speaks up, any rapist in the room is empowered.

  • Audience comment: To what extent can parents be held accountable for young men under 21 who assault women. She rents space in her house to young people, and when she does she makes the parents sign and holds the parents accountable. Rape culture starts with parents not holding young men accountable to what is happening and the cultural messaging around us. 
  • Audience comment: Something commonly heard is that “Consent isn’t sexy” and men often joke about what “consent” means; consent should be clear, understood and respected. 
  • Mary: Having a sexual partner ask you if you consent, what your boundaries are, what you are willing to do, shows how much the other person respects you.  
  • Audience comment: Is now a movement called “Consent is sexy” – is awful that we need to sexualize consent to make it appealing. Why do we need underwear that says “Consent is sexy”
  • Claire: Cringes when she hears about the campaign – is not sexy, why should you have to stroke someone’s ego to prove they are not “ok with it”? 
  • Audience comment: The conversation about consent is distracting to men who are not rapists because rape itself is not discussed – they do not realize that even non-consensual “hook ups” at college parties (for example) are considered rape. 
  • Audience comment: There is also a sense that “rapists are crazy,” which also distracts; her father often says “rapists are crazy,” but is worried that she will be raped in the “rape lot” or on the “rape trail” at school. 

Audience comment: What is the profile of a “rapist”? What is the recidivism (check) rate?

  • Claire: The average rapists rapes 6 times. There is the power rapist, sadistic rapist, and anger rapist. But there is no cut and dry profile to a rapist. 
  • Audience comment: How is the statistic of “average rapist rapes 6 times” known? 
  • Claire: Rapists will admit that they raped if the word “rape” is not used. 

Audience comment: As a student at Trinity College, thinks it is important to emphasize that there is no profile of a rapist, there is no typical rape; most college students are not looking to rape someone, they do not realize that what they are doing is rape. The most important solution is awareness, like walking up to a guy with an inappropriate shirt and telling him why the shirt is not appropriate.

  • Mary: So much time is spent asking survivors “Are you sure you said no? How loud did you say it? How many times did you say it?” Instead, need to ask the perpetrator “Are you sure she consented?” “How do you know?” 

Audience comment: When was a kid, “rape” was considered to be violent, but it sounds like today, on campuses, because it is someone who is known, a friend, someone who does not get consent, and a slippery slope, sounds different.

  • Claire: Have to remember that even if a survivor doesn’t have any bruises, isn’t “cut enough,” has no physical trauma, all rape is violent. Because a common misconception is that all rape is physically violent, when a rape kit comes back saying there was no physical damage people say “she was not raped” which is not true. 
  • Audience comment: Power and control were discussed when she first graduated college, felt like she could not use the word “Sex” when describing sexual assault (could only talk about power and control”); now coming back into the movement. Dr. David Lisak has done research on campuses – when he interviewed men who were rapists, found they thought it was ”normal” to rape a woman passed out, or that it was ok because “she was not a virgin.” Men in college think they will just regret it in the morning, which makes it ok. 
  • Mary: Is a common myth that women are raped in dark allies by a stranger; the truth is that 80% of women know their perpetrator. 

Katherine: Would like us to focus on solutions – what do we do? How do we act?

  • Audience comment: Exposure is important. At two different colleges, heads of college fraternities sent out directions about how to rape women (not using the word “rape”) – providing instructions on how to get women drunk, seduce them, how to keep “score”, etc. – opened her eyes as to how disturbing such conversations are that are part of this “Rape culture” 
  • Audience comment: People can get away with saying “oh, she was drunk” because rape is considered violent, but the emergence of “date rape” raises awareness on the nonviolent rape; make sure people are educated about the definitions of rape, date rape, assault 
  • Audience comment: Respect must be taught an an earlier age by not only parents by public educators – many parents do not want to talk about such issues. Need to get education systems to make discussions around the issues, in the classroom, acceptable and expected. 
  • Audience comment: Conversations around the threats of rape should be covered at college orientation. 
  • Audience comment: As a freshman student in Hartford, had to take mandatory classes when arriving at college about rape, violence, threats, etc. They helped but more could be done. 
  • Audience comment: Such courses should be required every year, split the genders during courses to avoid men not taking the course seriously. 
  • Audience comment: Men do not always take the idea of rape seriously. His literary organization/co-ed fraternity lead a workshop on Monday to make sure all guests and visitors feel safe, happy, and that members are aware of the risk of rape (as an organization that holds parties) – being proactive and helping guests. Fraternities and sororities should be proactive and educate their members on not supporting rape and creating a safe environment. 

Audience comment: The conversation has been about what happens on college campuses, but the problem starts during childhood. Even when we are tickling children and they tell us to stop but we don’t, or force kids to hug people they do not want to show affection towards, we invalidate children’s “Nos.” Even kids have boundaries that should be respected.

Audience comment: It is interesting that we start at consent because it says you “have to ask” as if women wouldn’t want it, but then when they “do want it” we see them as “whores.”

Audience comment: How is the “hookup culture” not “whoring”? It is no longer about intimacy and is meaningless.

  • Claire: “Hookup culture” is not necessarily a problem because that is about choice – is more about “rape culture.” 
  • Audience comment: Is a “rape myth” that some women “deserve” to be raped. 
  • Audience comment: Hates commercials because objectifications are awful. In the Axe and Old Spice commercials, is this undertone that men because men and women because girlfriends – if we portray women to be as such in the media, when boys grow up, why should they feel women are humans when they are not portrayed as such. The idea of objectification and women as passive is instilled from a young age through the media, even before we understand what sex is. 
  • Audience comment: In sec and gender class, was watching “Tough Guise” and teacher was saying that a solution to rape culture would be making documentaries or shows about these issues more accessible – you can find Family Guy (ridden with rape jokes) easily, but the documentary about rape culture costs $100. 

Audience comment: Is one of 5 kids and has 4 younger brothers – as the only sister, tries to educate her brothers on rape culture and consent. When you tell men to think of women as their “sisters,” makes them give more respect to women.

Mary: “Rape” needs to be labeled – people see rape as something so small and insignificant, as well as ,frightening; need to use the word so people do not skirt around it and avoid the discomfort.

  • Audience comment: Cannot be euphemistic about it, need to say “rape is the problem” and make people sue the word. 

Audience comment: On campuses, are putting a lot of pressure on young people under the age of 21; parents, educators, police, and other adults need to come onto the campus to make raising awareness around rape a more seriously effort. The pressure shouldn’t be put exclusively on young women, and needs to be a community effort.

Claire: Should feel comfortable talking about rape and consent with your partner.

  • Mary: “If you can’t be talk about it you shouldn’t be having it” 

Katherine: This is a hot issue in the news – why were there not more people in attendance? Was it the right number?

  • Claire: Would have liked to see more. 
  • Audience comment: Is there coverage of the UCONN case? Coverage comes and goes. Can articles be shared on the blog? 
  • Audience comment: There are many blogs and articles. 
  • Audience comment: Jodi Foster was in a movie about gang rape that used to be shown at Trinity. The administration does not want to acknowledge the boundaries between a good party and an unsafe environment. Needs to be a book about “The Joys of Campus Sex.”
  • Audience comment: Small audience because it is an uncomfortable issue. People will comment on social media and listen to WNPR, but do not feel comfortable talking about the issue of rape in person, especially men.  
  • Mary: Talking to men who do not rape, they do not understand what rape is and do not think it effects them or they need to know; they incorporate what they learn about rape and consent into their own context. Goes back to that all rape is premeditated. 


  • Educate about consent
  • Work to eliminate rape culture – report offenses 
  • Learn about the Campus Save Act
  • Read and learn about the work of Dr. David Lisak
  • Teach respect – at home and in schools. Is not a gender problem, is everyone’s issue
  • Don’t invalidate childen’s “no’s” – teach them early on that “no means no” and that you will respect when they say no 
  • Use the world RAPE, don’t desensitize, cover up or work around it 
  • Parents and educators need to get involved – it takes a village to end rape culture
  • Train faculty and administration on public safety, how to respond to rape, what the laws are, how to report, how to react. 
  • Educate fraternities and sororities 
  • Explore the resources in the Salon takeaway (embedded below) 
  • Continue the discussion by posting a Comment below!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thoughts of this salon discussion will not leave me alone. I’ve been wondering why all campus rapists - especially the serial rapists we heard definitely exist - should not be on the state’s sexual offender lists for all women to consult. If a non collegiate rapist were caught and brought to court, would his name not go on such list? Do college affiliated rapists get easier treatment by the law?? Are all campus rape cases reported to the police? Shouldn’t women be able to research the background of men they might marry for such events? Domestic violence in marriage might be connected to this earlier behavior. Nicolas Kristof’s article on a recent New York Times op ed page made me think of some of these questions.

As I tried to relate the content of our discussion to a friend who wasn’t able to attend, it became clear to both of us that the group hadn’t come up with any true solutions. We can’t just chat about this and hope men will follow along. Nor can we wait and hope that a generation of better-raised boys will not rape.