To the Editor:
I feel compelled to add my voice to the ongoing conversation with regard to sexual assault in Athens County.
I was first annoyed when, on the front cover of the so-called "Women's Issue," I saw a teaser for an article about a march put on by the brave members of Hollaback! Appalachia et al. The tagline for the article touted that the event protested "alleged rape culture." The ensuing article continued to make light of the seriousness of the issues presented. We don't really live in a rape culture; that's just what these crazy, bra-burning, boob-flaunting women allege. Clearly the reporter/editor did not actually attend the event, or if they did, they paid no attention to the message presented.
So, these allegations, huh? Totally baseless? Fast-forward to last Monday's Athens NEWS, and look at pages 2-3; there are multiple stories of cases of sexual assault that went to trial, and every one involved a plea bargain - one, where the man got only six years after pleading to a felony rape charge! I'm so glad he was relieved of the burden of having to go to trial and see more jail time for a FELONY. Oh, no, certainly we do not live in a culture that is forgiving of rape.
I read with interest the article, a few pages later, about the now-infamous incident that occurred uptown Homecoming weekend. I was confused as I read the article, for both the headline and the first several paragraphs referred to it only as a "public sex incident," rather than "potential sexual assault." Although a grand jury recently declined to pursue charges against either party, what disturbs me most is this attitude that prevailed, in the newspaper and around town, that because she didn't appear to be actively resisting, that this wasn't a "real" sexual assault.
I ask you this: If an employee at that same Chase Bank called the police and said that the bank had been robbed, and the only evidence were the cell phone photos of a dozen (non-intervening!) bystanders, taken of that teller surrendering money to an armed robber, would we be terming it a "public money incident" and denying its validity because the teller submitted to the criminal's request? I think not.
"Alleged" rape culture, indeed.
Dutch Creek Road
Editor's note: When matters are in dispute (e.g., whether we live in something called a "rape culture," or indeed how to define that term; and whether the uptown incident was a sexual assault), journalists are taught to qualify the way they describe or label those things. The reader can reach his or her own conclusion by the facts that are given, as did the grand jury in this case. TS