900 Penn women sign letter against those 'complicit in rape culture'
"Together we will not stand to be objectified, passive, or overlooked. We refuse to allow the legacy of rape culture to burden future students."
More than 900 members of sororities and coed fraternities at the University of Pennsylvania have responded toa crude party invitationemailed to freshmen women by signing a letter opposing the "rape culture" on campus and those "complicit" in it.
The letter, which can be read in its entirety here, condemns the emailed invitation as "blatantly [objectifying] women with sexist and implicit instructions to act and dress in a sexual way solely for male benefit."
The email, sent on Aug. 31 by unaffiliated, off-campus group OZ, invites girls, but not "teases," to a party called "Wild Wednesday." It urges female guests to "please wear something tight." Written in the form of a crude poem, the invitation claims it's only looking "for the fun ones."
Signed by 920 affiliated and non-affiliated sorority members, as well as women in coed fraternities at the school, the letter continues:
This incident is not isolated or unique to the organization that sent the email – it stems from an overarching culture on college campuses across the country which targets women and brands them as inferiors, or simply objects for the male gaze. Smaller scale and interpersonal incidents have become warning tales to new freshmen, shared between sorority members to brace themselves against past and unspoken incidents of rape, sexual violence, and sexual misconduct by men at Penn, disproportionately occurring in fraternities.
Citing studies, the letter says that fraternity men are three times more likely to commit acts of sexual violence than their non-affiliated counterparts, and women in sororities are 74 percent more likely to experience sexual assault than other college women.
"Together we will not stand to be objectified, passive, or overlooked. We refuse to allow the legacy of rape culture to burden future students," the letter ends.
Last Tuesday, fliers with the title "This is what rape culture looks like" superimposed over copies of the OZ invite popped up all over UPenn'scampus, and provided a phone number for victims of sexual assault to reach counselors at the Penn Women's Center.
The story quickly gained national attention, with outlets including The Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, Seventeen Magazineand USA Today covering the issue. Meanwhile, politicians and celebrities urged an end to the culture:
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf tweeted on Sept. 7, "Commend the @Penn students who stood up to campus rape culture. It’s on us to call out and end this behavior. -TW"
Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey also tweeted "Yes, this is what the rape culture looks like, thank you @penn students for standing up."
And actor Ashton Kutcher called the email sent by OZ "disgusting" in a Facebook post.