Rape on Campus: Protecting the Alma Mater

Stop rape


Last week, my eighteen-year-old niece graduated from high school.

She is brilliant, and lovely, and vibrant. In the fall, she will be headed to a university.

Where she will stand a one-in-five chance of being raped.

Today, news broke that Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Massachusetts – a leading institution in sciences and engineering – crafted a legal defense against a lawsuit from a rape victim which was built around blaming the victim. It then went on to say it wasn’t blaming the victim, in a bizarre form of double-speak.

Let us be clear: no victim is ever culpable in their own rape. Ever.

A convertible parked on the street with the top down does not give me license to hop in and drive away. A handgun left out on a counter does not give me license to pick it up and fire it. Just because a house is flammable does not give you license to burn it down. There is not mitigation of the crimes of grand theft or murder or arson because of the makeup or behavior of the property owner. So why in the world should there be mitigation of rape for the same reasons?

After her assault, a woman I love dearly was asked “What were you wearing? Had you been drinking? Why were you at his place?” I share this with her permission, but it is, as she says “the standard shame and blame line for us girls who were asking for it.”

Let that sink in for a second. She was the victim. NONE of those questions were relevant to the assault. She could have been bombed, completely naked, and in his apartment for an orgy, and unless she enthusiastically gave her consent for the attacker to touch her, IT DOES NOT MATTER.

She is not alone. This is what cold-diarrhea Brock Turner, rapist’s victim had to face in court.

And this is what WPI’s Jane Doe – who was raped by a security guard that was supposed to be PROTECTING her – had to face at the hands of her college. And worse, she is not alone.  There are too many stories to recount about colleges participating in victim blaming in order to protect the old alma mater, but here are just a few, quoted from this Washington Post article:

Sasha Menu Courey, the University of Missouri swimmer, told a nurse, a rape crisis counselor, a campus therapist, two doctors and an athletic department administrator that she was raped, but no one did anything about it. Sixteen months after the attack, she killed herself.


At a preliminary hearing known as an Article 32, the [United States Naval Academy] midshipman [who was assaulted] was subjected to days of hostile cross-examination by defense attorneys who asked what kind of underwear she had on and how wide she opens her mouth during oral sex.


And at Patrick Henry College [a dry, Christian campus], the [assaulted] women were questioned about what they were wearing and whether they were flirting. One victim was assigned to read a self-help book on modesty. She was told by a college official to delete the e-mails, calls and texts from a young man who apologized for an assault after she asked about calling the police. The dean asked her to trust God, instead.

This happens over and over again, at campus after campus.

In fact, in one report, FIFTY-FOUR percent of college athletes admitted raping their partners. 54%. That’s half of every team. It’s the infield minus the catcher.

You know someone – more than one someone – who is a rapist.

And so do the colleges.

So yes, we should be blaming poor, unable-to-eat-ribeye Brock Turner, convicted rapist. We should be blaming the judge who coddled him, the parents who did not raise him not to rape, the society which teaches girls how to avoid being raped instead of boys to avoid raping.

But we must also blame Stanford, the school with the long history of not doing enough to prevent sexual assault, or to protect victims and punish rapists when it does happen. And the entire university system in this nation, which is in the same rapey boat.

My niece, and the millions of other women in our universities deserve and need better – and urgently.

Dads, Daughters, and Dating

Dad of A Long Long Decade Ago


I am not the father who will have the shotgun prominently displayed when the first boy shows up to take my daughter out.

In fact, I think that macho posturing is reprehensible. She does not owe me her chastity; I am not the owner of her “virtue.” You will not find me posing in pictures with her date, saying “anything you do to her, I get to do to you.”  You will not find me wearing those disgusting “10 Rules for Dating My Daughter” tee shirts. You sure as hell will not find me at a “purity” ball, where my daughter pledges her virginity to me until her marriage. Does it even get creepier than that? Also, where the hell do we get off saying that virginity is “virtuous,” and “pure,” but only force it on our daughters?

No, instead, you’ll find me teaching my daughter to respect herself, hopefully helping her in making good decisions about the people she wants in her life in any capacity. You’ll find me consoling her when she gets it wrong, and cheering her on when she strives to get it right. You’ll find me giving her honest information, no matter how uncomfortable it may be for either of us. And hopefully, you’ll find her choosing to date people who respect her, who will treat her gently and kindly-and not because they are afraid of me, but because they are the kind of people who treat others gently and kindly. You’ll find me teaching her that she is the only person who makes rules regarding her body (unless, alas, the GOP wins the presidency. Those old white dudes seem pretty into making rules for women’s bodies).

It’s not for me to scare your boys, it’s for you to raise them right.

I say all that because the following anecdote may seem contrary, and I didn’t want to give the wrong impression on where I stand on the matter.

A few years ago, the kiddo had a little crush on a boy in school. Totally benign, the way crushes between fifth graders have been and always will be. She was probably ten years old at this point and we had already started discussions about her bodily autonomy and whatnot, so she knew the following was all in good humor. Also the kid she liked (and she would be very clear in saying today that she has no crushes other than Adam Levine) was then and remains a kind, sweet, smart boy who shall remain entirely anonymous.

Regardless, this boy’s mother happens to be an attractive woman who may or may not be a single parent. I never got to know her well enough to say more than “hello,” and pass some small talk when hanging around in the pick-up lines or what have you – but I’d be lying if I said I had never entertained the possibility of her being single. And so, one day, the kiddo and I had a conversation which went something like this:

“[REDACTED] did this funny thing in school today.”

“Oh really? You and [REDACTED] sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G!” I am the paragon of maturity.

“Dad! Stop,” she admonished, blushing and likely developing a deep-seated resentment.

“Ok. Sorry. Did you know his mom is single?” You know. She *might* have been single.


“So. You could date [REDACTED] and I could date his mom! It would be so much fun!”


“Seriously. We could all go out to dinner together. You know. Double date.”

At this she sighed, hung her head, and walked down the hallway to her room. Upon reaching her door, she looked up with hang-dog eyes.

“Dad. I’m a single lady,” she said, sighed again, and closed her door.

At the tender age of ten, I had cracked the dad-daughter dating code. I would date the mothers.

And thus, another step on the long march to king of all fathers was taken.



The Loneliest Number

Joy Division Love Will Tear Us Apart

A single father must hold two hearts.

The first heart, the dearest, perhaps, is the one wholly devoted to his child. This is the heart that wakes up in the middle of the night at the slightest cough. It is the heart that breaks for his sick child as he tries to sleep next to her in the hospital. It is this heart which is conditioned to protect his daughters above all else, and which his brain must check in order to allow her to blossom. This heart fills as the days pass, and aches as his daughter grows ever closer to growing away.

This is as it should be.

His second heart bleeds.

It is this heart he holds for himself, tentatively extending it to others in the hopes they will help heal old wounds. He retracts it when new pins are brought forth, only to be extended again when he thinks the recipient holds no pins. Some day, this heart hopes he is right. This is the heart we must hide from our children while it bleeds, and show as often as possible when it is whole and healthy and held.

It is not an easy balance.

When he dates, when he finds partners, before he can fully be with her she must know him a parent. And yet, as a parent, he does not want to involve her until he knows they are fully committed. It is a paradox I have yet to navigate successfully. I have a remarkable child I wish to share with just the right woman. For her to be just the right woman, she’ll have to love my daughter like her own – which risks pins in both of our hearts.

Hers has been stabbed more than once. Mine more than twice.

One of the difficult things when dating as a parent with a disabled child is that our lives are unpredictable. Things can be sailing along smoothly and suddenly we get two years of hospitalizations and stress. It can be hard to date us. It can be harder to love us. It takes a person of remarkable understanding and patience, a person with a boundless capacity for love. All too often, we discover too late that the person we suspected has these things does, in fact, not.

And so we retract our hearts. We mend. We fill our first heart with love, and we dine out for one.

And we tell ourselves it will be ok. Even when it doesn’t feel like it possibly can be. Even when love tears us apart. Again.

This blog is reborn. It will be an extension of that second heart to you, readers. It will document my attempts to extend it more personally to someone special, along with parenting, politics, prose, and products. Basically, whatever I feel like. Read if you like, but keep the pins at bay, won’t you?