Boldly Taking on Fraternity Rape Culture: Cabri Chamberlin is FEARLESS

Note: Originally written for The Beauty Bean. Republished with permission.


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There’s bold, and then there’s Cabri Chamberlin. If you aren’t familiar with her name, you should file it under your brain’s index of “fearless.” She epitomizes the very meaning of the word and is setting an example for sexual assault victims everywhere.

Cabri is a Wesleyan University student who was raped in front of a crowd of onlookers at a campus frat party. Now, she’s suing the fraternity (Psi Upsilon), 11 of its members and the alleged rapist. What’s more, she’s using her name in the press.  She explains:

“I’m proceeding in this case with my real name instead of ‘Jane Doe’ because as the victim of a heinous violent crime I’ve done nothing wrong and have nothing to be ashamed of,” Chamberlin said in a statement provided by her lawyer. “I can’t even describe the pain of being raped, or how much it alters a life, and no other person should ever be forced to have that experience. I hope my experience and lawsuit will create changes that protect others.”

Hashtag badass.

As a rape victim myself, I understand all to well the feelings of shame, anguish and blame survivors experience. And these emotions aren’t just a product of trauma, but of a culture that inexplicably indulges in victim-blaming and rape apologist attitudes. Rape, it seems, is the only crime in which victims are put on trial.

With her simple statement that she’s done nothing wrong and has nothing to be ashamed of, Cabri has powerfully reclaimed control – not just from her rapist, but also rape culture.

Rape culture is everywhere you look, but it is particularly prevalent on college campuses. It is an epidemic, in which alcohol is used to excuse rapists but vilify victims, and “rape guides” circulate on campus. College rape is so widespread that President Obama has created a Task Force to address and combat it.

It’s my hope that Cabri and others like her – including the Dartmouth and University of Chicago communities, which are likewise demanding sexual assault reform – are signaling a shift in the mainstream acceptance of victim-blaming and rape culture.

Reporting a sexual assault is difficult and so very brave. But to come out swinging with your game face on – in public!? That’s amazing.

Categories: Violence

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10 replies

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  6. On the popular slogan depicted in the photo:

    It is obvious that society teaches both: “Do not rape!”, and “Don’t get raped!”.

    It is not an either/or proposition. There is no need for it to be.
    If the *real* goal is to lower incidences of rape, both should be taught and emphasized.

    • this.
      I’ve said it before (although elsewhere), I’ll say it again – “don’t rape” is ideal, but however enlightened the culture, however well law enforcement handles it, there are still probably going to be some instances of it, so defensive measures are still called for. This goes for any crime.
      Also, this might be a case of bystander effect as well as rape culture in frat houses.

    • I think you may have missed the point. We are saying to teach, “Don’t rape” because that is a controllable action. A person can choose not to rape. On the other hand, when we teach, “Don’t get raped,” we are teaching that we need to be able to control the actions of others. By using this type of language, we are propagating victim blaming in which the way a person dresses or the time of day a person is out somehow make it their fault that another person raped them. It takes the blame off of the rapist, somehow saying it isn’t their fault that they are a rapist because the other person acted in a way that caused their own rape. This. Is why we need to teach “Don’t rape,” as opposed to “Don’t get raped.”


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