Rape Jokes Spark Outrage Over UW “Confessions” Facebook Page

Posted: Tuesday, April 30, 2013 -- 10:57 p.m.

It has more than 25,000 "likes” and hundreds of comments a day. The UW-Madison Confessions Facebook page is one of the most recent social media trend among students.

"You submit a confession anonymously through the website, which is external Facebook,” said David Hookstead. As the page administrator, he then decides what confessions get posted to the site. There's often embarrassing stories, some crude language and just random thoughts--typical talk for 18 to 22-year-olds. But it's the comments that follow the posts that sexual assault victims' advocates say cross the line.

"There have been extensive rape jokes, and then people counter that with, that is not funny,” said Aly Jarocki, the chair of the UW-Madison student group, Preventing Assault, Victim Empowerment. “Then they are personally attacked."

One post in particular triggered a heated debate about a month ago. It reads, "some hot chick sat next to me... swung her legs on me and covered us with a blanket... I'm safely going to assume you want a one-way ticket to pleasure town."

"I was the first one to comment, and say, just so you know, a girl putting her legs on you is not consent to have sex," said UW-Madison senior Danielle Kindle.

Kindle says she was made fun of and attacked for her response--some of the things that were said to her are too inappropriate to repeat. She says the posts were no longer about expressing freedom of speech but encouraging dangerous behavior.

"One in four women will experience completed or attempted sexual assault during their time in college,” Kindle said. “Comments like that can only make that worse."

Kindle says when she messaged the administrator and asked him to take down those comments, Hookstead blocked her. He says he doesn't remember doing it.

"If we've blocked anyone in the past, it's because they've crossed a line with us, or they're repeatedly attacking somebody else,” Hookstead said. “The comments section I've made pretty clear is for people to use as their own little debate table, or whatever forum they view it to be necessary. I'm not there to restrict their access unless they're using it in a criminal way.”

Kindle says she has been in touch with the dean's office, but she was told there's not much that can be done. UW-Madison Dean of Studens Lori Berquam told NBC 15 Tuesday that while the school certainly doesn't sanction the confessions page, it is an expression of free speech.

UW-Madison police say they are monitoring the page closely for any kind of evidence of criminal activity or harassment.


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