Late Sunday night, Alex Knepper’s column “Dealing with AU’s anti-sex brigade” was released online. Despite The Eagle’s assertion that Women’s Initiative will “counter Alex Knepper with a column of [our] own,” WI will not use this space to take part in a debate that seeks only to divide the campus community and create controversy.
This column is not directed at Alex Knepper, but to The Eagle and to the AU community.
To the Eagle- It is irresponsible and shameful of you to use rape to generate readership. This is not a fun argument about an abstract concept between Alex Knepper and the crazy feminists. Real people, both women and men, hurt physically and emotionally because someone took control of their body without their permission. And real people hurt when their experiences are trivialized by the hate speech your organization chose to print. The Eagle owe sexual assault survivors and their friends and family, along with the rest of the AU community, an apology.
As students and as human beings, we have the right to attend a party without being sexually assaulted. We are entitled to wear what we choose to, to have a drink, or to move to a new space with an acquaintance without fearing for our security. We are the only ones who can decide with whom and when we will have sex—passionate and spontaneous consensual sex. If you don’t feel that you gave consent, you have the right to feel violated. You also have the right to talk to someone about what was done to you, even if you don’t want to report it to AU or the police or go to counseling. The DC Rape Crisis Center (http://www.dcrcc.org/) can help you explore different options so that you can decide which path will best help you heal.
I’m relieved to see that students and faculty alike are upset and angered by this column. However, I hope that we don’t allow our anger to grow into hate. Rather than allow The Eagle to divide us and waste our positive energy debating their columnist, let’s use our anger to build a safe and empowering community for men and women alike. I hope everyone will come out to Take Back the Night this year (Monday, April 12 at 7:30 p.m. in the Amphitheatre) to support survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. This is a powerful space where we can come together and demonstrate that these are things we care about eradicating from our home at AU. We can change our community from one of indifference to one of safety and love.
Director of Women’s Initiative
I found Alex Knepper’s editorial “Dealing with AU’s anti-sex brigade” to be not only inflammatory and uninformed but also incredibly insensitive considering that a date rape was recently reported by an AU student and well publicized by Public Safety. The date rape reportedly occurred under the very circumstances that Mr.Knepper touches on in the editorial; they are so similar, in fact, that I question whether the recent event was his inspiration for this tirade. If that is true, shame on the Eagle and Mr.Knepper for not having compassion for the victim who now has to read the now well publicized quote “To cry ‘date rape’ after you sober up the next morning and regret the incident is the equivalent of pulling a gun to someone’s head and then later claiming that you didn’t ever actually intend to pull the trigger.” This completely uncouth statement implies that the victim, whom the university goes to lengths to protect through informative programming, is, if not the criminal, deserving of equal blame for the event. That this attack on the victim is coming from the university’s own student-run newspaper is an embarrassment for the entire AU community. To expand the offense of this article to the community as a whole, this article communicates to students that if someone is to “drink five cups of jungle juice” and “walks back to a boy’s room”, then students are entitled to have sex with that person whether or not consent was expressed. I hope that the error of publishing this article will change the Eagle’s procedure when editing articles that could pose a danger to the AU community; editorial or not. If Mr.Knepper’s sentiments are shared by the fraternities of this university, and I sincerely hope that they are not, then I believe there is reason for the university to investigate into the situation. I may not share Mr.Knepper’s supposed “pro-sex” views but I do feel very strongly as a female student that attitudes like his are a serious threat to my safety and those of my peers.
To whom is may concern,
I think that Alex Knepper’s article is completely rude, ignorant and unnecessary. He implies that anyone who has been taken advantage of and raped is not a fault because you can’t expect people to “make sure it’s ok” before having sexual relations. I personally was extremely offended and I can only imagine how those people who are victims of sexual assault and rape feel. I personally consider this a hate speech and I think that the campus community would agree with me.
I hope you take action so that Knepper does not write extremely offensive articles like this again.
As a student in American University’s School of Communication, I would like to express my disappointment in the Eagle’s editorial staff members. Under the First Amendment, Alex Knepper certainly has the right to freely express his hateful and inflammatory views through a variety of mediums; however, the editorial page of our student-run newspaper is not one of them.
Despite the fact that Knepper’s column is labeled as an “editorial,” the Eagle staff still ought to uphold journalistic integrity within the opinion section of their publication. If Knepper had written a clear, thoughtful, well-researched article with a point, perhaps that would have deserved a place on the editorial page; however, it is clear that his most recent column falls far short of the standards for any good opinion piece. Knepper’s article lacks a central point, any kind of discernible structure, and substantiated evidence. The content meanders through an SG election controversy, “gay party” activism, a commentary on “passionate” sexuality, a criticism of feminist thought, and a call to invalidate the concept of date rape. Obviously, this article is nothing more than a forum for Knepper to broadcast his offensive opinions and incite controversy within the AU student body—it is in no way a true editorial, and the Eagle staff should know the difference.
Many of the Eagle staff members are currently studying in SOC, where I am sure you have learned something about journalistic standards and ethics. By choosing to run Alex Knepper’s column as an “editorial,” you have compromised the integrity of your publication. You are allowing hate to masquerade as journalism. If Alex Knepper is capable of writing an article that achieves the true standards of publishable material, then I will be happy to read about his opinions in the Eagle and choose to respectfully disagree with his point of view. Until then, however, the Eagle staff should be ashamed that he continues to get away with compromising the credibility of our student “newspaper.”
Jeremiah Headen rightly lost the vice presidency of the Student Government over an ignorant Facebook note. Its contents — an ode to hegemonic masculinity — slammed men for claiming their gender identity without fitting into a specific mold. It ended with an unnecessary, all-caps call to raid booty and women from neighboring villages.
The comments on The Eagle’s Web site, mostly by social justice activists and advocates, as well as involved and offended student voices, condemned Headen for being an “anti-queer misogynist” and for undermining American University’s commitment to being a “safe space” for the “gay community.” He was also rebuked for using the offensive term “hermaphrodite” as a substitute for “intersex.”
What a wonderful bunch of voices! I have never encountered a more progressive, open view of human sexuality than at this college. The willingness of these students to learn about safe and respectful sex here should be celebrated by social justice activists.
Contemporary gender theory, accepted and often revered by social scientists and academics, states that men and women are born autonomous, only to have gender identities imposed on them by socialization and cultural pressure. This is known as “social construction theory.”
Like the other great movements in history, the goal of contemporary feminism and queer activism is not to justify disrespectful acts, but to abolish them at the root. The idea that nonconsent and coercion make sexual exploration exciting has been revisited and revised by modern feminist scholars. Sex isn’t about individual desire, it is about mutuality, respect, and pleasure. It’s about excitement, exploration, and comfort. Feminism envisions a bedroom scene in which two confident, sexual beings ask each other for consent and ensure the mutual pleasure in an activity rather than risk violating and potentially scarring their partner or partners. Better yet: sex-positivity and the belief in consent extend to fetishism, sadomasochism, kink and cross-dressing. How risqué!
For my pro-sex views, I am variously called a misandrist, a feminazi, and — my personal favorite — a “bitch.”
Let’s get this straight: any person who heads to a party and drinks five cups of the jungle juice is unable to provide consent. To justify manipulating someone who is inebriated, taking advantage of someone with physical threats, date-rape drugs, and coercion, and/or disregarding someone’s ability to enjoy or consent to sex is the equivalent of pulling a gun to someone’s back and shooting it in the dark. When you fuck someone who cannot soberly and comprehensively inform you of their comfort in a sexual situation, you’re fucking alone.
“Date rape” is an important concept. Verbal and enthusiastic consent makes dating and sexual relationships easier to navigate without hurting someone else. It’s not clear enough to merely “assume” consent, because the lines of consent in sex — especially anonymous sex — can become very blurry. If that bothers you, then stick with Alex Knepper and his brigade of anti-feminist, pro-rape minions! According to Knepper, you should avoid sex at all costs until you are ready to be harassed, abused, and raped- and then ignored and laughed at.
Feminists have reconstructed our understanding of history, psychology, biology and sexuality. To make these truths speak louder and in more specific terms, I would like yo recommend my five favorite books about the power of consent, sex-positivity, and gender theory on improving our culture and our lives: “Yes Means Yes! Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape,” edited by Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti, “Cunt: A Declaration of Independence Expanded and Updated Second Edition,” by Inga Muscioand Ph.D. Betty Dodson, “He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut, and 49 Other Double Standards Every Woman Should Know,” also by Valenti, “Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of Sex,” by Judith Butler, and “I Never Called It Rape: The Ms. Report on Recognizing, Fighting, and Surviving Date and Acquaintance Rape,” by Robin Warshaw.
Put down the Ann Coulter and embrace the sexual freedom - and total, absolute, want for respect and safety — of feminism!
First, let me say how disgusted I am with the opinion piece published in the March 28 edition of The Eagle titled “Dealing with AU’s Anti-Sex Brigade.” I had no idea that this publication was in the business of excusing sexual violence, denigrating entire groups of people (feminists, LGBTQ community), or allowing an avowed bigot to spew his disrespectful views on the campus community. Columnist Alex Knepper either needs to resign at-once or be removed from the paper’s editorial staff.
I would like to add that even though I have not always agreed with Knepper’s views or opinions, I recognize that he has a right to his opinion and a right to spread that opinion through a published column. Normally I would not follow up on an opinion piece, but his latest rant was far more than I and many others could stomach. In his piece, Knepper wrote:
“‘Date rape’ is an incoherent concept. There’s rape and there’s not-rape, and we need a line of demarcation. It’s not clear enough to merely speak of consent, because the lines of consent in sex — especially anonymous sex — can become very blurry. If that bothers you, then stick with Pat Robertson and his brigade of anti-sex cavemen! Don’t jump into the sexual arena if you can’t handle the volatility of its practice!”
Anyone who has studied and analyzed patterns of domestic and sexual violence would know that this entire statement is devoid of any knowledge into the crime of rape. No means No, end of story. Consent is the “line of demarcation.” Furthermore, someone should not be afraid to be sexually active because of the possibility of rape - it is a horrific crime and is NEVER the victim’s fault. Date rape (defined as rape by a stranger in this case), according to the National Crime Victimization Survey, accounts for less than 2 percent of rapes reported. Most sexual violence is in fact perpetrated by someone close to the victim.
Before he publishes a column ever again, Knepper needs to educate himself on basic notions of privilege, power, and tact for that matter. That, and I didn’t even talk about his idea of “old-school masculinity.”
Even the title of the piece in question is misleading: I don’t know of many people on campus more sex-positive than AU’s feminists and LGBTQ community.
Class of 2010, SPA
I am writing to express my frustration and concern with the recent Alex Knepper column entitled “Dealing with AU’s anti-sex brigade.” The article, which attacked survivors of sexual violence and activists working to solve these societal problems and inequalities, was offensive and misinformed. Alex Knepper’s voice, though fueled by the pretense of “freedom of speech,” should not be allowed to extend to the realm of hate speech when he is being approved by an editorial board. Until he issues a personal apology to the campus community and is expelled from your staff, I will assume that The Eagle, as a publication, endorses his values and his ideas. regarding rape, sexual assault, sexism, and misogyny. As a concerned member of this campus community, I refuse to support a publication with those stated values and will encourage others to abandon the paper as well until this situation is remedied.
I am that feminist who does not only believe that men and women are equal, but that all people no matter how they are born, identify, or believe are equal.
I am that feminist who believes in free speech and expression but thinks there should be discretion when posting an article in a mainstream student publication harmful to victims of violence without any notification that it might be triggering.
I am that feminist who thinks everyone deserves all and any type of sex, but in a way where all adults involved are engaged, passionate, and consenting.
I am that feminist who respects criticism, but notices the trend of empowered, loud feminists and women being labeled as “crazy”.
I am that feminist who is aware of attacks, but reserves the right to peaceful, civil disobedience.
I am that feminist who respects structure, but insists that feminists stop asking and start demanding.
I am that feminist who values personal opinions, but demands respect for everyone’s body and the choices they make in regards to it.
I am that feminist who watches the threats escalate, but won’t be afraid to start a revolution.
I am that feminist who respects our progress, but won’t ignore the work that still exists.
Class of 2012
I understand free speech. I really do! As an activist I value it immensely. I am not at all saying that The Eagle does not have the right to publish Alex Knepper’s vile rape-apologist diatribes. I am merely saying that The Eagle is morally reprehensible for doing so.
As long as The Eagle gives a place for rape-apologists and prints opinions that mock the massive problem of date rape, I cannot, in good conscience, continue to support The Eagle. Therefore, I shall be encouraging my fellow AU community members to talk to those who advertise in your publication to inform them that as long as they support a publication that supports rape-apology and date rape, we shall not support them, and shall, in fact, be boycotting them.
Either your publication’s Victorian-style insistence that date rape is OK goes, or your revenue stream does.
After Alex Kneppers latest article “Dealing with AU’s anti-sex brigade”, many discussions of censorship have taken place in response to the loud calls for the dismissal of Alex Knepper. But instead of looking at what Alex Knepper is writing, we should be angry and arguing how the editors of The Eagle choices in articles poorly represent the student body and its choice to censor comments on its online forum.
To fire Alex based on his opinions, even his hate speech, would be more censorship. However, maybe Alex should be fired based on his lack of factual information and logical arguments in his articles. It’s poor journalism. His previous articles have no end goal and do not create dialogue but incite anger. His article on ROTC recognition on campus did little to encourage people to support our ROTC students but instead created a heated debate on feminism. He harms more causes, both conservative and progressive, than does good for them. There is room on this campus for all voices, but whose voice is he lifting up? He does little to understand the other sides of his arguments and when offered with counter arguments, he responds in unprofessional forums in an unprofessional manner. Bad journalism disgraces the university and leads me to question the leadership of The Eagle editors.
Alex Knepper’s articles have hate speech in them, but they are protected under law. If you call for action, take it upon yourself to lead a movement for accountable journalism on campus. The fact that Alex Knepper is published on an almost weekly basis reflects poorly on the student body that claims to be progressive and ready to protest injustice. If the readers want stop him from writing they are going to need a lot more action than petitions and letters. I challenge those outraged by poorly written articles like his to infiltrate a broken system and go out for The Eagle to write something that will invoke healthy dialogue on campus and make the campus proud of a currently disreputable paper. We have the School of Communication with majors that should encourage and produce plenty of talented writers competing for space in a newspaper. The best of the best should be writing, not a novelty act.
Class of 2012