In TV segment, Dale Hansen says it’s time to “stand with” victims of sexual assault
You don’t often look at a white, male sportscaster in his late 60’s and think, “I bet that’s a man who’s progressive about social issues.” But Dallas’s Dale Hansen has proven that wrong yet again in his most recent Unplugged segment where he talks about our need to stop shaming and start supporting rape victims.
A federal lawsuit was filed recently against Baylor University by “Jane Doe,” who alleges that she was gang-raped by a group of four to eight of the university’s football players as part of a “bonding experience” for the teammates in 2012. She also alleges that Baylor was “deliberately indifferent” to her claims, and misled her family into not pursuing the case outside of the university.
This follows a lawsuit filed in January by “Elizabeth Doe” who claims that not only was she raped by members of the team, but that 31 players committed at least 52 acts of sexual assault against other women between 2011 and 2014 — a number reached as the result of an investigation by lawyers.
Both suits claim that rape is not just overlooked but encouraged within the football program at Baylor, and that sex with female students was often advertised by coaches and other players as a reason for recruits to enter the program.
Sadly, though unsurprisingly, there has been a lot of blowback directed at the victims. As recently as December, former Baylor president Ken Starr said, “I personally have doubts there were gang rapes.” This despite the fact that he was fired as a result of the rape scandal in August, and that school regents have shared that there were 17 reported allegations of rape by 19 football players between 2011 and 2016 (Starr became president in 2010).
Most of the criticism aimed at the victims (and let’s take that phrase in for a second) concerns the number of years between when the alleged crimes were committed and when the women chose to report them. There’s a belief among some people that unless a woman reports that she was raped right away, then she must be making it up in an attempt to get either money or some of that sweet “I was humiliated and gang-raped” fame that all women are crazy for.
It’s this variety of victim-shaming that Dale Hansen talked about last night in his TV segment. He also shared that he knows personally that not all women want to report their rapes because his own daughter was raped 25 years ago when she was a student at North Texas University.
“Unfortunately, I know they don’t [want to report rapes],” he says, “My daughter was raped when she was a student at North Texas. She didn’t want to report it then, but she did, and doesn’t like to talk about it now some 25 years later but she is because she wants people to know how horribly she was treated. We ask what they were wearing, had they been drinking, why were they there and why did they hang around those guys, as if it’s their fault. And as if rape had anything to do with sex and even less with sex appeal. And you wonder why women are reluctant to come forward.” In fact, only 20% of female victims between the ages of 18 and 24 report their rapes to law enforcement, and we can only imagine how minuscule that percentage is for male victims.
Rape continues to be a crime in which the victims are treated with suspicion and the perpetrators given an inordinate amount of leeway. College women who report their rapes are still interrogated about their choices and motives, while the men who assault them are dismissed as having been too drunk or too horny. Hansen pinpoints this disparity in his segment as well saying: “[Rape] is a violent act of domination. It’s not the act of a young man whose hormones are out of control. It’s the act of a man who wants to show how much control he has.”
And boom. Goes. The Dyno. Mite.
“There is no shame in being a victim,” he continues, “the real shame should be directed at those of you who don’t think it can be true if the woman doesn’t report the crime on your time schedule.”
And then. He threw in. The grenade.
Some people think that there’s a certain way people are supposed to behave when they are victims of a crime. That’s bullshit. Unless you’ve experienced the powerlessness, degradation, and horror of rape, you have no idea how you’d respond. And until we, as Hansen says, “stand with them,” and prove that they “have nothing to be ashamed about anymore,” we should go ahead and shut our yappers about why victims don’t report their rapes. Frankly, we should be in awe of and deeply grateful for anyone who does.