The blue lights mark a new and systematic sense of danger. People may have always been scared walking around campuses late at night, but now, bathed in blue light, they are officially scared (Roiphe 8).
You’re probably thinking two things do we have these on our campus and shouldn’t we feel safer with the lights. I’ve noticed on campus poles in which there are blue buttons, you press on that and help will come to you if you’re in danger. You can also call campus to drive you at night if you feel uncomfortable walking and I would this does make me feel safer at JMU.
What Katie Roiphe is saying in this passage is that the blue lights are a symbol of a much larger problem that we may not recognize. Roiphe published The Morning After: Sex, Fear, and Feminism on Campus in 1993 and she spoke a lot about these blue lights, Take Back the Night, and gave an analysis of the way sexual assault was being handled in the late eighties and early nineties.
Roiphe claims that the blue lights served as more of a reminder of danger rather than actual protection, it further put women in this state of fear. When I first read this claim, I was taken aback by the statement and then realized that she made a good point. I think this symbolization of the blue lights still holds true today along with other points that are sprinkled through the narrative. Roiphe also discusses how in college you are given pamphlets on how to not get raped; Princeton and Wesleyan use to give out rape whistles.
This plays into the female’s responsibility for sexual assault which can further lead to victim blaming. This recollection made me think about the woman at UVA and how people were probably thinking, if she wouldn’t have gone up to the room, things could be different. Though I don’t see that many pamphlets about “how not to get raped,” that mentality is still presented in daily dialogues; it’s sickening.
Okay, so though Roiphe had some excellent points, there was one section of her book that didn’t sit right with my feminism and just me as a person.
If we are going to maintain an idea of rape, then we need to reserve it for instances of physical violence or the threat of physical violence (Roiphe 81).
After reading this, I was like hold up wait a minute; let me put my personal narrative in it. As a woman who has been sexually assaulted through verbal and emotional coercion, I instantly felt that my assault didn’t matter if we are looking at these standards. I don’t necessarily hold Roiphe at fault for this sentiment, I hold the times accountable. We have progressed so much as a society when it comes to talking about sexual assault, so presently I feel that I can share my story, back then I wouldn’t even share my story at Take Back the Night.
Roiphe mainly argues that if we think about rape and coercion, we give off this signal, “men are not just physically but intellectually and emotionally more powerful than women” (Roiphe 68). For me I think that it is imperative for people to know that coercion is an actuality and is sexual assault, when we dismiss it we are doing no justice to the women and men who suffer. Also the signal of the men being more powerful completely ignores same sex relationships and men who are assaulted by women, a problem we still face today.
My main solution is that I am asking Katie Roiphe to reexamine sexual assault on college campuses and provide a new insight for people of this generation. I would be very curious to see what new fears are before us.