The college rape scandal du jour concerns University of Michigan football player Brendan Gibbons, and it's a tale as old as time: Entitled athlete's female friend says he raped her at a party. She considers pressing charges but decides not to after being intimidated by his teammate and more or less ignored by her university. Everyone thinks she's a dumb drunk girl who was asking for it, because why would the big man on campus need to rape to get laid?
University officials and cops love to give women tips on how to avoid being raped, so we've annotated this quintessential story — you could replace the names and locations and apply it to so many other athlete rape (and non-jock rape) scenarios — to compile some tips for student athletes who need help not raping anyone. Print it out and put it in the locker room. Clear eyes, full hearts, don't rape!
According to the police report, Gibbons and the victim — we'll call her "Jane" — were both athletes who lived in the same dorm at the time of the 2009 incident. They first became "friends" when he threw a football at her and yelled "go fuck your boyfriend" and developed a friendship that consisted of him pretending to spit in her hair, amongst other "inappropriate" (and annoying) activities. But Jane considered him a close friend. She told police that she "likes spending time with people she thinks she can help."
Just because your friend puts up with and laughs at your infantile attempts at flirting doesn't mean you're entitled to have sex with her.
The night before the rape, Gibbons kissed Jane at a party while they were dancing and talking. She kissed him back for a few seconds before pushing him away and leaving — she had recently broken up with her boyfriend and was confused. She later told police that she thought Gibbons was forceful, but she had kissed him back so "it was my responsibility too."
If you kiss a girl and she seems kinda down but is clearly distraught and going through a tough time, offer to talk to her about it! Don't take her "mixed signals" as a sign that she wants to have sex with you ASAP; take her confusion as a sign that you should be extra careful about moving forward, as sex is supposed to be mutually satisfactory for both parties and her body doesn't exist for your pleasure alone.
Ask someone if they want to have sex with you for the first time; don't assume they do because you're a super special guy. If it seems like they're not 100% enthusiastic, TALK TO THEM.
Here's a breakdown of what happened from Washtenaw Watchdogs:
The night of the rape, the woman had gone to a party with some female friends, at the Chi Psi fraternity house. She had been served about 4 beers and a shot of alcohol. She stated that she had a lot to drink. She also noted that about 80% of the people at the party were freshman. Within two days of the incident, the Chi Psi fraternity national headquarters put the UM chapter on suspension and prohibited them from having alcohol at any of their social events.
She met Gibbons at the party and at one point was sitting with him on a couch. She needed to use a bathroom, which was located on the second floor of the fraternity. Gibbons walked with her to the second floor and followed her into the bathroom. She was wearing leggings under her dress, which Gibbons tried to pull down. She said no and left the bathroom. Gibbons followed and forced her into an open bedroom. He pushed her down on the bed, grabbing onto her arm to control her (note the documentation of bruises on her arm by the police). She told him “no” multiple times. He did not use a condom and semen was found on her dress.
After the rape, the woman left the Chi Psi house immediately. She called a friend who met her on the way back to her dorm. She was crying hysterically and she told her friend what had happened. She reported the incident to the resident advisor of her dorm, to a university housing security officer, campus police and to Ann Arbor police.
She was taken to University Hospital for a rape examination, which showed vaginal tearing.
Brendan Gibbons admitted to having sex with the young woman but claimed that it was consensual. “She never asked me to stop. We were both into it.” He stated that his whole life would be ruined, the girl always wins.
If you care about your sex partner's wellbeing — and you should always, always care, even if you're only interested in a physical relationship — ask yourself whether you're 100% sure that they want to have sex with you. No force should be necessary. Use your words! Listen to her words! Ask yourself whether she's in a good physical or mental state! This is not an excessive amount of caution; it's called being considerate. It's called not getting exactly what you want RIGHT THIS SECOND, even if that's what you're used to and what you prefer.
Don't want to deal? Think talking and empathizing is too hard? Buy a blow-up doll and stop having sex with humans.
Shortly after Jane reported the rape to police, she began to receive threats from Gibbons' roommate and fellow football player, Taylor Lewan, who texted her that he would rape her if she moved forward: "If she does [press charges] then I'm going to rape her because, he didn't."
Do not do this, or anything like this, okay?
After Gibbons kicked the winning field goal in the closing seconds of the 2011 Sugar Bowl, he told reporters that he always thinks about “brunette girls” when it's time to focus.
Women don't just exist to inspire your winning goals and make you feel like a man on and off the field.
Washtenaw Watchdogs, the blog that compiled this information, calls this a "coverup." It's not, because Jane never pressed charges. But that doesn't mean she wasn't raped; it's illustrative of how ill-equipped our justice system is to deal with sexual assault. Internet vigilantes and first-person survivor accounts have proven more powerful at changing the national consciousness than universities, cops and courts. This "lesson plan" is obviously tongue-in-cheek, but education is crucial: these stories need to be shared, and discussed, and turned into tools for teaching potential rapists — not potential rape survivors — how to change the narrative.
Image via Getty.