Difficult to read and comprehend: “Instead of scorn or silence, female students need to offer support to peers who are dealing with rape”

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In this Letter to the Editor of the Daily Pennsylvanian, the anonymous author writes:

… During my junior year, I found myself suddenly thrust into a relationship with a reasonably attractive and yes, popular athlete from a neighboring high school. Obviously, it didn’t last (and neither did my virginity). But what should have ended neatly instead turned into weeks of mute suffering and months of extreme depression.

The facts were simple. He came over after the breakup, wanting gratification, which I was less inclined to provide. I was the weaker sex. He apologized. I forgave. Pause, rewind, play. Repeat for three months.

I told no one. The traditional aspects of my heritage dictated that dating without intention of marriage was tantamount to prostitution, and so I decided that any alternative was preferable to having my parents discover the truth.

As a result, word spread that I was a willing participant in these acts, that I was a straight-A whore. I did nothing to dispel the rumors; if anything, I condoned them.

I didn’t particularly care about my reputation among random folk; my friends were the jury that actually mattered. These girls were similar to me, each with a course-load stacked high with AP classes, each with ambitions of medical or law school. But with promiscuity frowned upon by the academic set, my odds of winning the case were clearly slim. A few weeks later, the verdict on me came out: guilty on all counts of sluttiness.

The combination of physical defilement and emotional abandonment pushed me into a deep state of depression. I hit rock bottom when I purchased a box of sleeping pills with the intent to consume them all.

In the end, however, hope won out. But the damage couldn’t be undone.

While my female friendships weren’t severed, they turned into mere facades of true loyalty. Curiously enough, I didn’t encounter the same type of cold condemnation from any of my male friends.

From then on, I became wary of my own gender, hesitant to place trust in the mercurial alliances of women. Even now, my roommates are male. …

I have to admit, I don’t understand what happened to the author. Is she saying that a former boyfriend raped her repeatedly over a three month period? And that in consequence, her female friends thought she was a slut because she “condoned” rumors that she was? I am struggling to comprehend what happened, and how things could have been made better. I don’t wonder idly. Students disclose bad sexual experiences on a depressingly regular basis. There are a variety of responses I can suggest, depending on the situation. Here I am at a loss.

She’s obviously feeling a lot of pain. I’m sorry she didn’t get the support she needed. I hope she receives it now.

–Ann Bartow

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0 Responses to Difficult to read and comprehend: “Instead of scorn or silence, female students need to offer support to peers who are dealing with rape”

  1. tmcgaugh says:

    It sounds like she had three months of “pity sex” with her ex-boyfriend and felt exploited by him and condemned by her friends. I sympathize with both the writer and her friends. It’s obviously difficult for women to exit various cycles of exploitation and abuse. It’s also hard to watch a friend who’s stuck in one. Being a woman is complex. Exploitation is complex. Friendship is complex. Sometimes it is just easier to hang out with people who operate socially on a simpler level.

  2. Ann Bartow says:

    Reading the Letter made me think of the times that friends sort of pulled back, and I just assumed they were busy, only to learn later they were going through some sort of crisis. Sometimes giving people space is the correct thing to do, other times it must feel like abandonment. Better for everyone if the person in pain can articulate what they need, but difficult sometimes, true enough.