On John Henry Hobart Day every fall, Dean Mapstone waxes poetic about the value in being a Statesman. In his idealistic world a Statesman is better than a normal man, he is an example of what a man should be, he is the epitome of a scholar and a gentleman. Hobart has an ideal Statesman, but too frequently we fail to live up to the ideal Statesman and exist merely as “statesmen,” who follow the despicable stereotype of the Ho-bro who buys into and encourages a rape culture and systems of oppression.
The headline article of the Martini’s most recent edition, “polarization” reminds us of the pervasive flaws in “statesman” culture. As “statesmen” continue to add to the rising number of sexual assaults and plague of sexual harassment on our campus, “statesmen” also continue to remain as passive bystanders.
The Martini piece openly blames the way women dress for cases of sexual assault and harassment. It does nothing to critique the way “statesmen” perpetrate sexual harassment and assault, rather it decides to blame the innocent victims of these “statesmen.”
The problem of sexual assault and harassment on our campus does not lie in those who experience it, instead it is the “statesmen” who continue to assault and harass and equally important the “statesmen” who stand idly by as their friends, brothers, and teammates perform these acts.
For every “statesman” who harasses and assaults there is another “statesman” watching his friend do this wrong. The bystander “statesman” may object to the actions of his friend, brother or teammate, but this “statesman” stands idly by and does nothing. This “statesman” is too much of a coward to call out a friend when he knows they are doing something wrong. This “statesman” is more interested in how people view his friends, fraternity, or team than they are in ending sexual violence on our campus.
To avoid fault, “statesmen” are more interested in blaming woman for being assaulted and harassed, than they are interested in blaming their “statesmen” peers. Under this logic it is not the fault of the “statesman” who rapes, it is not the fault of the “statesman” who sends an unsolicited dick pic, and it sure as hell is not the fault of the “statesman” who lets his friend, brother, or teammate continue the culture of sexual violence we have on this campus.
We need to make sexual assault and harassment an issue for the people who commit it and allow their friends, brothers, and teammates to commit it. Sexual misconduct is relegated by our society to be an issue for women, but we give a free pass to the people most capable of stopping it. Sexual misconduct is a men’s issue. The acts of men may affect women more, but that does not free us from liability. Men must, obviously, stop perpetrating it, but we must also stop giving a free pass to our friends, brothers, and teammates when we notice their actions.
I want to believe in Mapstone’s vision of a Statesman, and I believe the culture at Hobart can change to a point where men active in trying end sexual assault and harassment on our campus. However, that is not the campus we live on today. While sentiments are held by men where they hold women more responsible for being victims, than we hold our friends, brothers, and teammates for being rapists we will continue to fail to be true Statesmen.
“Statesmen” need to care less about how women act and dress, and care how they encourage sexual assault and harassment. “Statesmen” need to care about how they allow their friends, brothers, and teammates assault and harass women. Hobart men need to step up and fight to end the reign of sexual assault and harassment that “statesmen” are imposing on this campus. Frankly we do not need “statesmen” on this campus, we need to start at least having decent men.