Taking Back the Night: A Feminist’s Response to Yale’s DKE Incident

October 21, 2010 at 11:31 pm 3 comments

No means yes! Yes means anal!”  chanted the Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) fraternity pledge class while marching across the Yale campus last week. This egregiously offensive and threatening speech must be punished, and we need to open up a dialogue about the prevalence of sexual assault on college campuses in general and by fraternity members in particular.  While I commend Dean Mary Miller and President Richard Levin for making a public statement condemning DKE’s actions, this should just be a first step in a longterm, comprehensive plan for creating a safer social environment in colleges and universities across the country.

Unfortunately, the DKE incident does not surprise me, and I can no longer remain silent about my experience.  In an ongoing attempt to reclaim my agency (which was, to borrow the words of Billy Joel, “something I’d never lose, something somebody stole”), I share my story and take back the night that fundamentally and almost catastrophically changed my life.

The president of a Yale fraternity raped me when I was an undergraduate.  I didn’t tell anyone about it for over a year because I was in denial about what had happened.  Like so many victims of sexual abuse, I blamed myself.  Shortly after the incident, I became bulimic and extremely self-destructive.  I cried myself to sleep almost every night—and, although I was never suicidal, I had a sincere death wish. Seven years later, I have overcome most of the shame and hurt associated with such a devastating loss of agency, but I continue to suffer.  Writing has really facilitated my ongoing quest to reclaim my autonomy and self-confidence. Below is a post I previously wrote about the incident.  I changed names and immaterial details to preserve anonymity:

I strode along the curb of Prospect Street toward Alpha Nu as he ambled—slightly drunkenly—on my right.  I met Tex, a Bulldog linebacker and president of Alpha Nu, at Josh’s track party that night.  The cross-country team had already had its first race of the season the day before, and I still felt a bit high from performing well.  It was the beginning of September, and fall always seemed to arrive early in New Haven.  The temperature must have dropped 20 degrees since the track party had come and gone, and I started to wish I had worn a jacket.

A black Escalade zoomed by, nearly splashing me with a wave of cold, grimy water.

Tex tugged me away from the road.  “Whoa! Let’s switch places. I’m more than twice your size.  No one’s gonna hurt me, and no one’s gonna hurt you while you’re with me.”  He ran his fingers through his dishwater blond hair, sweaty from dancing, and winked.  We held each other’s clammy hands. “That’s kinda sweet,” I thought.

“You’re big and strong and all, but that doesn’t make you invincible.”  I dropped his hand and softly punched his shoulder.  (This was my attempt at coyness.)  I had a weakness for “teddy bear” guys because they seemed so manly and so eager to protect, but I figured it was too early to let on that I might actually be into him.  I hoped to continue the interesting conversation we had begun at Josh’s apartment, and maybe we would kiss and caress for awhile. I hadn’t had many sexual partners, and I just wanted to date people and to generally take things slowly.

“Well, I promise you’re safe with me.  Besides, we’re almost there.  I apologize in advance for the mess.  I didn’t know I’d be meeting such a lovely lady tonight.” Tex put his arm gently around my waist, pulling me closer to him.

But Tex didn’t keep his promise—and, although he apologized for the bite marks in an email the next day, he never said he was sorry for all that transpired later that night.

I wish I could truly take back that September night, but I will never forget what happened.  When I talked about it with some close girlfriends, two of them admitted they had also been raped at Yale.  Both friends chose not to report the events because they didn’t think anyone would believe them.

In light of this, I don’t think hate speech like DKE’s chant should be protected by the First Amendment.  When one form of expression is so abhorrent and so offensive that it chills the expression and threatens the emotional well-being of others, the government should be able to impose liability.  Not only did some of DKE’s members deeply offend many students, but they also voiced support for a culture of sexual violence.  The young men who chanted and/or incited such hateful speech should, at the very least, be suspended.  They have assaulted the vibrant, tolerant marketplace of ideas that should thrive at all institutions of higher education. Through hate speech, these men supported heinous mentality and behavior, casting a pall over the Yale campus and beyond.

I am symbolically taking back the night that had taken so much from me.  Although I’ll never forget what happened, its effects continue to fade into a seemingly distant past.  I hope we all take a moment to consider the individual and societal ramifications of sexual abuse and hate speech and how we can learn from this recent assault on intellectual freedom, social progress, and humanity.

Entry filed under: Excerpt, Sexuality. Tags: , , , , , , .

The LG Curve Excerpt from “The Little Black Box”

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. FaisPalm  |  December 6, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    I know this will get deleted, but first somebody will have to read it.

    Even making eye contact is rape these days, if a woman decides it is. We men have to walk on eggshells 24/7 everywhere we go now, all because the women decided to make THEIR personal demons into OUR problem, and used the full force of the law to do it (following a Marxist political coup).

    Don’t worry, a few more years of this crap and young men will just give up on going to university altogether. Then you successful “empowered” career women can keep the soul-destroying jobs, 50 year mortgages, screaming ungrateful brats, and bleeding ulcers all to your pretty little selves.

    The same exact thing is happening here and now as happened in the Soviet Union (the original feminist paradise) and everyone is too ignorant to realize it. All of you damn fools deserve what is coming to you. Those who ignore history are certain to repeat it.

    One group of frat boys makes an (admittedly) very tasteless parody of the feminist misandry rally, and suddenly we have to repeal the First Amendment to prevent hurting someone’s sorry little feelings. Sounds like Nazi Germany for emotionally fragile weaklings.

    This little fraternity shenanigan is a laughably insignificant red herring, and so are the bloggers who are making such a condescending and self-righteous meal of it. While the feminists talking heads navel-gaze endlessly about these little school boy panty raids, there is real and palpable injustice going on in the world, about which feminists have not a single iota of concern, unless it affects them personally, or they have some hidden agenda wrapped up with it.

    The horse is already long dead ladies. You can put away the whips now.

    Like

    Reply
  • 3. Light and Truth: Exhibit B | The Lollygabber  |  August 23, 2013 at 12:51 am

    […] The following comment was semi-anonymously posted on my blog in response to a 2010 post I wrote on Yale’s DKE incident: […]

    Like

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


Follow The Lollygabber on WordPress.com

Join 1,624 other followers


%d bloggers like this: