Letter to the Editor: Response to the recent rape jokes on campus

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


Recently the issue of rape jokes, and rape culture in Guelph has been raised on campus.  A post on the facebook group Overheard at Guelph has prompted President Summerlee and an article in The Ontarion to address this issue as well as a banner in the University Center which reads “rape jokes=not funny.

As someone who views the University of Guelph as a community of young adults and intellectuals who are committed to higher learning and inclusiveness, I find it appalling that these types of jokes and thinking persist.

It is not an issue of whether or not people have a sense of humour, but of ensuring people’s safety, health and rights on campus and in the community. All people have rights regarding their bodies and sexuality and no one should have the power to infringe on these rights. Rape jokes and similar behaviours make excuses for and validate the infringement of these rights. The media often desensitizes and humours the issue of sexual assault, resulting in a society that often blames victims for its occurrence. Just last year Toronto police officer Michael Sanguinetti made ‘slut shaming’ comments to a York University law class, which prompted a ‘SlutWalk’ by concerned university students.

This ties to the larger issue of gender discrimination in general. I do not feel that being born female should justify making me a target of discrimination or sexual assault. I personally have experienced sexual harassment in the work place, which opened my eyes as to how embedded gender discrimination and the over sexualization of women is in society. I would also like to note that although often overlooked, men too are victim to gender discrimination and sexual assault.

It is a sad reality that rape culture is still an issue in 2012 in Canada, even on university campuses. I hope that by raising awareness of this issue, people will take it more seriously and make an attempt to analyze and change behaviours that contribute to sexual violence and discrimination. 

Emily Blake is a student at the University of Guelph

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