A Thank-You to the Good Guys: How "The Bachelor" Got Me Thinking about College

Wednesday, January 30, 2019


You know by now that I'm a big fan of The Bachelor franchise of shows, & this week's episode did something the shows have never really done before: address sexual assault. One of the contestants, Caelynn Miller-Keyes, got emotional as she told the bachelor, Colton Underwood, about her rape. I was glad to see the show give Caelynn's story the time & seriousness is deserved, & like everyone else watching, I was absolutely devastated by her story.

It's a story that is horrifying, heartbreaking, & all too familiar: Caelynn & her friends we drugged & assaulted at a fraternity house, where she was raped on a couch while onlookers cheered for her abuser.

As I listened to Caelynn's story, I cried - not just for her & her friends but for the fact that this happens, period, to women the world over. And that it happens so often that it is no longer surprising, despite the fact that it is never any less horrifying.

In fact, it's become so unsurprising that I found myself thinking back with surprise about the fact that I was not sexually assaulted in college.

As a sorority girl at Ohio University, nearly all of my male friends were fraternity brothers. My sorority sisters & I spent tons of time at one fraternity house in particular, where one of the brothers was my friend's longtime boyfriend from high school. Soon, we were friends with nearly all of the brothers, & we went to lots of parties there, plus lots of just-hanging-out nights, both at the fraternity house & at the off-campus houses where some of the guys lived.

They were our friends - & they were also our protectors. When we got drunk or passed out or didn't totally remember the evening (note: I do not drink like this anymore), they let us sleep on couches or they slept on couches or kicked creepy dudes out of parties or walked us home. They took care of us - without taking advantage of us.

I remember one time, in particular, when a sketchy guy from one of my classes showed up at a party at the fraternity house, uninvited; he'd heard me tell someone else I'd be there. When I mentioned it to one of my sisters, she told one of the brothers, who very quickly asked the guy to leave - even though he barely knew me. He was polite but firm, just a, "Bro, you need to leave," kind of thing. And just like that, everything was OK again.

There was another time, when my little sister got too drunk at the frat house (ah, Greek life), & I knew I needed to get her home. I couldn't manage her myself & couldn't get a hold of our designated "sober sister," so the guys tracked down their sober brother, who picked up my little, buckled her into his car, & drove us both home. He helped me get her into her dorm room, then left - nothing but helpful & kind.

But every time I read or hear a story about college experiences like Caelynn's, I think: My friends & I were so lucky - but it so easily could've gone another way. And for so many women, it does.

I just keep asking myself: How did we know so many good men when so many are so not? I feel so thankful that they were good men, who took care of us rather than hurt us - but it turns my stomach to know that so many women haven't had that college experience. And how backwards is it that I feel surprised to have had such supportive, kind male friends? That should be the norm - but we all know it's not.

It's been nearly 15 years since my time at OU, & I don't know most of those guys anymore, even on Facebook - but I still think about them a lot. In an era of #metoo & #timesup, I wish I could thank them for the way they treated us, & especially for the way they didn't treat us. Because of them, I got to grow up trusting men - & that's a right that so many women are simply not afforded.

Good men, rise up - & please know that your goodness is not going unnoticed. Thank you.

If you are struggling in the aftermath of a sexual assault, please know that you are not alone. Contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.

1 comment:

Katelin said...

Yes, to this.

I feel so fortunate that I knew so many good guys in college as well. And seriously, looking back, so much COULD have happened and I'm so grateful that it never did. It's ridiculous and horrible how many people can't say that.

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