By Contributor on January 28, 2014

by Starita Smith

The White House should be applauded for putting a spotlight on campus rapes. On Jan. 22, the White House released “A Renewed Call to Action” on the issues of rape and sexual assault, and President Obama signed a memorandum establishing a White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. As the report noted, campus sexual assault is a particular problem. Here’s one jarring statistic from the report: “1 in 5 women has been sexually assaulted while she’s in college.” The report notes that “the dynamics of college life appear to fuel the problem, as many victims are abused while they’re drunk, under the influence of drugs, passed out or otherwise incapacitated. Most college victims are assaulted by someone they know.” Many college men appear to feel no compunction about rape: 35 percent of college men admitted in previous studies that they would rape someone if they knew they could get away with it. In newer studies, 7 percent of college men said they had raped someone, and 63 percent of those men said they had committed an average of six rapes apiece. At Yale, the University of North Carolina, Dartmouth College, the University of California at Berkeley and other colleges across the nation, students have been filing complaints about how these institutions mishandled their reports that they had been raped and/or sexually harassed. In his memorandum, Obama acknowledged that many colleges and universities are not abiding by federal laws requiring them to have programs aimed at preventing rapes on campus and to provide students with information about these programs. Colleges and universities are also required to establish procedures for the reporting and investigation of rapes and for preventing their recurrence. And they must offer rape victims information on how to access support services. “Compliance with these federal laws is uneven and, in too many cases, inadequate,” Obama wrote. Almost 22 million women and girls and 1.6 million men and boys in the United States have been raped sometime in their lifetimes. This is an epidemic, and that’s why the renewed initiative on the part of the Obama White House is badly needed. It includes multipronged efforts not only on campuses but in the military and among “vulnerable” populations such as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people, runaway youth, Native Americans, young undocumented people, the homeless and the incarcerated. We need to dispel the myths that perpetuate this rape epidemic. If a woman gets drunk, that doesn’t mean she can be raped. If a woman is dressed in a short skirt, tight jeans or a low-cut top, it is not OK to rape her and, no, she was not was asking for it. Education, as well as stepped up enforcement of laws against sexual assault, is sorely needed. We need to get this message out, loud and clear: Real men don’t rape. ------ Starita Smith, Ph.D., has been an award-winning journalist at the Gary Post-Tribune, the Columbus Dispatch and the Austin American-Statesman. She blogs at www.colorfulcommentary.org. She can be reached at pmproj@progressive.org. Copyright Starita Smith. Photo: "Woman being stalked by a criminal," via Shutterstock.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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