“The Hunting Ground”: Giving Voice to Campus Rape

Let’s stop the victim-blaming. Let’s stop the stigmatization of this issue. That would be huge. For me, my personal hope, what I would see as a good fix, is pushing for independent investigators on these campuses. That way it’s a cleaner system. Whatever the outcomes are, at least people feel they’re getting a fair shake. I know that helps people go through this trauma much more quickly. It’s not as compounding of the trauma, at least, if you feel like you have access to some kind of fair system. If that’s not in place, it’s not a good thing. Producer of The Hunting Ground, Amy Ziering (The Huffington Post)

In 2012 filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering took on military sexual violence (see my post on The Invisible War). Now in The Hunting Ground they confront a related topic, rape on college campuses. So far it’s in theaters in New York and L.A.; it will open wider later this month and eventually air on CNN.

An intro from Ben KenigsbergVariety:

Scored to an ironic use of ‘Pomp and Circumstance,’ the pic opens with homevideos of women receiving their college acceptance letters, with cries of ‘I got in!’ While this may seem like cheap cynicism, it sets up one of the major arguments of the film, which is that universities are selling a brand and have a financial incentive to downplay incidents of campus sexual assault. Citing studies from 2000 to the present that suggest that 16% to 20% of women are sexually assaulted, the film makes the case that colleges are breeding grounds — not an association they like. Harvard Law lecturer Diane L. Rosenfeld draws an analogy: If you were to advertise that a prospective student had an equivalent chance of being the victim of a drive-by shooting, their desire to pay tuition would diminish.

Watch the trailer:

More about the content from Lindsey Bahr, Associated Press:

Beyond the dizzying statistics and myriad talking heads, ranging from former campus police guards to clinical psychologists, the heart of the movie is rooted in the personal stories, whether it’s a father describing the rape of his daughter who committed suicide, or the assault victims themselves, some of whom are men.

Audiences see Annie Clark and Andrea Pino, both of whom were assaulted at the University of North Carolina, and subsequently ignored and belittled by their administrators, rally support around the country for their End Rape on Campus movement and filing a Title IX complaint against UNC.

About those telling their stories, Manohla Dargis, New York Times:

Ms. Pino and Ms. Clark are courageous, inspiring figures, and they, along with the other women and men who talk openly about their school histories and ordeals, are the reasons to see ‘The Hunting Ground.’ As Ms. Pino, Ms. Clark and the other interviewees share their lives on camera, their voices underscore that publicly talking about rape isn’t just an act of political radicalism, but also a way for survivors to reclaim their lives. By speaking out, they are asserting that they, rather than their assailants, are the narrators of their own stories, the agents of their destinies.

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