When the problem hits home

I spent my summer working with the National Judicial Education Program at Legal Momentum, a program that addresses gender bias and sexual assault in the courts. Every day, I would read about women who suffered through awful marriages and even worse court rulings, due to the existence of this bias in the courts. But my internship experience was largely hands-off. I never met these women. I did not know them. I did not know their abusers. It didn’t even occur to me that I could know someone who could be that horrible.

Then I got a call from a friend back home. She had gone to a party the night before, and after a couple hours of drinking, wound up in a room with two guys that we both considered our friends. She has hooked up with both of them in the past. They preemptively decided that this meant they should be able to hook up with her at the same time. My friend had too much to drink that night, and is unsure what happened exactly. No one really knows.

After she told me this, I was in shock. How could two guys that I thought were friends of mine be the type of guys that take advantage of an intoxicated girl, someone who was clearly not in the state of mind to make a rational decision? More importantly, how could they disrespect someone that they considered a friend? If they were okay with treating her this way, what’s to say they wouldn’t treat me this way, too?

I wasn’t there, yet I feel compelled to never speak to these guys again. I feel that it would be hypocritical of me to do so. I spent eight weeks working for a department that deals with sexual assault, and one week into the semester a friend of mine is a victim at the hands of two other friends of mine.

The hardest part is that I feel like I’m the only one who feels this way. This happened back in Florida, yet I’m taking a stand from two states away while my friends back home have already moved on. My girlfriend who called me the next day is leaning towards forgiving both of these guys.

It’s come to a point where I have lost trust in all of my guy friends. There weren’t any signs that these two would ever take advantage of a girl. None at all. Are all my guy friends equally capable, including those here at Duke?

Before this summer, it was a lot easier avoiding the discussion of feminism and politics in my everyday life, mainly because I was oblivious to the social problems around me that stem from sexism. Now I see them everywhere, whether it’s a stupid comment made by a friend or something as extreme as what my friend experienced. I am just unsure how to deal with them in a way that won’t outcast me from my friends, and more importantly how to talk about these things with those who weren’t fortunate enough to go through the Moxie experience. The last thing I want is another one of my friends to go through a similar situation. I also don’t want to lose the ability to relate to others who may not agree with me on certain social issues. I used to think these things should remain private, but now that just seems wrong. These issues are too important to me.

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