Rape Chant Divulges Deeply Rooted Issues
Published: Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, September 11, 2013 16:09
Student leaders at Saint Mary University in Halifax recently faced a serious problem after a video of an offensive chant was posted online. Some of you might have seen this video already. Nevertheless, let me put it into context for those who have not seen it. SMU male and female students performed an offensive chant as a part of their orientation week activities, and according to the former Student Union President, the chant was performed since at least 2009. On this particular occasion, the chant was performed in front of about 300 first-year students. I do not want to recall this chant again, but it is important to know what these students said it in order to examine the underlying cultural and social problems.
The chant goes: “SMU boys, we like them young. Y is for your sister. O is for oh-so tight. U is for underage. N is for no consent. G is for grab that ass.” SMU student leaders were highly condemned after this incident drew serious attention of the media. Eventually the student union leader resigned and the university administrators had to answer to serious concerns of the people.
When I first saw the video of SMU students performing this chant, I was really disturbed and I’m sure many of you who saw it felt the same. But later on I realized that this was not just one special incident that happened somewhere else that was beyond our reach. Secondly, I felt that continuously blaming SMU student leaders or labeling them as “guilty” will not solve deeply rooted cultural and social practices throughout the world. What we saw in Halifax was just a manifestation of neutralization of a rape culture. Some would say they did not really mean “N for no consent,” or they did not mean the whole thing seriously. This may be true, but we can never say that they did not know what the chant really meant. The student leaders neutralized its meaning in front of newcomers by making it the dominant culture. I am certain there must have been students who were shocked by hearing this chant at the moment, but eventually they, too, had to accept and neutralize to the dominant culture, because that was what their leaders were doing. The cycle goes on and on, and one day the newcomers will be the culprits.
Rape is a serious problem throughout the world and the countries that are severely affected by rape have dominant cultures that neutralizes sexual assault and other related issues. The modern world that we are living in is interconnected and these cultural problems affect us all. By saying this I do not want to ask you to become political activists. But I do want you take action in some way. I do ask you to see the large picture and observe serious cultural problems other than looking at a person or an incident. I do want to create a discussion about this among your friends and in your classrooms.
After the incident at SMU, the student leaders were given sensitivity training. I do not think these students need to be taught how to be sensitive. They need to be taught how to identify what real leadership is. They need to be educated that true leadership is denying these kinds of practices and denaturalizing the cultural and social problems.
Samantha is a senior majoring in journalism.