By Albert Nall, Staff Writer for The Current
“Five percent of college women are raped annually, and alcohol and drugs are involved,” read a poster promoting Tim Collins’ one-man show about rape and sexual violence. Collins performed his show, “The Script,” in the SGA Chambers at the University of Missouri – St. Louis on September 20. The event was sponsored by the Gender Studies Program, the Office of Student Life, PRIZM and the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice.
To raise awareness of the need for violence prevention, Collins performed a monologue about five young people named Jeremy, Jake, Nick, Chris and Stephanie. Each character makes his or her own own choices in regards to an incident where Stephanie is raped by one of the men. Collins said that he wrote the play because every woman has a story to tell about encounters with violence.
This is Collins’ third appearance at UMSL, and he has been writing and performing his monologues on university campuses since 2000.
“I want to speak directly to young men, because sexual violence involves all women that we know and not just a select group,” Collins said. “While it is true that all men are not rapists, men often communicate by scripts that project a violent attitude towards women in general, and this sends the message that rape and violence against women is okay.”
During the performance, Collins engaged the audience, even glaring at audience members at certain points as if daring them to respond to the themes of the story.
One of the characters, the victim’s ex-boyfriend, is so consumed with anger over his ex-girlfriend’s rape that he ultimately assaults the rapist and is prosecuted for it.
Another character, who has an obsession with Internet porn, is blase and bemused about sexual violence in general. His attitude is that Internet porn “teaches guys about women and what they really are like.” Furthermore, this character projects the idea that certain women (“nice people,” like mothers and public figures) are immune to rape and sexual violence, while women who are perceived as having bad reputations are said to have led the rapist on and thus “deserved” what they got.
One character does research on rape and sexual violence and is the one who brings the audience to the realization that “men communicate like rapists by the choice of their words. This message that “men must decide not to be rapists, not only in deeds and behavior, but in words as well” is clear by the end of Collins’ monologue.
After the performance, Collins addressed the audience alongside Sergeant Dan Contarini, Campus Safety Coordinator, UMSL Police. The allegation of rape or sexual assault on campus is viewed as a civil rights issue in reference to Title IX. According to Contarini, sanctions can often be taken against perpetrators in matters of sexual crimes on campus. These sanctions include restraining orders and housing reassignments.
The UMSL Police Department is doing what it can to impact attitudes and improve campus policy in regards to sexual assault. For instance, campus police are acting on behalf of victims by hiring three female police officers. These officers in particular can act as resources for women who may not be comfortable talking to male officers.
“The important thing in securing a prosecution and conviction of a suspect is getting the victim’s help,” Contarini said. “Rape and sexual assault are a form of domination and humiliation by the man against the woman that is similar to domestic violence – and not just a sex crime.”
For more information about how you can get involved in rape and sexual assault prevention, contact the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) at http://www.rainn.org/. For information on Tim Collins, visit his website at http://timcollinsonline.com.