U of A Confessions comments reveal apathy, need for empathy
The Internet is where souls go to die. And if that’s true, the apathy of Internet users is the cause of death.
Case in point: “I have slept with 50 guys since I was raped, have miscarried, and am now currently dating two people at the same time-each of opposite sex. i don’t want to hurt anybody, but all i can think of is how much i don’t want to be here. i am majoring in psychology just so i can figure myself out. does this make me a coward? afraid of commitment? nobody knows whats wrong with me.”
That was a confession posted by an anonymous user of the U of A Confessions Facebook page. The first reply she got: “Nah, it makes you a ho.”
Other gems include, “50 guys?! Come on now … your gonna blame that on a rape?” and “it called being a slut simple as that.”
Atrocious grammar aside, it’s hard to believe these responses were written by anyone in college. Isn’t empathy supposed to be something you learn as a child?
A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, conducted in 2010 and released last month, found that 35 percent of straight women had experienced rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner at some point in their lives.
But the percentage of women who experienced one of the three jumps to 43.8 percent of lesbians, and 61.1 percent of bisexual women.
Bisexual women were also the most likely to have been raped by anyone — partner or not. 89.5 percent of bisexual women said that they had experienced intimate partner violence only at the hands of male partners.
Researchers interviewed 9,086 women, and 96.5 percent of them identified as straight, while 2.2 percent identified as bisexual and 1.3 percent as lesbian. The study did not examine why lesbian and bisexual women appear to experience especially higher rates of violence, and finding that answer is probably beyond the scope of the CDC’s sample sizes.
At least part of the story is that sexuality is not a black-and-white issue, and part of what makes studies like this so significant is the approach we take to everyday things — like checking U of A Confessions.
For the record, although each of the three quoted responses to the original poster was written by a man, each was also “liked” by several people, including women.
This isn’t about asking those three commenters to be kinder or to imagine that his mother, sister or girlfriend had written the original poster’s confession.
It’s about the simple act of imagining your entire life thrown off course by an act of violence, committed against you, whether you’re a man or a woman.
It’s also about accepting that confessions like those are written by real people — people who may walk on campus alongside you, or sit beside you in class and actually exist as more than an Internet joke.
That said, it’s also worth noting that there were several really kind comments on the same U of A Confessions post, written by other women and men who urged the original poster to seek help from resources like Oasis and Counseling and Psych Services through UA Campus Health Service. They also invited the poster to reach out if she simply wanted to speak to a peer.
Rape is obviously a gendered crime — the statistics show an overwhelming majority of men committing violence against women. But violence impacts everyone, regardless of sexuality or relationship. And we should all practice empathy, regardless of gender or sexuality.
— Kristina Bui is the editor-in-chief of the Arizona Daily Wildcat. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter via @kbui1.