A history teacher at an Oregon high school took it upon himself to write a three-page paper dismissing rape culture as “dubious” and “hysterical.” As The Oregonian reports, the letter was subsequently circulated widely among students and staff at Grant High School.
“’Rape culture’ is a theoretical construct that is ill defined,” David Lickey wrote. “What exactly is ‘rape culture’? I don’t see it in my life or the lives of any of the men and women I have known. I have never met a person who believes rape is anything other than a heinous crime.”
Lickey also wrote that he finds “assertions of rape culture dubious,” and that “the very wording of ‘rape culture’” strikes him as “a bit hysterical.”
It’s hard to know where to start with the document, which contains numerous other fallacies. But here’s a start: rape culture is not ill-defined; it is far more complex than finding rape “heinous”; rape culture is deeply normalized and therefore we can unknowingly internalize it; just because one does not experience something personally does not mean it doesn’t exist.
It will likely come as little surprise to learn that the letter, which was posted on Facebook, has garnered considerable outrage in Grant High School and beyond. According to Mic, Lickey was spurred to write the letter in response to a discussion that occurred in another teacher’s English class.
“Lickey walked in to get documents from the photocopier, overheard a conversation he wasn’t part of and decided to offer his opinion,” the site explains. “Lacking the time to fully explain himself, he later elaborated on his position in writing. The students then used the paper as a counterpoint in their discussion of rape culture, and while Lickey’s email stressed that his opinions were not meant to be shared with the entire school, they were still distributed.”
Last week, Grant High School principal Carol Campbell sent a message to students’ families, saying that “[t]he perspective of the teacher does not reflect nor support our approach to educating students on sexual assault.”
“A strong contradictory argument should be accompanied by counter arguments from credible sources,” Campbell added.
“In this case, the document was shared with many students and staff with very little context. We apologize for any harm or negative impact.”
Read more at The Oregonian.