Welcome to college. Try not to get raped.

by Janelle Hanchett

You are the person who thinks it’s “no big deal” that some young men hang banners from the balconies of their frat house with the words: “Freshman daughter drop off,” “Rowdy and Fun. Hope your baby girl is ready for a good time,” and “Go ahead and drop off mom too.”

It’s hard to believe you still exist, in 2015.

I want to rant and rave at you. I want to call you names and insult your intelligence and tell you to fuck right off a thousand ways. You support a culture that views women as objects to be consumed and taken at will.

You support a culture of rape.

And you do it openly. And you say it’s just your “opinion” as if it is that innocuous.

I fucking hate you.

But my hatred does nothing. So instead, I’ll just talk to you.

Let’s break down the messages of these banners. Translate them. Make explicit the implicit.

“Freshman daughter drop off:” The person you have raised and protected and adored as a child needs to be deposited into our hands so we can take over your role as parent and do with her what we will, which is have sex with her. We want to take advantage of her insecurity as a new student and attempt to play on her vulnerability.

You think I’m going too far? I’m not. They call her “daughter.” Ownership. Not even an autonomous human being. Somebody’s daughter. Somebody’s child. “Freshman:” New, young, nervous, unsure.

“Rowdy and fun. Hope your baby girl is ready for a good time.” More direct, same message. Baby girl. Reduced to infantile. Reduced to pure vulnerability. Purity. Perceived virginity. Don’t fucking tell me I’m reading too much into this: WHAT IS A BABY GIRL IF NOT AN INNOCENT VIRGIN?


Still not addressing THE YOUNG WOMAN IN QUESTION who may or may not want to have sex with a dude or 2 or 6 but that is not the point is it?

They’re writing to the parents. They’re not writing to her. They don’t give a shit about her. Her sexuality is a non-issue. Her desires are irrelevant. Her body is not her own.



The only people who matter are the parents, the ones who blocked them from getting to her vagina.

“Go ahead and drop off mom too:” Hell, we don’t care. We’ll fuck any warm body. Even if she’s old and gross, because we all know that’s what older women are.

We’ll fuck your baby girl and your wife. Two objects you own that we want.

These messages reduce women to bodies to be passed off between men: dads and husbands to frat boys.

These messages reduce women to THINGS to be TRADED between men.

Do I think these boys are posting these messages with full awareness of the what they’re saying? Maybe. Put probably not. They’re probably too fucking dumb for that. THEY ARE ABSORBING THE CULTURE AROUND THEM. THEY ARE ABSORBING THE CULTURE YOU ARE SUPPORTING EVERY TIME YOU SAY

You’re overly sensitive.

These are just boys being boys.

Young college boys are horny.

They’re just having fun.


Meanwhile, girls are raped.

Meanwhile, boys are growing up thinking this is what being a man means.

Meanwhile, our sons are reduced to douchebag morons with penises that blur humanity.

Meanwhile, our daughters are reduced to available or unavailable vaginas.

Meanwhile, our daughters are on the ground with a boot on their neck, choking under the power of a patriarchy that protects or consumes them, but never lets them breathe.


We buy a onesie that says “Daddy’s little princess.”

We buy a onesie that says “Lock your daughters up.”

We buy heels for our 3-year-old. She can’t run at the park anymore.

We put her in skirts and tell her to close her legs. They’ll see your panties!

Somebody’s older brother touched her. “Boys will be boys. He’s just exploring.”

She says nothing the 2nd time. The third the fourth the fifth.

We tell her to adhere to dress codes. Don’t show too much leg. That belly. Shame!

We tell her to buy some pepper spray.

We tell her not to get drunk.

Boys will be boys you know they are just having fun they can’t help themselves the power of their dicks is just too much LOOK AT THOSE PROMISING FOOTBALL CAREERS.

You want sex? No don’t have sex you’ll be a slut and nobody likes a slut be clean be good be respectable you can do anything YOU ARE DADDY’S LITTLE PRINCESS.

“Drop your baby girl off here.”

We’ve got it. We’ll take care of you now, little princess.


She shouldn’t have done that keg stand.

She shouldn’t have worn that skirt.

She shouldn’t have gone upstairs.

She shouldn’t have walked alone.

She shouldn’t have driven.

She shouldn’t have been born.


It’s no big deal.

You’re being too sensitive.

He was just horny.

He was just having fun.

Welcome to college, princess. Welcome to the world.


Ah shit, drop her mom off too.


111 Comments | Posted in politics | August 27, 2015
  • Sara Howard


    • Mark Makinney

      My wife showed me this. I shared it on my facebook page. Your words expose our porn culture. I am a therapist. I help porn addicts walk out of the porn trap. I used to be in that trap. The sick thing is that there are those who may be more offended by the swearing in your post than they are about the banners. I appreciated your swearing. It was necessary. We as a culture have our head in the sand and we choose to get our undies in a twist over things like abortion and divorce all the while avoiding the fact that our politicians/police/teachers/pastors/doctors/counselors are weekly feeding their mind with porn. Those banners are porn. Porn is angry and abusive and degrading and so were those banners. But as you pointed out, it is not the banners that are the real problem its the culture that says with a wink and a nudge that women are objects to be used. I have two young boys and if I saw that on a college campus I would want to get out and punch someone, but punching isn’t acceptable. . . but those banners are? Perhaps what we need is for men to stand up and say, ‘This is Bullshit. Take down that banner or I’ll kick your ass’. Why are women the only ones up in arms about this? Where are these idiots fathers? Probably watching porn.

      • neesoj

        Brave. thank you. I have to admit, ironically, the drop off your mom too, made me laugh, despite all that I have experienced, and all that I know. It makes me wonder what part of me made me laugh, as all of this knowledge was dropped on me late, (once your eyes are forced open…) but I think it is the stupidity of it all…that people Do actually think like this, and it encourages the less intelligent, to follow through on degrading women..

        • Elena

          It actually made me laugh too. I think it was the shock factor, the absurdity of it. Trust me, they wouldn’t WANT me dropped off (I would have them all scrubbing toilets and taking out trash!) and my freshman daughter won’t likely give any guy like that the time of day!

  • Kerry

    Those banners make me want to cry, and throw up, and beat the crap out of someone. I have 2 little boys and I’ll be damned if they’re going to do that crap. And if I ever find out they participated in anything of the sort, they’ll be enjoying community college while living at home. I pray to whatever god is out there that I’m teaching them better than this. I just wonder if my voice will ever be loud enough.

    • Emma

      I hope it is! Maybe if our voices combine, together we can make a difference. If I were these boys parents, I would be so ashamed and I am totally against violence but this makes me want to smack them

    • Diana

      On point, sister!

  • Carrie

    Unacceptable. The boys. The college. The administration who have done nothing. It is all unacceptable.

    • Travis

      Yes. We humans have a long way to go to mature as a species.

  • Amy

    100% yes.
    ‘You’re too sensitive’ is another way of saying ‘Shut up.’
    I love that you won’t shut up.
    Thank you

  • chris

    I’m a father of 3 daughters and 2 sons, I don’t think these signs are funny at all, those boys need a lesson on how to be adult men and stop being adult children.

    • Murph

      I agree. And how is it that the school authorities let this happen. If the signs went up unknown to the school, I hope there were serious repercussions. . . . like expulsion!

  • Celeste

    Thank you. You put words to my outrage. I shared this one on my fb and am hoping some people get the point about why this crap is NOT OK.

  • Courtney

    Those pictures are horrible. Makes me afraid for my two girls and their future.

  • Kari

    Thank you.

  • Shay

    Seeing those banners and comments even supporting this makes me literally sick to my stomach. I really loved how you touched upon the fact that some of the boys probably do not have full awareness of what they’re saying but they have absorbed the culture around them. So true and you pretty much said everything I have been feeling but have been unable to articulate.

  • Michael

    I saw this culture 20 years ago when I was in college. I see it today. My niece is at a small college in the Northeast. My daughter will likely be at college in 17 years or so. The universities often don’t react strongly enough, if at all. We know that. Change is staggeringly incremental. I was, at least, encouraged by the general student body outrage at ODU. Thank you for writing.

  • Maria

    Thank you. I work on a college campus and have to see this shit every year. This is even after the most disgusting frat got disbanded because they thought date rape was such a TOTALY OKAY THING TO DO that they posted a video of it on Facebook.

  • amanda

    As a mother of boys and employee of a domestic violence/sexual assault nonprofit: thank you!!!!!!!!

  • Heather


    In the filmmakers’ words:

    At a young age, boys learn that to express compassion or empathy is to show weakness. They hear confusing messages that force them to repress their emotions, establish hierarchies, and constantly prove their masculinity. They often feel compelled to abide by a rigid code of conduct that affects their relationships, narrows their definition of success and, in some cases, leads to acts of violence resulting in what many researchers call a “boy crisis.” Our society’s failure to recognize and care for the social and emotional well-being of our boys contributes to a nation of young men who navigate adversity and conflict with an incomplete emotional skill set. Whether boys and later men have chosen to resist or conform to this masculine norm, there is loneliness, anxiety, and pain.

    • alesy

      yes! someone talking about the real problem here!!!!

    • Kim

      I am well aware that rape culture hurts boys and men as well, but seriously? Women don’t even get to own the problem, because the real problem is how we treat boys?

      • STEFANI

        What part of rape is the past the woman should own. ..what part of the rape culture is ours as women. When I was raped I owned my part in it and for almost 40 years believed that I was to blame because I walked down the same street at night that I had walked down at night countless times before but if I hadn’t walked down it that one night I would not have been raped. All of that is true but it doesn’t make me responsible for my rape and it took 40 years for me to learn that. Well 40 years and a good therapist who used the following analogy. ..you are crossing the street in the crosswalk with the sign saying “walk” when a drunk runs the red light and plows right into you. Is it your fault? Of course not. ..and nobody or there would even think to suggest that you carried any blame. But the same logic is rarely applied to rape…we women carry blame for rape though we did nothing wrong. So I ask you again Kim what part of the problem should women own?

    • Freya B

      While this is a valid point, it’s all part of the bigger picture, which is that sexism/misogyny/rape culture hurts EVERYONE. It hurts the women who are being threatened, insulted and assaulted, and it hurts the men who are squeezed into the ideal for what a man is supposed to be that doesn’t fit. That’s why it’s so important that we work to dismantle all of these toxic ideas, because both our daughters and our sons deserve better.

    • Natalie

      I’ve been thinking and speaking on this for a looooong time and agree that it is A real problem. However, it is NOT an acceptable excuse for passing over this type of behavior, or the culture that supports it.

      I’m raising two boys and working super hard to acknowledge and support their emotional well-being, which involves surrounding them in the most supportive community, which is very hard to do given what we know of the perceived masculine norm.


      • Diana

        YES and YES. I’m raising a son who is a military brat. Double whammy on the “perceived masuline norm,” sister.

        What we are doing as mothers matters SO much.

        • JP Gal

          And fathers! Where are the fathers who are raising their sons to be kind, loving, vulnerable and wise adults who will make good decisions and hold other men accountable for bad decisions? Women can’t fix this on our own. We ALL need to take it seriously and work to end it. Right now.

      • SC

        Maybe it’s not so-called “rape culture” at all, but the pervasiveness of “hook-up culture” on college campuses that leads young men and women to see each other as sexual objects.

        Here’s an article from Mona Charen that explains it better than I could.


  • Snarkfest

    My daughter is a freshman at WVU and she actually drove by that sign on Move-In day (the one that’s geotagged at WVU). She was appalled at the sign and has already told me she doesn’t feel comfortable even considering going to frat parties if that is the mentality. She is in marching band, and she has told me she feels as if those band friends are her family and would much prefer to hang out with them than to experiment with a frat party. The only GOOD that comes out of behavior like this is it turns young girls off from ever setting foot into one of those places.

    • K.B.

      I grew up in Morgantown. Please tell her to never go to a frat party and at bars only order beer in bottles that you can easily cover the opening with your finger. So much stuff never gets in the paper…

  • Nick S.

    Thank you for writing this and making it explicit. It’s fucking disgusting. I have an 18-year-old son who (I think) is NOTHING like that. And a 4-year-old son whom I will do my best to guide away from that bullshit. It just infuriates me.

    • Elena

      Thank you for being the type of father to show them a proper example of a respectable man growing up!

  • Renia Carsillo

    Feeling this one today as I’ve been forced to talk to my 11-year-old son about porn this week.

    Well written, hard hitting and true.

    • Bob

      If your child has access to the internet, or a smart phone, even if it is not his own, then you have waited far too long. Children start looking at porn in elementary school nowadays, usually by about 8. While I realize that most people would like to believe children, or at least their child is not a sexual being, trust me when I say that is NOT the case for most children, male children in particular. Though the females are catching up. I am not condemning pornography, many people I know saw it at a young and and have turned out fine, though of course it can become an addiction like anything nowadays. The trick is to recognize this and make sure that your children have a healthy understanding of sex, being repressive is just as bad if not worse than being unaware.

  • Aimee

    I read your article, then looked at the pictures, then started crying. You see, I have three beautiful daughters and when I saw the boys in those pictures my mind started screaming “Don’t you fucking touch my daughters you nasty fuck!” This is my worst nightmare and yet…we live in an overly sexualized society, where porn addiction is rampant, where girls aren’t really taught to love themselves enough to not subject themselves to these kind of guys. My worst nightmare is that I know I won’t always be there. They’ll have to make their own decisions. Dear God, I hope I raise 3 women who love and respect themselves enough to tell guys like that to fuck off.

    • Aimee

      *Has anyone contacted the deans at these institutions? These frats have got to be violating the school’s code of conduct, right?

      • Snarkfest

        Aimee, YES I emailed WVU and got this response:

        We had some banners that were erected at off-campus houses (not even certain they were student houses), but none at our fraternity houses, that I am aware of at least. As one mother who wrote me about this stated,

        “We really wanted you to be aware that it occurred but what you do, I am not sure. As my parents told me when I was young it is not against the law to be stupid or crazy. There was a lack of judgement and corse behavior, I am sure we all have been guilty of either in our lives. One aspect is that it puts everyone in a bad light, and when you are representing your school you represent everyone.”

        We couldn’t agree more. Please know that we had some of our senior administrators, student government members as well as law enforcement officers from both WVU and Morgantown PD approach those who had these banners displayed and asked them to remove them. We had success with some and unfortunately, with others we did not – evoking freedom of speech – which we are also cognizant of as an institution of higher education. We are also reaching out to landlords to discuss options for reigning this in in the future as far as lease addendums.

        As you can see from the article this is something that, once again, many schools unfortunately struggle with. It will be interesting to see how this stance that ODU has taken against the fraternity will play out. We are all watching with hopeful optimism for smarter decisions on the parts of all students moving forward. As many fail to consider in this age of social media, these pictures and reports will follow them forever – to jobs, when they become parents, etc. It is as much an opportunity for educating and reminding students to think beyond today with these actions as anything.

        • Wendy

          Response written by a man I’m sure…..

        • Elizabeth Cox

          I’m assuming the students are not minors. Have their names been released so this will follow them forever?

        • Sue

          That person is an admin at a college and does not know the difference between rein and reign? Pft.

  • LisaC

    I want to post this on every fucking telephone pole on every campus and then read it out loud on every corner.

    This double standard culture makes me sick to my stomach. If I had driven up, I would’ve jumped out of the car and pulled those fucking signs off the homes and slapped each of those dumb ass morons who were proud to hang them. And looked around for their moronic parents who incredibly probably find them funny.

    Funny? Not at all. I remind my son before every party or get together that those girls are someone’s daughters, someone’s sister, etc. and they deserve as much respect as his sisters do. And my daughters are reminded to never be alone…use the buddy system…be safe. And I hate that I even have to say those things because in my mind, it implies some fault on their part if they are attacked. It’s a trap.

    • MARTHA

      Lisac, I will say this with respect, and in a non-judgemental way at all, as I very much respect the fact that you are educating your boy on this issue.
      I would like to ask you to ponder, though: is saying “respecter her because she is someone’s daughter, sister, etc.” not perpetuating even further this notion of “it deserves respect because of the person it belongs to”?
      I know that the easiest path our brains will follow in trying to explain the wrongness of the situation to someone who is the opposite gender may be exactly that – to take a female, whom they love, to give them a personal reference to empathize with.

      But please consider why can we not teach boys by saying instead: “What would you feel like if someone did that, not to your sister/wife/daughter but to YOU?” Do not do this to girls, because how would you feel if someone did this to you? How would you feel if someone forcefully grabbed you and raped you? How would you feel if somebody drugged you and did to your body as they will while you remained unconscious? How would you feel if you’d agreed to have sex with someone, and once you started it, you no longer felt like it for whatever reason? And you said no, and they didn’t stop? And you said no and they didn’t stop?

      And in case we think a sexual situation is too difficult to relate to because heeeey horny boys, then why not ask them simply the question: how would it feel to have somebody lock you down and force you to do something? How would it feel to be forced to something you do not want? Either by force, or because you’ve been drugged?? Have them ponder it. Have them imagine THEMSELVES, and empathize with how that would feel.

      It’s so so so important to make people respect people. To make people relate to people. I’d dare say to be as explicit as needed, but to make people relate to people, not make people relate to the subject’s father, brother, whatever. You’re not trying to spare these girls’ brothers or fathers. You’re trying to spare the girls.

      To finalise I will say that I am well aware that rape to males absolutely exists and it’s as horrible, if not more (because not as recognised), as rape to girls. I’ve just kept my comment to this particular type of situation.

      • Ibit Mylip

        YES to this (and many of your other points):
        “I would like to ask you to ponder, though: is saying “respecter her because she is someone’s daughter, sister, etc.” not perpetuating even further this notion of “it deserves respect because of the person it belongs to”?”

  • Leslie

    When I gave birth to my daughter six months ago, we didn’t know her sex ahead of time. I have to admit I thought a son would be easier in the long run, because of crap like this. Now that I have a daughter, this shit pisses me off so, so much more.

  • Melissa

    Thank you!!!!!!! These boys are disgusting and need to be punished. It’s not right and it is the culture most people don’t think twice about. We are not right as a culture. It is always going to take the minority to never give up and never stop advocating for the unheard voices, until everyone else will start to get it.

    On a positive note, I am so happy you are back to blogging once a week!!!!! I am always so excited when you have a new post.

    • chris

      The right to freedom of expression is recognized as a human right under article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and recognized in international human rights law in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Article 19 of the ICCPR states that “[e]veryone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference” and “everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice”. Article 19 additionally states that the exercise of these rights carries “special duties and responsibilities” and may “therefore be subject to certain restrictions” when necessary “[f]or respect of the rights or reputation of others” or “[f]or the protection of national security or of public order (order public), or of public health or morals”.

      • Jay

        Freedom of Speech does not mean Freedom from Consequence. Yes, you may say what you want, but say the wrong thing and there will be, and SHOULD BE, repercussions. Yell fire in a crowded movie theater? Share state secrets? Give away the coordinates to our military troops to a war-time enemy? Yeah, you are free to say those things — but you are certainly in no way free from the consequences those things bring.

        You are also free to say stupid and wrong things. Like spread misinformation — such as anit-vax stupidity, saying climate change doesn’t exist, or discounting what thousands of scientists from around the world have proven as factual for decades. Sure, you can say it, but your ignorance does not make you saying it out loud suddenly true.

        • TheProzacQueen

          …not to mention that schools, landlords, workplaces etc have every right to decide what sorts of behavior they do and don’t want on their property. Speech is part of that.

          I could be wrong, but it was my understanding from civics class that the First Amendment was about what *the government* can or can’t do in regards to speech…not what ABC University or XYZ Discussion Forum can or can’t do. Again, I could be wrong.

    • Janice

      These boys need counselling. That would really teach them. Make them speak about feelings and stuff.

      • chris

        Those boys need to be held accountable for their actions. Hiding behind signs that make it harder for parents to see their daughters leave home for the first time and fearing the worst and scaring these girls also.

        • katie

          I like that you included Article #19, Chris

          • chris

            Freedom of speach and expression does come with responsibility and some people don’t get it..

  • Meg

    Thank you for putting into words what I’m too angry to say.

  • Janice

    Thank you a thousand times. I have three sons (4, 8 and 12). As a society we need to change the way we raise boys. I do my best to teach empathy to my kids every day, to hear them and allow them space to have feelings so that they don’t turn into monsters.

    Those young men have become monsters, but they were once little boys like mine. Although I feel real hate for them, they are merely a symptom of our sick society.

    My response to your words is tears and rage – how do we focus it towards change?

  • Jean

    This makes me beyond sad. It is sickening and maddening. Thank you for writing about it with such honesty. I can only hope that when my baby girl does leave for college in 17 years, things will have improved.

  • Minx

    I’m so glad these signs were not posted when I was a freshman in 1969. Many of the boys were still pigs when it came to how they felt about women, but at least there was SOME semblance of respect.

    I was in a sorority and hung out with “Greeks,” and although there were probably random cases of date rape, for the most part, disrespect to women was frowned upon.

    I thought.

    Now I am wondering if we were just ostriches with our heads buried in the sand. What was really going on?

    Sad, sad, sad.

    I am so glad my husband and I never had children. I know that sounds harsh, but I would not be able to handle this sort of stress.

    Very good article.

  • Sarah

    Administrations have thrown children out of school or suspended them for facebook posts, yet this is acceptable on college campuses?

  • Miriam

    I’m so sickened by those photos. Your words are true and clear. We can only hope that those boys become fathers someday and realize how utterly disgusting their behavior was. My prayer is that they have daughters whom they grow to love beyond words, whom they learn to truly value, empower and celebrate. And that they have sons whom they raise to be MEN instead of brutish, disgusting monsters. And that they don’t do any real harm to anyone else’s children in the meantime.

  • Mamacrat

    It’s horrific. We’re so unhealthy as a society about sex.

    AND I’m very pleased to share that a friend who works at an Ivy (and yes, sexual assault happens there too) is showing this to the men’s athletic teams and those who don’t have consent and are accused of assault will be held accountable! Progress.

    • mbwest

      This is a great metaphor. It’s humorous and serious.Simple yet nuanced. I’m using it to teach high school kids and they instantly “get it.”

  • Amanda F

    Janelle… I want to kiss you! What a wonderfully written and powerful piece. As a mother of a 9 year old (going on 19) and a 1 year old, I am truly petrified for what kind of a world my girls will be going out into when it’s time; and I am NOT that Mom who wraps them in bubble wrap and holds their hands. I know they will be wonderful and independent, but it will be the people around them that will scare the shit out of me. I’m almost positive!

  • Nearly raped freshman

    So, I drove under a sign that said “Thank you fathers for your virgin daughters” on my way to my freshman year of University eight hours from home, my first time ever on my own. Within the first week, I was nearly raped in a secluded upstairs room of a Sigma Nu frat house during our first “mixer”. Heavy drinking was encouraged and I don’t know how I managed to get out from under my aggressor except that he was momentarily distracted while unbuckling his belt while he sat firmly on top of me. I managed to pull my elbow up and use all my force and fear to hit him in the crotch and I screamed and cried and ran…funny, no one thought it was a big deal BECAUSE I GOT AWAY. I was afraid to press charges because I thought he’d find me and I knew he’d be thrown out of the frat and probably lose his scholarship. Sickened to see those signs, brings back all the ugly feels.

    • mother of grown sons

      query *nearly raped freshman*..why did you care if this person was kicked out and lost his scholarship..?? he broke the law, both government and uni laws whether he fulfilled his task or not..he did not deserve to keep his scholarship..it should be taken away from him and awarded to a student who was worthy to make full use of it..organizations dont want to be giving out these precious funds to people who wont be living up to their full potential..you in turn are perpetuating this lifestyle by not reporting these louts..how can these low life’s be stopped if victims WONT stand up to them..?? it is NOT your fault that this happened, it is YOUR fault if you WONT put a stop to it because you worry about their feelings, they WERE NOT worried about yours at the time..

      • Nearly raped freshman

        Try to understand my side please…I was honestly scared shitless and everybody kept saying to forget about it. Even the female chaperones. I was SO scared that if he was crazy and aggressive enough to try to rape me that he would come back and come after me and do even worse. I have struggled for years (this was in 1990) with my decision to not report him, I KNOW I should have. It wasn’t his feelings I was worried about, it was my safety. I regret it.

        • An

          Please don’t have any regrets. You did the best you could given the situation at that time. You have enough to cope with. Having regrets won’t help. I have pressed charges and unfortunately it didn’t matter.

        • Ibit Mylip

          NRF: we hear you, we believe you, you are not alone.

          To all: Whether it happened yesterday or 50 years ago, if you were sexually assaulted (even if you “got away” or weren’t penetrated or froze up or are afraid you won’t be believed, please talk to someone.

          RAINN will help you: http://goo.gl/Y8jMFK

          If “something happened” but you’re not sure whether it “counts” as sexual assault, talk to someone http://goo.gl/Y8jMFK

          We hear you and we believe you. It was not your fault. We will not second-guess the decisions you made during or after you were attacked. We believe you.

          • Ibit Mylip

            I Believe You, It’s Not Your Fault: notes from your big sibling


          • SC

            It’s interesting that you bring up RAINN in this discussion.

            In 2014, they provided recommendations to the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault.

            One of the recommendations was to ignore the “unfortunate” chatter about so-called “rape culture.” RAINN acknowledges that rape in America is not caused by cultural factors, the way it is in Afghanistan, for example, but “by the conscious decisions, of a small percentage of the community, to commit a violent crime.”

            You can find the specifics in this link: https://www.rainn.org/images/03-2014/WH-Task-Force-RAINN-Recommendations.pdf

            The information is found under the boldface heading, “Perpetrators of Campus Sexual Assault: What We Know.”

            Even though most rapists are men, most men are not rapists.

      • An

        To mother of grown sons: have you ever been in a situation to report or press charges? Every woman that I have worked with that stood up for herself was laughed at and nothing ever came of it. The guys get a slap on the hand. So please don’t be a dick and make her feel guilty for her choices. She protected herself the best she could given her situation, support network etc. No right for you to judge.

    • Jen

      That is terrifying. And I feel your pain. There were no signs like this at the university I went to, but the attitude was prevalent. The first weekend there, my roommate dragged me to a party where I had no more than 2-3 (weak) drinks because I didn’t like the taste of alcohol. I ended up in a room talking to a really nice guy. After about 20 minutes of chatting, the really nice guy threw me down on his bed, tore off my clothes (destroying my top and undergarments in the process) and held me down while he did what he wanted. Once he was done, he passed out and I grabbed my clothes off the floor (not realizing that it was his t-shirt I’d grabbed and not my own because I was fucking TERRIFIED, and once I figured it out I didn’t care. There was no way in hell I was going back there) and ran. I went to campus security. They took one look at me wearing some dude’s t-shirt and no bra, obviously a little tipsy because I wasn’t used to drinking and laughed hysterically before telling me to get out before they had ME arrested for stealing the guy’s shirt. That was in 2008. Knowing that this type of shit still goes on almost a decade later makes me hate everything. I now have a 2-year-old son and I am making damn sure that he has nothing to do with assholes like this unless he’s telling them to “fuck right off a thousand ways” as Janelle so eloquently put it.

      • Nearly raped freshman

        Tears for you Jen. I can’t even. Good for you for going to campus security and I’m SO sorry that you had to deal with their reaction. I’m sure your son will be NOTHING like the boys in this piece.

  • Kim

    I agree, but personally I find the dress codes and lock your daughters up onesies way more offensive. By the time I went to college I knew what guys were taught to respect me as person, and who viewed my as a piece of ass. I was more than capable of staying away from frat houses like that. But when I had to bring a pair of pants to my 11 year old step daughter, who had to be called out of class, interrupted her learning, near tears of embarrassment, because of shorts that were too short, I felt disgust in the lesson she learned. We talked about how she did nothing wrong, and even the rape culture they were forcing, but that doesn’t change how she felt that day. Boys and girls need to be taught these lessons way before college. Maybe if they were discussed before college, “boys don’t rape people” in particular, the college rape rate would drop. And we wouldn’t be seeing these banners.

  • SC

    These boys (not men) are absolutely disgusting. Unfortunately, I’m not sure anything can be done about idiocy like this, especially when it happens off-campus. If nothing else, these boys are being publicly shamed and castigated for so blatantly transgressing against common standards of decency.

    Here’s a very provocative discussion held at Brown University that addresses the problem of sexual assault on campus from two different feminist points of view.

  • Kelly

    How would everyone feel if these banners were stating messages of hate and terrorism? Few people would be shrugging that off (“oh they’re just kids, let them have their fun – Hahaha”). This should be NO DIFFERENT. Making a joke about terrorism can land you in jail these days, or at least a lengthy interrogation by police. Why is joking about harming girls and women something to chuckle over? I try not to fear for my daughter. I hope to teach her to have enough self respect, wits, and sense to steer clear of idiots like these. The only problem is – the idiots are everywhere.

    • JP Gal

      These banners are stating messages of hate and terrorism!

  • Espy

    What I find most chilling is that they’re spitting in the parent’s eye like that. They’re basically saying the parents are powerless to protect their children. To me that’s analogous to a cop killer. Fuck you, parents, we own this school (neighborhood) and there’s not a goddamned thing you can do. Maybe it’s time for more mothers and fathers to join the fight instead of leaving our daughters – and I’m sure a surprisingly large number of our sons – to battle on alone.

    • SC

      I’m not so sure that anyone thinks these idiots are the ones running the show at their university. The articles I’ve read indicate that this was one fraternity, Sigma Nu, that quickly got suspended by the national organization. Basically, these boys got “owned”, not the other way around.

      If I were a freshman girl, I would feel absolutely disgusted seeing these banners on my way into school for the first time. But I imagine that these young women’s parents are probably completely fucking livid and threatening to yank their tuition dollars for being so insulting to their daughters and themselves.

      I imagine more than one Old Dominion Dad (and maybe Mom) is also considering showing up at the Sigma Nu house in the middle of the night, just to teach these cretins some manners.

      • chris

        On a positive view, we can thank the boys for letting our daughters know about their future sex offending goals and giving mom and dad a heads up on onother discussion on be careful and cautious. Stupid boys..

  • Mary

    Powerfully put, Janelle. This entire subject makes me angry and incredibly sad. It IS a cultural sickness. It is not “just some isolated bad boys”. It’s our culture. I teach high school. I see the underpinnings of rape culture in dress codes, casual student conversations, teacher gossip, parent comments. WE, as a culture, are very sick. And it’s up to all of us to heal.

  • Jenny

    Thank you for writing this, Janelle. Finding out about these banners pretty much made me sick. I thought we had come further than this as a culture. I hope we can still.

  • Liz

    Thank you so much for writing this. I saw these signs online and I felt physically nauseous. *hugs*

  • Erin

    Boys hang banners objectifying women? “Boys will be boys.”

    Two boys want to marry each other? Morally reprehensible.


    Thank you, Janelle, for your eloquence and spot-on analysis in this post.

  • Wendy

    As always, you are spot on!! Thank you for being you!

  • mbwest

    My sweet 18 year old daughter is going to university in just a couple weeks. Thank you for writing this.

  • Therese

    Say it! Thank you.

  • Alex

    Horrified ..

  • Elizabeth Cox

    When I saw this pictures it made me sick. Suck that there were men out there who thought it not just funny but okay to hang such signs. Sick that there were women who thought it was funny and no big deal because guys just like to party. Are you really not seeing past the fact they’re not talking about partying or do you just not care? Sick that I’m raising my daughter in a world where it’s funny to joke about rape. Sick that when women are raped they are not treated as victims. How are these parents supposed to drop their daughters off at college seeing these signs and not fear for their daughters? Why is it okay for colleges to have frats that are so bad girls are told as freshman not to enter their frat house because they will get raped. When will we learn? Will it be when my daughter goes to college, when her daughter goes? Will we ever?

  • Jess

    I want to vomit. I can’t believe or understand why humans are still raising humans to behave like this, or why this behavior is tolerated on or even around a campus!

  • Skylar

    I agree with just about everything you’ve said. This is the kind of feminism I like to see. I’m just so sick of all the bullshit from both sides. The ones who say we don’t need feminism anymore now that women can vote(like it’s the only thing that’s important), and the extremists on the opposite side that despise men simply for being men.

    The only points I disagree with are the snip about the “Daddy’s Little Princess” onesie(is a father not allowed to cherish and be proud of his daughter?), and the idea that society shouldn’t have to carry things like pepper spray to protect themselves. The sad fact is, we are a violent species. I know men who carry pepper spray and mace for protection. Usually because they can’t carry a firearm though.

  • Nancy

    I have a 12 yo son and some days I don’t know where to even start… We have very open frank conversations but peer pressure at 12 is unbelievable! I am astounded by the crap he is told by other kids. I went to a predominately female college and the percentage of girls that were raped (30+ years ago) was astounding. It was all hushed up because we had a reputation to uphold. Bullshit… I personally think all kids need to be taught much better in childhood to respect themselves and each other. Sex should be an act of love not violence.Friends are trying to keep there boys away from porn but if a kid wants to find it or it becomes taboo then they might seek it. I have tried to explain that porn is violence and that the human form is beautiful and should be honored. I wish I had a better teaching model…

  • CP

    The students who created these banners should be arrested. The schools where these implied threats are occurring should expel the students making these banners or face legal action.

  • Grisha

    Socially, I see this reaction as a problem for the feminist movement, because it is a “boy who cries wolf” scenario. If you spew a maelstrom of outrage over frat boy jokes, or similar non-events, I will start tuning you out when you express outrage in general. I will label you, consciously or unconsciously, as an over-reactor. I won’t be the only one, and your voice will lose power in the marketplace of ideas.

    Personally, I have a baby girl we’ll someday drop off at college, and both of her parents thought the ODU signs were pretty funny. At its worst, it tells a young woman who the douchebags are, and where NOT to go to party. I am raising a self-sufficient and self-aware human being, who will make her own social and sexual decisions. I am hoping (still a bit early to tell) that my insistence on martial arts training will pay off both physically and spiritually, and she’ll be a buzzsaw fighter who can stand up for herself even with a larger guy.

    These signs were young guys poking at the old guys, by jokingly threatening to have sex with their women. I guess you can read that as making the women into objects, and thus perpetuating rape culture, etc. (of course, rape itself is not even implied by these signs themselves). However, if your reaction, rather than a frown, is frothing at the mouth about this (which this whole article is), you’re not doing yourself any favors. I’m not going to listen.

    • Lattewitch

      Rape isn’t important enough that it calls for rage and zero tolerance? Really?

      What you’re saying is women should be demure and just frown and then become jiu jitsu black belts so hopefully we can defends ourselves when our frowns aren’t stern enough. You’re saying our anger and pain should be tucked away so we can be taken seriously because…what, it’s more ladylike?

      I hope for your daughter’s sake that you take rape culture more seriously than you have in your comment.

    • speakeasy25

      Oh, no!! What will we do without all that egalitarian support you’ll be withholding?!?! How will we survive? Whatever will we DO? I’ll be right back–I have to go take a martial arts class to fight back against my fear of not having you on our side.

  • Hollis

    We need to teach girls “defensive decorum” like we teach them defensive driving. Dress classy. Speak like an adult. Keep away from obviously bad situations, like drunken frat parties. Stay sober. Hold yourself in high regard. Learn skills that will keep you gainfully employed so you never have to rely on an abusive mate. And college men how use their position on campus to voice vile and filthy nonsense should be expelled, pronto They don’t belong there. “Your circumstances never control you, they only reveal you to yourself.”

    • renegademama

      Nope. Victim blaming.

    • Ibit Mylip

      Hollis, you may not realize it, but your comment perfectly encapsulates the essence of rape culture, and encourages the status quo.

      And it’s not just women who are raped and sexually assaulted. Men and boys are raped and sexually assaulted, too.

    • JP Gal

      Sadly, so many women believe this kind of thing because no one wants to be raped and it is easier to believe that we can prevent being raped by acting and doing certain things than to acknowledge the truth. And the truth is that most women are raped by someone we know, someone we met in what everyone would consider an appropriate social setting, someone we even consider a friend. Society views stranger rape as “real” rape when the exact opposite is true.

    • SC

      The BLAME for a crime always belongs to the criminal. Whether my house gets burglarized because I post my vacation plans on Facebook and leave my house unattended, or someone steals my phone and wallet because I get drunk and pass out on a couch at a party, the blame still belongs with the criminal. They are the ones who chose to commit an illegal act, not me.

      However, a reasonable person would acknowledge that I increased my RISK for being targeted by a criminal in those scenarios because of my own actions or lack thereof.

      We have no problems locking our doors and windows at night. We know not to post vacation plans on Facebook. We keep tabs on our phones, wallets, and purses when we’re out in public. But when it comes to personal assault, we dismiss suggestions for teaching sensible risk-mitigation strategies, and instead stick our collective heads in the sand while chanting the useless and offensive mantra, “Teach men not to rape.”

      Why is it that we have no problem assessing risk and taking defensive measures when it comes to property crime, but we have a blind spot when it comes to physical assault?

  • Historian

    Rape culture?

    Excuse me for asking the obvious question….

    Which one of those banners suggests that *anyone* is getting raped?

    Yes, the banners are tasteless, crude, rude, and crass. They suggest that the house that posted them are full of classless idiot horn-dogs. If I were an incoming freshman or parent, I’d nod and decide that was someplace that had no interest to me. But nothing on those banners in fact suggest anything illegal or non-consentual. And freedom of speech, a celebrated virtue in this country, holds that you *can* say things that make you out to be a classless idiot.

    And if one really don’t want to infantalize your college-age daughter, you as a parent had best be prepared for them to be exposed to the idiocy of young men, especially those that have not been reared to be gentlemen. Lucky for all involved, this is an example that should be *easy* for a daughter who has been brought up using her brain to decide has little interest for her. Only if she has been brought up by post-modern helicopter parents,raised in a bubble, and never exposed to the society of people who are hot of the same race/class/ideology is she liable to mistake this for something attractive.

    Incidentally, the college suspended the frat for the signs…and is probably going to get sued for violating it’s members civil rights. Dumb all the way around. Instead, they should have been made a bad example of, turned into a teachable moment….and relentlessly mocked. You know, using freedom of speech in a positive way to drive out those with stupid and negative things to say. Wonder what would have happened if the local NOW chapter would have had a banner out there noting that “This frat is looking for freshmen, because the sophomores KNOW they are losers.”

    • renegademama

      This article was more written to the people who defend these idiots as funny and these messages as “not a big deal.” I thought I made that pretty clear in the first couple paragraphs. That not only are we living in a culture where young men think this is okay, but we have ADULTS DEFENDING THEM. That is the culture of rape, in part: A culture that produces people who view women as objects (manifesting in banners or the defense of those banners).

  • Elena

    This is exactly the reason my daughter has been looking at colleges that do NOT have Greek Life on campus.. That is most often where this type of attitudes festers. (Not at all fraternities, but at some)

  • Renee

    Perfectly said Janelle. I remember when my husband and I brought our oldest to a local college for the first time. We drove past a frat house with beer kegs outside and a huge sign that said “Fathers, drop your daughters off here”. It really shook me up! What was I getting my baby into???? Fortunately, she has a pretty level head on her shoulders and she did just fine at college. This was 15 years ago. I WILL NEVER forget that sign. It was not funny then and is sure as hell not funny to me now. Thanks for speaking up Janelle. Again, it was perfectly said!

  • JP Gal

    Renegade Mom, thank you, thank you a thousand times over for this. As righteous and clear as your words are, however, I couldn’t help but notice the passive voice in this sentence: “Meanwhile, girls are raped.”

    No, girls don’t “get” raped, like someone “gets” a cold. Rape isn’t out there like some mysterious virus that can’t be seen. Men and boys rape women and girls. Period. Unless we name it, and name it again and again and again, we can’t change it. A girl or woman is raped when a boy or man decides to rape her. It doesn’t happen any other way.

  • Mathew

    I find it disheartening that the author thinks she is not ranting and thinks that she is talking TO people and not AT them.

    If you are breaking down and interpreting someone’s message, you are telling them what it means to you, not what it means. The anger and rage are apparent in the article.

    As much as many of us want to find a way forward to a remedy, I would argue that if you are putting words in other peoples’ mouths, you are hurting your own cause. If find it extremely unlikely, for instance, that these signs were hung up to offend parents or in a pro-rape movement that is sweeping the nation. I find it more likely that the signs are for incoming female freshmen than they are to scare them away.

  • Rachel

    I read your blog with interest, then I saw the photos and REALLY understood what you are saying. Aggressive, disrespectful, predatorial, just nasty… I don’t think it is as full obvious on in the UK, but the same attitude is still there. Bizarrely, I think that may be worse.
    I hope to God my son doesn’t turn out like that.

  • Molly

    Well said.
    The mind set it so backwards. We need to be teaching everyone how not to rape.
    And it starts as kids. How to play and wrestle and stop if the other kid is not having fun. How to respect people.

  • Sharkgirl7

    Um, I nor my daughter’s are anyone’s property.

    You lost me from that point on.

  • Marie Mack

    As a SURVIVOR of multiple sexual assaults, all I can say to this is 2 things…


    it is not an easy thing for me to speak out against the culture that has made me the woman I am today…I am NOT a victim. I am a survivor. I do NOT curl up in a ball and cry, give in, give up, give over to this horrid culture of rape. I will not be defeated. I will not be an object for any man or woman to use or abuse at will. I will fight back.

    When I joined the military in ’97 I was posted on a base with all 4 branches…to be welcomed with the phrase “Basic Issue Airman”
    Female Airmen were viewed by the male Marines as PROPERTY. We were something they EXPECTED. They demanded that we left our blinds open, provided them with a show as we changed, slept, went about our daily lives in our dorm rooms. They would choose from amongst us and claim us. I was stunned. Shocked. Mortified. Claimed. Traded. Raped.
    It never occurred to me to go to the higher ups and turn them in. It was so wide spread that we didn’t feel it would do any good. We felt that it must be sanctioned…how could it not be. EVERYONE knew. How could it not be approved all the way up through the ranks?!?! Who could you tell? Who could you trust? I was traded and became the property of men 4, 5 ranks above me.
    I was 18. It only occurred to me a decade later how wrong it really was.

    And no…this is not strictly a military thing.
    Walk into any bar.
    Walk into any mall.
    Walk out of your home.
    Open your blinds.
    Show your face…let them know that you are indeed a female…and the culture is there. It is real. It may not be as obvious and plain as then, but it is ALWAYS there.

    Who wears the ring during engagement to show that they are “taken”…the female
    Because the whole world needs to know she is someone’s property.
    It is an age old tradition ingrained into human culture.

    It needs to end

  • Sarah

    I think that this quote by Gavin DeBecker is apt.. “The solution to violence in America is the acceptance of reality”
    ― Gavin de Becker, The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence

    Addressing rape and other forms of violence needs to happen on several ones:
    -cultural norms and views about gender, sex, consent needs to a dealt with. The fact that the “nice” boy would stick around and want to be friends with guys who do this needs to be looked at. Why are people more worried about conforming then doing the right thing? Is it that we teach our kids to be obedient to “authority” be in parents or teachers. We don’t raise children to “question authority” so when the authority is immoral and rather disgusting they follow like sheep.
    -this study on the benefits of self-defense training shows its benefits. Along with education and addressing the social norms, we should empower women to take charge of their lives and not wait around for all men to get it. Yes, societal change is critical AND there will always be people who will want to harm others. What then? I want all girls and women to know they ARE powerful. They are not helpless. They are strong and capable of looking out for themselves.

    It is never a person’s fault for being assaulted. Never. And let us tackle this on many levels. Violence is a part of this world. Let us work to end it but also be realistic. Rape, assault, murder are not ending tomorrow.

    And the reality is that there is not true justice. The system will be flawed. Horrible people go free, and innocent people get locked up. Just all one big crap shoot.