Early last month, I tweeted a completely innocuous message about being glad that my mother was with me when I fainted twice on the floor of CVS after getting a flu shot.
Hours later, I received a tweet from someone I didn’t know, @NovaClubNu, a guy or a group of guys seemingly from Villanova University (my alma mater).
What? Why was “this girl is easy to rape” the first thing that came to mind when I tweeted about fainting? Why did this guy think it was okay to make a joke about raping me, especially considering I didn’t know him?
I immediately took a screenshot and sent it to my girlfriends from high school. We went to an all-girls school in Flourtown, where an often-repeated tenet in classes and assemblies was: “On the education of women largely depends the future of society.” We headed to college knowing we were just as good as the boys.
In an effort to publicly shame NovaClubNu, my friends and I tweeted back at him (them?), calling him out for the offensive joke. One of my best friends even made a call to Villanova to complain about the Twitter account.
NovaClubNu deleted the tweet, wrote a half-hearted message to me saying that his friend had been on his computer and wrote it (really?), and then added a disclaimer to his profile about being a parody account and that “everything is a joke.”
Part of me felt guilty about calling NovaClubNu out. I mentally exaggerated the result of this Twitter battle. I wondered if he would be suspended. I wondered if I would somehow ruin this kid’s life all because of an idiotic tweet. I worried I was overreacting. I wanted to forget that it had happened.
But then I realized this was exactly the victim mentality; this is why victims don’t report rape. I don’t consider myself a victim because of this, but now I have a better understanding of why someone might not report an incident. It’s easier to forget about it, and it’s embarrassing to make the matter public.
My Twitter interaction doesn’t compare to the recent horrors from Steubenville, Ohio, to New Delhi that made headlines. But I looked through NovaClubNu’s tweets and learned this was not the first time he’d joked about rape.
And I realized something needed to be done about it. Why do we let people get away with this?
This kind of language, this perpetuation of rape culture normalizes violence against women. If it’s a snide remark in a hallway, an email, a tweet, a Facebook post, a YouTube video, or (God forbid) an actual physical act, this is a call for action. Stomp, yell, do whatever you have to. Don’t shy away and let people get away with this kind of offensive communication. A day after the Twitter battle, I got a message from the vice president of Sigma Nu, a frat at Villanova. He thanked me for calling out NovaClubNu. He said he had been trying to get the account deleted for months but ran into trouble over freedom of speech.
My high-school friend, who had called Villanova, also got a call back from the University, and the issue was forwarded to Public Safety. She and I both talked to a public safety deputy coordinator. To ’Nova’s credit, the matter was taken very seriously.
The fiasco is over, the account is now deleted, and good riddance.
Sucks, bro, that you picked on a feminist and a reporter.
Meghan Ross is a reporter for two weekly, Montgomery Media newspapers: The Souderton Independent and Perkasie News-Herald. When she’s not covering school board and township meetings, she’s trying to persuade her editor to let her write about drugs and guns.