Why is UConn's Mascot a Rape Meme?

April 26, 2013
By

By Soraya L. Chemaly

Two days ago, Carolyn Luby, an undergraduate at University of Connecticut published a remarkable open letter to the school’s president Susan Herbst, in The Feminist Wire.  In the letter she made her case and argued persuasively that the school’s new mascot and branding should be reconsidered. The school had decided as part of this visual identity revamping to change its Husky Dog logo from the current mascot to a more “powerful and aggressive” looking logo. She was polite, deliberate, and thorough in her analysis and reasoning. So, of course, people are harassing her, belittling her, and violently threatening her with rape. Oh, and the campus police told her to “wear a hat.”

As part of this anti-feminist backlash targeting a female student daring to speak in defense of safety for women, the site Barstool Sports reposted her letter, which generated the predictably violent and misogynistic gender based comments. A second site was created just so people could make rape jokes against her.  On campus, people are harassing her and she is receiving hate mail.  Even Rush Limbaugh has weighed in to mock her, minimizing the real threat and actuality of violence against women and mumbled in his tired old Patriarchal patois about Feminazis and cartoon characters.  I will not link to anything he says or does because it is usually infused with a mean-spirited, dangerous ignorance and darkness, and I like information rooted in truth that sheds light and makes the world a better place.

You can read her letter, as well as a Change.org petition in support of her efforts.

Here is all you have to know to decide for yourself.

This is UConn’s new mascot:

timeline1

Below are popular rape memes that circulate on line and are commonly posted and shared:

image copy 2image copy 3image copyimage

 

 

 

 

 

 

What people don’t know kills women.

_____________________________________________________

SorayaChemalybw-150x150Soraya L. Chemaly writes about gender, feminism, and culture for The Huffington Post, Fem2.0, RHReality Check, BitchFlicks, The Good Men Project, and Alternet.  Her work focuses on pushing academic feminism into mainstream critiques of popular culture, through satirical humour and news analysis.  She is particularly interested in how systems of bias and oppression are transmitted to children through entertainment, media, and religious cultures. She holds a History degree from Georgetown University, where she founded that school’s first feminist undergraduate journal,  and studied post-grad at Radcliffe College.

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16 Responses to Why is UConn's Mascot a Rape Meme?

  1. GeorgeSands on April 26, 2013 at 7:31 pm

    We live in a country where we have to have sexual assault awareness month, domestic violence month,etc, and then we see stories like this and Steubenville, and have a military where 1 in 3 women are sexually assaulted, and we wonder why rape culture is so bad in this country.

    http://www.theusmarinesrape.com/FaceBook.html

  2. GeorgeSands on April 26, 2013 at 7:31 pm

    We live in a country where we have to have sexual assault awareness month, domestic violence month,etc, and then we see stories like this and Steubenville, and have a military where 1 in 3 women are sexually assaulted, and we wonder why rape culture is so bad in this country.

    http://www.theusmarinesrape.com/FaceBook.html

  3. GeorgeSands on April 26, 2013 at 7:31 pm

    We live in a country where we have to have sexual assault awareness month, domestic violence month,etc, and then we see stories like this and Steubenville, and have a military where 1 in 3 women are sexually assaulted, and we wonder why rape culture is so bad in this country.

    http://www.theusmarinesrape.com/FaceBook.html

  4. GeorgeSands on April 26, 2013 at 7:31 pm

    We live in a country where we have to have sexual assault awareness month, domestic violence month,etc, and then we see stories like this and Steubenville, and have a military where 1 in 3 women are sexually assaulted, and we wonder why rape culture is so bad in this country.

    http://www.theusmarinesrape.com/FaceBook.html

  5. Patrick on April 26, 2013 at 10:33 pm

    I’d like to point out that Insanity Wolf, as it is known isn’t exactly a rape mascot. Rape is just one of the subjects commonly used with the image, and it is more than likely the person who designed the mascot didn’t have this image macro in mind.

    http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/insanity-wolf/photos

    Having said that, the backlash to her letter is completely disproportionate, and unfair. It is also sadly unsurprising that instead of engaging with the issues she spoke about in the letter, they are busy drumming up hatred.

  6. Patrick on April 26, 2013 at 10:33 pm

    I’d like to point out that Insanity Wolf, as it is known isn’t exactly a rape mascot. Rape is just one of the subjects commonly used with the image, and it is more than likely the person who designed the mascot didn’t have this image macro in mind.

    http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/insanity-wolf/photos

    Having said that, the backlash to her letter is completely disproportionate, and unfair. It is also sadly unsurprising that instead of engaging with the issues she spoke about in the letter, they are busy drumming up hatred.

  7. Patrick on April 26, 2013 at 10:33 pm

    I’d like to point out that Insanity Wolf, as it is known isn’t exactly a rape mascot. Rape is just one of the subjects commonly used with the image, and it is more than likely the person who designed the mascot didn’t have this image macro in mind.

    http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/insanity-wolf/photos

    Having said that, the backlash to her letter is completely disproportionate, and unfair. It is also sadly unsurprising that instead of engaging with the issues she spoke about in the letter, they are busy drumming up hatred.

  8. Patrick on April 26, 2013 at 10:33 pm

    I’d like to point out that Insanity Wolf, as it is known isn’t exactly a rape mascot. Rape is just one of the subjects commonly used with the image, and it is more than likely the person who designed the mascot didn’t have this image macro in mind.

    http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/insanity-wolf/photos

    Having said that, the backlash to her letter is completely disproportionate, and unfair. It is also sadly unsurprising that instead of engaging with the issues she spoke about in the letter, they are busy drumming up hatred.

  9. Loren on April 28, 2013 at 8:31 pm

    This is a problem. When women are trying to defend their safety and people laugh in their faces, it makes me question if this is a society I really want to be living in. People get really insensitive when something like this is being said but fail to take into account the number of women who are raped and have to deal with this trauma. If they knew that their mother, grandmother, sister, or any other human being that they may care about has been a victim of this kind of violence, they would think twice about posting things with such disregard for another human’s safety. Violence against women, especially sexual assault is constantly in the media. Our culture is becoming desensitized to this event because it is prevalent in television shows, music, and movies. It’s sad to think about the fact that women are not seen as equally deserving of rights that males are just assumed to have. Men don’t have to worry about being assaulted when walking to their car after the sun has gone down, something that most women think about frequently. I agree with the statement from the first woman who responded. The fact that this has become such a problem that we have to have rape and sexual assault awareness month is completely ridiculous to me. We should be embarrassed as a society to disrespect our women in such a manner. Just the fact that someone would have the audacity to say “It’s not rape if you yell surprise” baffles me. Also the line “Like her??!! Rape her!!!” is sending the wrong idea to young men. It tells them that if they are interested in a woman, they can do as they please, and her consent is irrelevant. This idea of exerting ones dominance over a woman is a thought that needs to be removed not implanted in the minds of young men. Regardless of if it relates to UCONN or not, rape is not something to play with. It’s real and affects the lives of many people.

  10. Loren on April 28, 2013 at 8:31 pm

    This is a problem. When women are trying to defend their safety and people laugh in their faces, it makes me question if this is a society I really want to be living in. People get really insensitive when something like this is being said but fail to take into account the number of women who are raped and have to deal with this trauma. If they knew that their mother, grandmother, sister, or any other human being that they may care about has been a victim of this kind of violence, they would think twice about posting things with such disregard for another human’s safety. Violence against women, especially sexual assault is constantly in the media. Our culture is becoming desensitized to this event because it is prevalent in television shows, music, and movies. It’s sad to think about the fact that women are not seen as equally deserving of rights that males are just assumed to have. Men don’t have to worry about being assaulted when walking to their car after the sun has gone down, something that most women think about frequently. I agree with the statement from the first woman who responded. The fact that this has become such a problem that we have to have rape and sexual assault awareness month is completely ridiculous to me. We should be embarrassed as a society to disrespect our women in such a manner. Just the fact that someone would have the audacity to say “It’s not rape if you yell surprise” baffles me. Also the line “Like her??!! Rape her!!!” is sending the wrong idea to young men. It tells them that if they are interested in a woman, they can do as they please, and her consent is irrelevant. This idea of exerting ones dominance over a woman is a thought that needs to be removed not implanted in the minds of young men. Regardless of if it relates to UCONN or not, rape is not something to play with. It’s real and affects the lives of many people.

  11. Loren on April 28, 2013 at 8:31 pm

    This is a problem. When women are trying to defend their safety and people laugh in their faces, it makes me question if this is a society I really want to be living in. People get really insensitive when something like this is being said but fail to take into account the number of women who are raped and have to deal with this trauma. If they knew that their mother, grandmother, sister, or any other human being that they may care about has been a victim of this kind of violence, they would think twice about posting things with such disregard for another human’s safety. Violence against women, especially sexual assault is constantly in the media. Our culture is becoming desensitized to this event because it is prevalent in television shows, music, and movies. It’s sad to think about the fact that women are not seen as equally deserving of rights that males are just assumed to have. Men don’t have to worry about being assaulted when walking to their car after the sun has gone down, something that most women think about frequently. I agree with the statement from the first woman who responded. The fact that this has become such a problem that we have to have rape and sexual assault awareness month is completely ridiculous to me. We should be embarrassed as a society to disrespect our women in such a manner. Just the fact that someone would have the audacity to say “It’s not rape if you yell surprise” baffles me. Also the line “Like her??!! Rape her!!!” is sending the wrong idea to young men. It tells them that if they are interested in a woman, they can do as they please, and her consent is irrelevant. This idea of exerting ones dominance over a woman is a thought that needs to be removed not implanted in the minds of young men. Regardless of if it relates to UCONN or not, rape is not something to play with. It’s real and affects the lives of many people.

  12. Loren on April 28, 2013 at 8:31 pm

    This is a problem. When women are trying to defend their safety and people laugh in their faces, it makes me question if this is a society I really want to be living in. People get really insensitive when something like this is being said but fail to take into account the number of women who are raped and have to deal with this trauma. If they knew that their mother, grandmother, sister, or any other human being that they may care about has been a victim of this kind of violence, they would think twice about posting things with such disregard for another human’s safety. Violence against women, especially sexual assault is constantly in the media. Our culture is becoming desensitized to this event because it is prevalent in television shows, music, and movies. It’s sad to think about the fact that women are not seen as equally deserving of rights that males are just assumed to have. Men don’t have to worry about being assaulted when walking to their car after the sun has gone down, something that most women think about frequently. I agree with the statement from the first woman who responded. The fact that this has become such a problem that we have to have rape and sexual assault awareness month is completely ridiculous to me. We should be embarrassed as a society to disrespect our women in such a manner. Just the fact that someone would have the audacity to say “It’s not rape if you yell surprise” baffles me. Also the line “Like her??!! Rape her!!!” is sending the wrong idea to young men. It tells them that if they are interested in a woman, they can do as they please, and her consent is irrelevant. This idea of exerting ones dominance over a woman is a thought that needs to be removed not implanted in the minds of young men. Regardless of if it relates to UCONN or not, rape is not something to play with. It’s real and affects the lives of many people.

  13. smokey on April 30, 2013 at 8:09 am

    I read her letter & didn’t come to the conclusion that she was comparing or making the a parallel between the new mascot & a rape meme. I’m confused as to why the story is being reported this way.

  14. smokey on April 30, 2013 at 8:09 am

    I read her letter & didn’t come to the conclusion that she was comparing or making the a parallel between the new mascot & a rape meme. I’m confused as to why the story is being reported this way.

  15. smokey on April 30, 2013 at 8:09 am

    I read her letter & didn’t come to the conclusion that she was comparing or making the a parallel between the new mascot & a rape meme. I’m confused as to why the story is being reported this way.

  16. smokey on April 30, 2013 at 8:09 am

    I read her letter & didn’t come to the conclusion that she was comparing or making the a parallel between the new mascot & a rape meme. I’m confused as to why the story is being reported this way.

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