Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Saint Louis University law students respond to rape apologist's inflammatory "false rape" event

Students at the Saint Louis University School of Law conducted a sexual violence awareness event in response to the law school's Federalist Society chapter’s “The 41%-ers: Our False Rape Society.” Distributed flyers and information were incredibly well received by the students and faculty, and about half of the students and faculty wore teal ribbons in support of sexual violence awareness.

On its Facebook page for this event, the Federalist Society wrote that hosted controversial conservative journalist Cathy Young at the university’s campus to discuss false rape accusations and the “irreparable damage they do to individuals and our society.” The Federalist Society, a libertarian student organization, also plans to “balance” the discussion with a happy hour tomorrow with the Mark Twain Law Society, an all-male club within SLU Law. Law Students for Reproductive Justice were not invited to participate in the discussion and were only invited to the happy hour after the media was alerted and attended the event.

Many students on campus have other thoughts about Ms. Young’s event.

“I find it absolutely disturbing,” said Emily Rosenfeld, president of Law Students for Reproductive Justice (LSRJ). “There are some things in the world worth fighting for, and in my opinion the rights of sexual assault survivors rank high on that list. I am ashamed that anyone on this campus thinks it is okay to trivialize the pain and injustice that so many survivors go through. Furthermore, she singled out a few high profile cases that attracted heavy media frenzy but this only seeks to further trivialize the vast amount of sexual assaults that go unreported.”

Another LSRJ member Erin Lenahan further remarked that, “we shouldn’t have to keep fighting this battle. We all know that rape is terrible and we all know that lying about being raped is bad. So how do we protect actual victims while upholding our legal notion of ‘innocent until proven guilty’? There is no easy answer, but choosing to address claims of false rape only serve as another way to point a finger rather than finding a solution.”

LSRJ member Chelsea Merta (and Faith Aloud policy analyst) agreed, stating that “it’s a shame that we live in a world where, instead of women supporting other women who have fallen victim to sexual violence, some choose to use those moments of pain as a platform against the victims. Instead, efforts need to focus on changing how society and the media view and report rape, not attack the legal system that’s already severely underutilized.”
Merta continued, saying that “When twenty percent of all American women will be sexually assaulted, and more the half of those incidents will even be reported, that means that 10% of the entire American female population sits in a world where they are shamed into silence because of women like Ms. Young and organizations like the Federalist Society.”

In order to truly open the dialogue, LSRJ will host a film screening, to be held at 12:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 20, 2013, in Room 04 in the basement of Morrissey Hall (SLU Law’s building). During the event, the critically-acclaimed documentary film “The Invisible War” will be screened, with a discussion to follow.

The event is free and open to the public, and members of the press are invited.

Sexual Violence Awareness Month starts in April.


Anonymous said...

I would just like to point out a couple of egregious factual errors.

1. MTLSA is NOT all-male, does not have any exclusions on membership eligibility and encourages all members of the SLU Law community to join them. It is true that they are dedicated primarily to men's causes, such as prostate and testicular cancer. I'm sure we could all agree that cancer awareness and research of all types is important and vital to our society. If men cannot raise awareness for cancer that is uniquely male, then women have no claim to right to do the same for cancers that are uniquely female.

2. The speaker was not a rape apologist. It was expressly disclaimed REPEATEDLY prior to and during the event that the event was in no way, shape or form intended to demean, marginalize, trivialize or otherwise do injury to those who have to live through the disgusting thing that is rape. No one at the Federalist Society or MTLSA advocates for shielding actual rapists from the punishment they rightfully deserve. Violent crime of all sorts is repugnant and antithetical to a free society and we oppose it in all of its forms, especially sexual violence. The issue we were trying to bring light to is the stigma that attaches to those individuals who have been falsely accused of a heinous crime. Surely we would all agree that those wrongfully accused of murder and imprisoned despite their innocence deserve to have justice served if they were put there by the malfeasance of another.

3. The LSRJ was not expressly invited originally, but the insinuation that it was not extended an explicit invitation because of some bad faith motive is ludicrous. The happy hour was always and will still be open to any and all SLU Law students. In fact, those who disagree with us (which would by definition include the LSRJ) have been greatly encouraged to join us. The entire purpose of the happy hour was to do this broad, important topic justice. The 50 minute window during the lunch break at the law school is nowhere near enough time to do this topic justice. So, the happy hour was thought up to afford some more time for the students to interact and discuss the issue over some good drinks and to hopefully educate each other on views they may not have fully considered before. Some may be surprised what happens when they actually talk, rather than employ straw men arguments, half-truths, and misleading snippets.

Faith Aloud said...
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