Rape Culture Is Real No Matter What You Tweet

Some conservative columnists have conveniently forgotten that.

By Lena Melillo, Guest Contributor

Trigger Warning: Rape

On June 16th, Milo Yiannopolous tweeted, “If you’ve heard about a rape, it’s fake.”


This week, just a few months after composing this tweet, Milo Yiannopolous is slated to speak on campus at an event hosted by USC College Republicans.

On a campus where 30% of women and 7% of men have experienced non-consensual sexual contact*, it is imperative that we recognize and validate these experiences. Inviting someone to campus who says rape reports are false does the opposite. On a campus where at least 80% of survivors do not report non-consensual sexual conduct, “if you’ve heard about a rape, it’s fake” is not merely an offensive tweet — it is the very language that makes our campus unsafe. It is a call to doubt survivors. It is a refusal to hold offenders accountable. It is a reminder to survivors that they should be too scared or too ashamed to report their rapists. An endorsement of this rhetoric is simply unacceptable.

Now, USC College Republicans is allowed to invite any guest they find relevant to their community and to their mission. However, every student, regardless of ideology or political party, also has a duty to foster a safe and inclusive culture on campus.

As a feminist and self-proclaimed leftist, I know the College Republicans and we don’t agree on everything. We may not even agree on most things. But this is not about partisan politics. Providing resources for sexual assault survivors is not a liberal agenda and rape prevention shouldn’t be a single party issue.

I am not asking anyone to agree with my personal political views. What I am asking is that every student leader, no matter what organization they represent, carefully consider and recognize the impact of the people they invite to speak. I am asking that every student recognize that words matter — that endorsing Milo Yiannopolous’s words makes our campus less safe.

I sincerely hope that USC College Republicans continues to facilitate important conversations on this campus. After all, a vibrant and thriving democracy depends on conflicting opinions and diverse, intellectual discourse. But I refuse to welcome a person onto this campus who demeans and degrades survivors of sexual assault. I will not stand by silently as my peers’ safety and well-being is put at risk by violent and misogynistic rhetoric.

Guest Contributor Lena Melillo is the Assistant Director of the Women’s Student Assembly at the University of Southern California. Reach her here.

*All statistics mentioned are from the AAU Sexual Assault Campus Climate Survey that USC participated in last year.