Letter to the Editor: The Problem with Publishing a Rapist’s Perspective
The following letter concerns a Guest Viewpoint that was published in the November 3rd edition of the Emerald.
WORDS BY SOPHIE ALBANIS
We at the Siren Magazine are deeply disappointed in and offended by the Emerald’s choice to publish the Guest Viewpoint written by a convicted rapist. We understand, of course, that the staff at the Emerald is not responsible for what was written in this essay. The fact of the matter remains, however, that the decision to publish it sends messages that are just as harmful as the messages contained in the piece.
For example, the blaring headline “I HAD MADE A MISTAKE” immediately depicts rape as an accident, an error in judgment, something to be forgiven and corrected. But rape is never an accident, whether or not perpetrators understand that what they are doing actually constitutes rape. The rapist’s decision to engage in sexual behavior is a conscious one. When the Emerald allows rape to be portrayed as a “mistake,” they send the message that we should be sympathetic towards rapists, that the punishment they receive is out of their control, and that these consequences are the most harmful outcome of rape.
Never once does the author mention the fact that his actions—and the actions of all rapists—produced intensely damaging results for the survivor. In fact, the survivor is altogether absent from the article. The entire experience is made to be about him. He writes, “I had to keep my situation a secret from even my closest friends because of the embarrassment that [it] would have caused.” We, as readers, are expected to feel sorry for him. He does not take responsibility for his actions, instead describing the rape he committed as an unfortunate event that “happened” to him, a situation outside of his control, merely the world “crashing down on [him].”
The piece contains an excess of objectionable material, and we could (and are willing to) go on pointing it out. We feel, however, that it should never be the responsibility of survivors, potential victims, and other marginalized groups to educate their oppressors. As stated earlier, we recognize that the Daily Emerald did not produce the actual text of this article. Publishing it, however, gave the rapist’s message credence and publicity.
It is articles like these that make the Emerald an entirely unsafe resource and forum for survivors and potential victims. The only “mistake” concerning this article was the decision to publish it. We suggest that in the Emerald’s next endeavor to shed light on the issue of sexual violence, the publication seeks out the input of students who work actively and effectively to combat the issue, not to mention seeking out the stories of survivors themselves.
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