Editor’s note: The following article was submitted by a writer who has chosen to remain anonymous. Due to the nature of the article, we respect the writer’s decision, and are publishing the article without identifying the writer.
“This Is Not A Play About Sex” (TINAPAS) is an annual production that provides diverse perspectives on sex, romance and identity at Colgate. The play is meant to promote self-reflection and discussion, and to improve the sexual climate on campus. On the issue of sexual assault, TINAPAS failed miserably in its purpose, instead putting forward a sketch that was painful for survivors and detrimental to the understanding of sexual assault on this campus.
“After Hours,” the sketch in question, shows a woman receiving unwanted advances from a drunk man on the cruiser, culminating in him following her onto the sidewalk and dragging her away by her hair, presumably to rape her. While this incident is based on a true story, it is not what the vast majority of sexual assaults look like at Colgate. It is instead the portrayal of sexual assault that people find most easy to grapple with. On Colgate’s campus, intoxicated women are taken advantage of terrifyingly often, and their stories are cross-examined or written off because they don’t resemble that TINAPAS sketch. People were raised on the idea that rape happens in dark alleys with ripped clothing and sobbing women. By reinforcing this socially-accepted form of sexual assault, TINAPAS silences the voices of survivors whose experiences don’t fit that mold.
I am a survivor of sexual assault on Colgate’s campus. It has happened to me not once, not twice, but many times with many different men over the course of my time here. My experience never looked like the TINAPAS sketch. My experience looked like my friends saying, “I’m sure she’s fine! He’s kinda cute,” while a man lead my stumbling, intoxicated body into his room and shut the door. My experience looked like the fraternity’s designated driver forcing me to perform oral sex when I was too drunk to walk home, and then whispering,“Let’s keep this between us, okay?” as his semen dripped down my chin. My experience looked like waking up scared and confused, naked in a strange bed with a sweaty man wrapped around me and no memory of the night before.
But more importantly, my experience looked like no one believing me. When I confessed to one of my closest friends that her ex-boyfriend assaulted me, her first response was, “How can I ever trust you again? How do I know you won’t get drunk and [have sex with] all my exes?” She was an actor in TINAPAS. I’ve been asked, “How do you know you didn’t consent when you were blackout and you just don’t remember?” I’ve been interrogated about what I was wearing, what I said to him, if I ever said “no,” if I fought back, if I wasn’t just saying this now because I regretted sleeping with the guy.
No one wants to accept my experiences because then they would have to accept that they were that friend who let a guy drag off a far-too-intoxicated girl. They would have to accept that they were the guy who shoved his penis into a girl who could barely hold her head up. They would have to accept that their friends and classmates are rapists and survivors, and that the most beautiful campus in America has a hideous side.
It’s time for a change. The directors of TINAPAS stated that this year, some sketches were added and others changed to create a better representation of Colgate. I ask that next year a sketch is added that shows what sexual assault really looks like on Colgate’s campus. It doesn’t have to be my story, but it has to be a different story. I’m sorry that what happened to me doesn’t have the same dramatic visual impact as a man screaming, “CUNT! CUNT!” and then violently pulling a woman across the stage as depicted in “After Hours.” But it happened, and it can’t be ignored anymore.