There are some days where the news makes you want to bang your head on your keyboard. This is one of those days.
Today, there was a group of students down at the University of Texas keeping Austin weird as they handed out dildos, vibrators, and a barrage of other sex toys to protest campus carry. While organizers reportedly started the rally as a joke, the protest grew in popularity and had a large number of malleable young adults turning out to rally against one constitutional right while exercising another.
Pro-Second Amendment Group Students for Concealed Carry approved of the protest with their Texas State Director Brian Bensimon stating “If carrying a phallus to class helps you express yourself, go for it.” A University of Texas spokesperson also told the Austin American-Statesman "We are viewing this as a free speech issue. Students have a right to express themselves. This appears to be protected political speech."
Overall, the demonstration was laughable and just as absurd as the organizers had hoped. But between the overt sexualization of male body parts and phrases on signs certain to make any tuition-paying parent proud, a darker underscore of a real campus epidemic was hard to ignore.
The anti-gun crowds usually love to tout out violent crime victims as exactly who they seek to protect with their “sensible” legislative endeavors. But for those men and women who have found themselves suddenly victimized by a sexual assault or rape, self-empowerment and personal protection take on a whole new meaning. Seeing sexual threats on campus perhaps makes the case for why they need more protection than a rape whistle.
For those who have decided to educate themselves on campuses across the nation, we are made very familiar with these colleges promoting equality as a top priority. Fantastic in theory, but you need look no further than documentaries such as CNN’s “The Hunting Ground” or Jon Krakauer’s “Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town” to see victims of sexual violence are not afforded the equality they are entitled to as human beings.
One campus rape survivor, Amanda Collins spoke out against the equation of sex to self-defense displayed by the #CocksNotGlocks students. She was brutally raped by a stranger who went on to murder 19-year-old college student Brianna Denison in Reno, Nevada. Collins asked Wednesday “are these students more upset by me carrying a concealed weapon than they are by the rapist waiting in the parking garage?”. Her assailant James Biela, now sitting on death row in Nevada had attacked her at gun point on the gun-free Reno campus. Collins, a trained and legal concealed permit holder, was left defenseless just yards from the campus police department.
She further stated the protest was indicative of how our society equates rape to sex and why we all keep hearing about rapists serving little to no jail time. “To call the rally absurd is accurate. To call my human right to self-defense from rapists just like mine absurd is disgusting.”
Instead of demonizing their fellow classmates for lawfully carrying a firearm for protection as they further their education, their efforts may have been better applied if they campaigned for harsher penalties for classmates found to have committed sexually-based crimes. No, it wouldn’t have garnered near the headlines or media attention that waving dildos in the air did, but when 23.1% of females and 5.4% of male undergraduates experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation, I’d say the real epidemic is in the sexual victimization of your fellow students.
As the anti-gun students hoisted their adult toys today, I doubt many stopped to think about those passing them on their way to class, trying to avoid the phallic representation of the human weapon with which they may have been assaulted. For these students, the demonstration simply promoted a culture of rape, not one of empowerment.