SPU Against Rape Culture

We, the members of the Seattle Pacific University Community, believe that SPU ought to be a safe space for all students to learn, work, commune and live. We commit to creating this space, where all students can thrive, through our various events and programs as well as our personal choices.

In pursuit of this commitment, we pledge to seek the health and well-being of those in our community who have been victims of sexual assault. We pledge to take a stand against media that objectifies, accepts and condones sexual assault and perpetuates rape culture. In particular, we oppose media that may trigger and lead to the recalling of traumatic memories for victims of sexual assault, such as the song Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke. We believe this media harms the community we desire to create and of which we are committed to be a part. Consequently, we choose to not use such media in our areas of leadership and in community spaces.

We do not make this pledge out of fear of the culture and media, but rather we make this pledge in solidarity with our community members who have experienced sexual assault, and toward the hope of a more just world where men and women may be whole.

By signing, I pledge to refrain from media (i.e. music, movies etc…) that perpetuates rape culture in the SPU community.

We have made it our goal to get 400 signitures because that is 10% of the student (graduate and undergraduate) population. Join with us in standing against rape culture.

1.     What is Rape Culture?

Rape Culture is media, gender stereotypes, dialogue or other cultural forms etc. that accepts, normalizes, excuses or even condones any form of non-consensual and/or violent sexual acts.

 2.     Why single out Blurred Lines?

In Project: Unbreakable, http://projectunbreakable.tumblr.com), an online effort that employs art to increase awareness and healing around sexual assault, men and women are asked to pose with quotations taken from their attackers. On multiple occasions the quotations from Project: Unbreakable find direct parallels in the lyrics of Blurred Lines, often verbatim. These include the following lines: “I know you want it”, “You’re a good girl”, “Do it like it hurt, what you don’t like work”, “Must wanna get nasty”, “I’ll give you something to tear your ass in two.” For more images and article, see: http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2013/09/17/from-the-mouths-of-rapists-the-lyrics-of-robin-thickes-blurred-lines-and-real-life-rape/ 

These quotations aren’t isolated cases of sexual assault, but are rather emblematic of the psychological posturing of rapists. As such, the parallel between these quotations and the lyrics of Blurred Lines can trigger traumatic memories in victims rape. While a significant portion of popular music in America condones sexually objectifying human interaction, Blurred Lines is categorically distinct in that it suggests sexual consent is contextual or irrelevant, and therefore condones and abets a culture of sexual violence towards women. If SPU is truly going to be the safe place that we say it is, then it must be a safe place for all students, most especially those who have suffered injustice, and media of this kind poses a challenge to our community.

 3.     How did this pledge come to be?

After reading about efforts to ban the song Blurred Lines in the University of Edinburgh, Senior Tucker Rogers approached School of Theology senator Laura Nile with a proposal to have the song banned at SPU. This proposal was brought before ASSP Senate who felt that an outright ban of the song might set a bad precedent and might not be the most effective means to actually reduce how much the song is played on-campus. However, Senate desires the SPU community to be a safe place for all students including those who have been victims of sexual assault. The idea of an opt-in ban was put forth which evolved into the pledge you now see. This pledge serves to start a bigger conversation around media and rape culture still with the focused commitment to reduce public media on-campus which may be triggers for victims of sexual assault.

 4.     I’ve signed this pledge!... Now what?

Here are some possible next steps:

  • Reflect on your personal media consumption.

    • What are the messages in what you watch, listen to, and read?

    • How does the media you consume view and characterize women?

    • How does the media you consume view and characterize men?

    • How might the media you consume impact others in your friend group and community with different background and life experiences? In particular, how may it impact those who have been victims of sexual assault?

  • Invite others to join you in this pledge!

  • Talk about it and ask questions.

    • Talk to your friends, floormates, and housemates about the music you play in common spaces, how you talk about men & women, the jokes you tell, objectification, sexual assault, etc.

    • If you are a student leader, have a conversation with your team/organization about media, objectification, and rape culture.

    • Ask questions about the pledge and the issues at hand. Start a conversation!

  • Learn more about rape culture, feminism and gender equality!

    • Check out Project Unbreakable (www.projectunbreakable.tumblr.com) which seeks “to increase awareness of the issues surrounding sexual assault and encourage the act of healing through art”

    • Watch Miss Representation which “exposes how mainstream media contribute to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America. The film challenges the media’s limited and often disparaging portrayals of women and girls, which make it difficult for women to achieve leadership positions and for the average woman to feel powerful herself.”

    • Attend a Sophia Club meeting or event to join others in conversation about feminism and gender equality

    • Attend Unpacking Feminism on-campus

    • Take a relevant course. Some to consider:

      • WST 2350: Intro to Women’s Studies

      • SOC 2000: Sociology of Gender

      • SOC 4210: Gender in the Global Context

      • THEO 2730: Intro to Christian Reconciliation

      • THEO 3331: Women in Christianity

      • BUS 3600: Gender and Leadership

      • ENG 2234: Literature by Women

      • HIS 3616: Women & Equality in America

      • Seek out faculty, staff and fellow students who are passionate about this!

¡   This pledge was created to be an opt-in petition, rather than an all-out ban because we believe it is important for SPU community members to take their own responsibility to create a safe space for all students on campus. We hope this pledge will spur conversation around issues of rape culture, objectification of women, and the influence of media.

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