The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

On Kagin culture: Why ditching the dances would be a mistake

It’s been up in the air lately whether Kagin dances will remain in the same form at Macalester or not. I don’t know all the nuances of the conversation but I do know that the issue was brought up originally due to concerns that Kagins promote a culture of sexual assault. Kagins are known for the hook-ups. Within this culture there is palpable opportunity for hook-ups that lack enthusiastic consent and constitute sexual assault.

However, I have some issues with the suggestion of canceling Kagins. Let me be clear before I begin: I have no doubt that Kagins have created opportunities for perpetrators to commit sexual assault. At a Kagin this year, my friend was in a situation where consent was unclear and if my friends and I hadn’t intervened the situation could have become rape. While I agree that Kagins are dangerous places and that this must be considered before attending, I see cancelling Kagins as a step backward in the effort to terminate rape culture.

As I see it, canceling Kagins to stop rape from happening is similar to telling women not to go out at night because they are at risk of being assaulted. It is a slippery slope from here to “she was asking for it because of how she dressed,” or “she shouldn’t have been drinking.” This ‘solution’ seems to tell me that women shouldn’t let loose and drink and dance with friends. In taking away Kagins, they also take away my agency over what I do in life. It further ignores the underlying problem with rape: that women are taught not to be raped but men are not taught not to rape. This ‘solution’ subconsciously reinforces this idea. It is yet another band-aid which does not fix the bigger problem, rather lessening the blood flow for a short time.

Similarly, the categorization of Kagins as the major purveyor of sexual assault on campus and the idea that canceling them will decrease assaults overlooks the intricacies and variety within cases of sexual assault. No one sexual assault looks like another. This is yet another reason that the only method to end sexual assault is to change sexual education. Saying that sexual assault only, or mostly, happens at dark dances with strangers and alcohol takes away from the validation of other victims and survivors of other circumstances.

If the school wants to change the culture around Kagins they shouldn’t fix the problem this way. Yes, Kagins present a problem. Yes, something should change if a large number of sexual assaults on campus happen as a result of Kagins. However, does canceling Kagins really fix the problem or simply reinforce victim/survivor blaming, eventually leading to invalidation and self-blaming? By taking this away does it say that those who were assaulted as a result of the dances are to blame? Does it teach women that we mustn’t go dancing or let loose or make ourselves feel sexy because it is simply adding to the problem of sexual assault?

Sexual assault occurs because of the people who perpetrate it. Period. There is no other issue to be resolved in order to stop its occurrence but to stop those who perpetrate it. By taking away Kagins, the school is subliminally (maybe not intentionally) saying that the dances themselves are the cause of sexual assault on campus, not the assailants who attend them.

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