Notre Dame football team

Boycott Notre Dame v. Alabama

Young girl holding a sign that says I am more important than football

From a protest of another recent rape case in Steubenville, but the sentiment holds

Tonight, the University of Notre Dame’s football team will play Alabama’s in Miami. I don’t know anything about sports (other than girls’ high school cross country, it’s a vicious world) but I get why a clash between the two top ranked college programs in the country would be a big deal. But I’m still confused why we care more about the game than the many women who found rape and administrative cover-up at Notre Dame.

Dave Zirin has a strong piece at The Nation on why the response to Penn State and Notre Dame’s cruel responses to sexual violence on campus have been so different. He writes:

As unbeaten Notre Dame prepares to play in tonight’s national championship game against Alabama, the sports media has chosen not to discuss the fact that this football team has two players on its roster suspected of sexual assault and rape; two players whose crimes have been ignored; two players whose accusers felt harassed and intimidated; two players whose presence on the field Monday night should be seen as a national disgrace.

The main reason this is taking place is because their accusers are not pressing charges. One cannot, because she is dead. 19-year-old Lizzy Seeberg, a student at neighboring St. Mary’s College, took her own life after her claims of being assaulted in a dorm room were met with threats and indifference. The other accuser, despite description of a brutal rape, won’t file charges “absolutely 100%” because of what Seeberg experienced.

…But the cone of silence that surrounds a company college football town is not enough to understand why Penn State’s rape scandal was front-page news the second the Sandusky scandal went public and Notre Dame has been largely protected by the press. The only answer that makes sense is that raping women has become “normalized” in our culture while raping little boys has not.

The masses of fans across the country rooting on the Notre Dame team place a disconcertingly similar burden on the victims and allies at the school as was placed on cheerleader Seeberg: celebrate your team or lose your community. This celebration is doubly devastating as a statement of support for these particular alleged rapists and a general acceptance of the status quo, the normalized epidemic of college rape that extends well beyond the Notre Dame campus, that we simply cannot tolerate for the sake of a good game. Keep the TV off tonight, and maybe spend those hours figuring out how we can support college survivors rather than the administrations that silence them.

Notre Dame football team

 

New Haven, CT

Alexandra Brodsky is an editor at Feministing.com, student at Yale Law School, and founding co-director of Know Your IX, a national legal education campaign against campus gender-based violence. Alexandra has written for publications including the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Guardian, and the Nation, and she has spoken about violence against women and reproductive justice on MSNBC, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, FOX, and NPR. Through Know Your IX, she has organized with students across the country to build campuses free from discrimination and violence, developed federal policy on Title IX enforcement, and has testified at the Senate. At Yale Law, Alexandra focuses on antidiscrimination law and is a member of the Veterans Legal Services Clinic. Alexandra is committed to developing and strengthening responses to gender-based violence outside the criminal justice system through writing, organizing, and the law. Keep an eye out for The Feminist Utopia Project, co-edited by Alexandra and forthcoming from the Feminist Press (2015).

Alexandra Brodsky is an editor at Feministing.com, student at Yale Law School, and founding co-director of Know Your IX.

Read more about Alexandra

Join the Conversation

  • http://feministing.com/members/dandelions/ Dani

    Compelling. The Notre Dame/Penn State comparison is especially shocking– showing that society really does know that crimes of violence and power against boys are wrong, but somehow raping women has become ordinary, expected, and unpunishable. We aren’t accepting of rape culture overall… just rape [of women and girls] culture. This is so devaluing and sexist at its core, it makes me sick, and I’m terrified for other girls who are headed back to college campuses this semester/quarter and might not receive recognition or justice from their administrations if something like this were to happen. Kudos to those who have spoken out for giving others strength, thank you to the few collegiate administrations who have taken this crime seriously, and apologies to all the those who were threatened, told that they had given consent, or told to be quiet about what had happened. You deserve better.

    • http://feministing.com/members/detwing005/ Elizabeth

      This is my first post, I hope I am properly abiding by the comment policy. If not, please tell me where I went wrong so that I can fix my mistakes going forward.

      First off, I’d like to point out that the University of Texas sent Case McCoy and Jordan Hicks home before their bowl game because they were accused of committing sexual assault. I’ll be surprised if they aren’t punished very severely upon the conclusion of San Antonio police’s investigation. Let’s not pretend that football players can commit sexual assault without consequences. I understand that it might seem sometimes that individuals are granted immunity from the law simply because they are college/professional athletes, but this not the case.

      That said, I do agree that this situation at Notre Dame is disgusting. Furthermore, I think that it’s important to increase protections on college campuses across the country for victims of sexual assault, and to fight harder to ensure that both men and women (that’s right, men AND women) learn that it’s not okay to force themselves upon other men, women, boys, or girls. I have had difficulty arguing this point among my peers, however, as it’s very easy for many people to write the argument made in this article off as sexist, which is VERY frustrating to me (any suggestions regarding how to respond to this counter-argument are greatly appreciated). We need to make it clear that protection against sexual assault is a basic human right, and that gender should not matter.

      My argument deteriorated a bit toward the end, and I apologize for that. I’m not the world’s greatest writer. I welcome any and all criticisms.

      Peace & love :)

      • http://feministing.com/members/andejoh/ John

        This is a very well balanced post. I don’t think it’s beginners luck. It comes from questioning our own beliefs and is something I personally struggle with.

        “it’s very easy for many people to write the argument made in this article off as sexist, which is VERY frustrating to me”

        The first question to ask yourself is is it. Sometimes I’ll point something out that dismisses, minimizes, or actually makes light of male suffering. Many people will then rush to the author’s defense and try to justify the words. People tend to hold our opponents to the standard of perfection. They make an error when they try to meet that standard instead of acknowledging their humanity. It’s not the crime. Everyone makes mistakes or can phrase something incorrectly. It’s the cover up.

        I’ve spoken with many feminists. I hear the complaint that MRAs are using a red herring when they bring up cases of women raping men. The problem isn’t that the argument is brought up. It’s that feminists then feel they have to defend it. So they say it’s bad, but it’s really not that bad because. That is rape apology no matter how one tries to justify it. Once your opponent can paint you personally as a hypocrite, they feel that they have invalidated your argument.

        The best advice I could give is if you want to know how to handle it. Read your post. You acknowledge weaknesses in the article and make your point in a gender neutral manner.

        “and to fight harder to ensure that both men and women (that’s right, men AND women) learn that it’s not okay to force themselves upon other men, women, boys, or girls.”

        Is it important to defend the article or the concept? I look forward to reading more from you.

  • http://feministing.com/members/andejoh/ John

    “The only answer that makes sense is that raping women has become “normalized” in our culture while raping little boys has not.”

    Wrong, that’s the only thing that makes sense to someone who wants to advocate a specific political position. It’s sad and disgusting that someone would utilize the pain of others to attempt to score political points in a perceived gender war. Most people would rightfully believe that a 19 year old woman would have more agency than a 10 year old boy. Most people would believe that a woman who had the support of her family and opportunities sufficient to go to Notre Dame would have more agency, be less vulnerable, than an abused boy. Only the extremely deluded or misandric would take the position that a popular, educated, advantaged, adult, female would need to be protected as much as an abused boy.

    As far as I know (correct me if I’m wrong), but each athlete has been accused one time. Sandusky had multiple accusers. There was an eye witness in the Sandusky case who was neither the victim or accused. There is also no question about consent as an adult having sex with a child is always rape. There is no question.

    The recrimination that these women suffered from their “community” at Notre Dame is horrendous, but that is distinct from people giving the athletes the assumption of innocence.