In the presentation, students were told to think of sex as having traffic lights. If you get the red light, then the slide suggests you go home and masturbate. That slide had a picture of Roo from Winnie the Pooh with the words “Rub One Out.” The caption below says, “Self-gratification can prevent sexual assault.”
Holy fuck, apparently my college revamped their freshman orientation to teach about how to not rape. I just, holy fuck pic.twitter.com/kp7iDnvLnD
— Peachum (@BunLordPeachum) August 24, 2017
Almost instantly, images of the slide were being shared on social media, causing both laughter and outrage.
“This solution of masturbation that the school presented is overly simplistic, and not helpful, and not accurate,” Annie E. Clark, the co-founder of End Rape on Campus, told The Cut. “Sexual violence is a targeted crime that people choose to commit, and to reduce it to something that can be solved by masturbating I think is highly uneducated and very misguided.”
RIT officials, though, say that they are trying to address students who are showing up with less sex education than before. Many did not even have sex education in high school and come from families that don’t want to talk about sex, and at 18 they are put in an adult situation with little supervision.
“If we are saying to sexually inexperienced young people, don’t rape someone it’s bad, and that is all we are saying, what are we telling them to do?” Darci Lane-Williams, director of the Center for Women and Gender, which helped develop the presentation, said. “We wanted to give students tools they could use when they left that program so that when they find themselves in a sexual situation that isn’t going where they want it to go that they have options, and [understand] their sexual satisfaction is their own responsibility.”
This, though, seems to be the crux of the problem that anti-rape advocates have with the slide: the message that rape is caused by sexual frustration. While rape has many causes, researchers believe that hostility towards women and an over-focus on personal gratification instead of connection are the predominant reasons. These reasons can be aggravated by alcohol consumption, low impulse control, and poor communication. Rapists have not been found to be particularly less able to have consensual sex than men in general.
And this is the message that at least one first year student at RIT took from the presentation. “I think there are probably other issues that could cause sexual assault, but I think [sexual frustration] is one of the main things, and that is why they chose to address it,” Christian, 18, said.
Another first year student said that she thought the slide made it seem like rape is a joke. “It made me very scared to say that I have experienced sexual assault,” she said. “Because now I get the impression that people on campus think it is a joke.”
It doesn’t help that other students have been making memes and apps that mocked the slide. “Someone even went so far to make a mobile app that has a button that when pressed says, ‘Roo.’ Everyone gets a great laugh out of it,” Nicholas, another first year student at RIT, said.
“I guess if we had to do it again we might use a different image,” Lane-Williams said. “But I don’t think we would use a different acronym.”