In an article in New York Magazine last week, several campus anti-rape activists describe to writer Allison P. Davis their difficulties with meeting men, dating, and “hooking up.”
“Nobody ever explicitly said, ‘Oh you’re a survivor, we can’t date,’” [UCLA senior Meghan Warner] told me. “But they’d assume that I was just doing this for attention, or more frequently they didn’t want to deal with it. It was too much. They assumed I’d have a lot of needs.”
Warner is the director of UCLA’s sexual-assault commission and “part of a federal complaint against the school for its mishandling of assault cases.”
Then there were those who were a little too eager to make it know that they would never, ever assault a woman. Their first response is ‘I’m not one of those guys, I would never do that,’” she said. “I mean, what, should I be carrying gold stars now?”
Chrissy Keenan, a UCLA senior, is the president of Bruin Consent Coalition, a campus group that works to raise awareness regarding sexual assault on campus. “When people know of me but they don’t really know the work, they hear the term ‘feminist’ or ‘sexual-violence prevention,’ they think, ‘super-extreme, bra-burning feminism,’” she explains, which often puts people on the defensive.
Keenan herself, though, sometimes finds it hard not to go on the offensive. She’s so used to laying down the nitty-gritty details of consent that she’s been known to open romantic interactions with a spiel that feels straight out of a student handbook.
She animatedly tells a story about a recent Tinder rendezvous: “One time, I agreed to meet with this guy at 8 or 9 at night. Before we met, I said to him, ‘This is the work I do, I know the chief of police … so, don’t try and get creepy; I know all my rights.’ And five minutes later, he was like, ‘Actually, I’m really not OK with how you just assume I’m a bad guy. And I get very bad vibes from that, so we shouldn’t hang out anymore.’”
“I was in a rage. He was a total fuckboy about consent,” she said.
How dare that guy make such an assumption, eh?
Sofie Karasek, a UC Berkeley grad and co-founder of End Rape on Campus (she’s also involved with the federal lawsuit and has a large part in the campus rape-culture documentary The Hunting Ground), adds, “Honestly, even if they’re supportive, even if they say all the right things, and really want to discuss my job, it makes me feel weird about hooking up with them.”
“It’s like, ‘Oh, we were just talking about rape, and now we’re going to hook up.’ It’s just weird.”