Letter to the Editor: Gendered Violence

Witnessing the ignorance of sexual violence

On Wednesday, September 9th, I was walking on campus close to the Science Building just behind a group of young men. One of those young men was carrying a six-pack of beer. I walked closely behind this group for about three or four minutes. I overheard their conversation about “slaying a 2000” or “sleighing a 2000.”

It became quickly apparent that these young men were talking about having sex with a 15-year old. They were discussing sexual violence, or rape, against a minor.

The word “slaying” means killing. The word “sleighing” implies riding some inanimate object. I am not sure which of these metaphors they were using. This metaphor was completely foreign to me. As I lamented throughout the day and night about what I had heard, I increasingly wondered whether I was a bystander by not doing and saying something; hence, this letter. I also wondered about the young men in that group who said nothing during the deeply disturbing conversation.

Universities across Canada and the world are taking a strong stand against sexual violence on campuses. If you call rape something else, like slaying or sleighing, it is still a sexual assault. It is remarkable to me that at least some of these young men did not appear to know that sex with a minor is rape. It is remarkable they talked about it so flippantly.

This brief incident on my university campus has highlighted to me that, as a professor, I need to be doing more to advocate for safer university campuses. I need to also be talking about these issues in my classes too. My colleagues need to be doing the same in their classes.

Sleighing or slaying someone can be seen as rape or sexual violence against another individual. It’s not okay. Sleighing or slaying a minor is rape. Calling rape something else doesn’t change what it is and doesn’t make it okay.

To learn more about Sexual Violence education, training and policies at Wilfrid Laurier University go to https://legacy.wlu.ca/page.php?grp_id=2297&p=27296. Don’t be a bystander.

–Donna Kotsopoulos, professor

*Article changed from original to correct author’s title

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