NJ College To Female Students: Use Your Anti-Rape Face To Avoid Being Assaulted

Recently, a college in New Jersey has taken victim-blaming to an entirely new level – by telling its female students that to avoid being raped, they should try to only make “the right faces.”

Ramapo College gave an hour-long presentation about alcohol use and sexual assault – which unfortunately was mostly focused around how women could prevent being assaulted. The presentation, which was named “Haven – Understanding Sexual Assault,” was led by Ramapo’s Substance Abuse & Violence Prevention coordinator, Cory Rosenkranz. The presentation backfired tremendously and was a clear indicator that the school’s faculty needs to rethink how they educate their students.

Brandon Molina, a peer facilitator who listened to the presentation, said the talk started off fine as Rosenkranz gave general information about sexual assault. However, the presentation suddenly took a turn for the worst. Molina said:

“[Cory] started the presentation by talking about preventative measures…but then it became kind of peculiar, the extent she was taking it to. She was saying that women need to watch their body language and that women should practice how they articulate their face by practicing in the mirror.” [source]

Photo Credit: thisblogrules.com

Photo Credit: thisblogrules.com

Rosenkranz also warned females of other behaviors or factors in which they might accidentally “invite” an assault. In a write-up by student newspaper Ramapo News, students voiced their disgust with the presentation. It was reported that:

During the hour-long presentation, which also covered alcohol consumption and abuse, Rosenkranz said female students needed to be self aware about actions that could invite sexual assault. Those included, Rosenkranz said during the presentation, how women dress, how they interact socially, how much they drink and how their body language and facial expressions could be interpreted. [source]

Molina said:

“My thought the whole time was maybe women shouldn’t practice how long they’re blinking, men should just not rape people.”

News of Ramapo’s failed presentation has now been picked up by several media sources and attracted outrage much larger than the student body. In response, the college posted this unconvincing tweet:

Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 7.50.48 PM

Professor of Law and Society Paul Reck had not attended the presentation, but he sure heard about it from students. Reck was also very disappointed in the school’s message and said:

“Any efforts to address the issue of sexual violence on college campuses must start with interrogating and challenging the gender norms that legitimize and sustain such violence. If we focus on what it is that victims need to do in terms of their dress, their demeanor, it takes complete focus off of the real issue here, which is the behavior of various perpetrators and what it is they think they are entitled to. Males’ sexual assaults of females, both historically and today, occur regardless of what females do.” [source]

A recent sexual assault survey conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that almost half of assaulted victims never report the crime because they feel they are “at least partially at fault.” When victims are constantly given messages like the ones in Ramapo’s presentation, it’s easy to see how someone could blame themselves for a crime that was committed against them.

Unfortunately, the college missed a great opportunity to really educate students and make a difference on campus. Victim-blaming and holding women responsible for the behavior of potential rapists has never helped anyone.