The Victim

Chapter Three: Ascent


The interview was indeed powerful. Our college came under siege from women’s rights protestors. The college administration building’s entrance has been occupied for days now, since the story broke. After us, many other girls claimed they had been sexually assaulted by teachers, but most of the allegations concerned male students. A wave of resignations cleansed the college’s administration: the rector, the heads of most faculties, the student’s council president and vice president, the head of the student body, and several other redundant bureaucrats were ousted from their jobs. Their replacements were much more sensitive to the issue of sexual harassment. Their first measure was creating a special commission with power to expel anyone suspected of sexual harrass, whether staff or student. After a week, they announced they had found another sixteen solid cases of sexual harassment.

I thought this would be a victory, but my friend from school felt differently. She went up in arms against the college. Right before a meeting with the commission, we organized an in-campus rally with students. “We don’t want some justice, we want justice, plain and simple,” she explains to more than one hundred and twenty-eight students. Instead of limiting herself to sexual harassment problems, she also attacks “rampant, unpunished discrimination on any grounds, whether gender, race, acquisition power, etc.” The large crowd applauds enthusiastically. Then we all leave to meet the commission in front of the main door. They come out in front of us and say “We are not currently pursuing any further inquiries into misdemeanor by faculty members.”

“So is this justice?” My friend asks the crowd. “No!” they reply. “Using a few scapegoats to cover the crimes of oh-so-many?” she again asks the crowd, which yells “No!” angrier this time. “What do we want!?” she shouts. “Justice!” they shout in response. “And when do we want it?” she continues, louder. “Now!” the crowd replies. “How can these entitled white men get away with these flagrant crimes? Do you think justice is blind here, or is she actually an old, white guy with perfect sight?” she asks to the delight of the crowd that applauds her. “So, what do we want, please tell the commission,” she says. “We want justice!” the crowd shouts again, striking the air with their fist to each word. “We want justice!” they start chanting.

We all feel part of something, something greater than ourselves. It feels right, righteous even. “Look, that professor said black people’s traditions are not relevant!” yells a man from the crowd. The professor is caught by surprise exiting his office. A large crowd swarms around him. “Is that true, did you really make those racist remarks?” asks a student. “Please, calm down. I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he tries to defend himself.

“The e-mail!” several voices scream at the same time. I look around, confused. I had no idea about this. I thought we were here about the commission. “Look, all I said in the-that e-mail—” “Racist s-word!” a woman interrupts him. “You have no idea, shut the f-word up!” defends the professor a student who was with him at his office. “… was that I don’t see why we should force white people to—” the professor tries to continue. “You are supporting white supremacy!” screams a white woman.

“You are ignoring history, black history. Are you denying there’s racism?” shouts the first female student who accused him. The professor tries to appease her with his hands. “Where, in this college, in the whole world?” he asks. “Here,” say a bunch of people from the crowd. “This college,” say others. “Well, I-I don’t think there’s racism in this college.” Cries of outrage fill the air. I can hardly distinguish what some say. “Shut the f-word up privileged moron!” some shout. “Your education is useless, you are useless!” yells a student who’s with the professor. The professor tries to calm him down. A girl starts crying.

“If, l-look, if you want to have a reasonable debate, let me know. Otherwise—” the professor says, trying to leave. “Look at him, he’s lost the argument so he runs away!” says someone from the crowd. “Racist professors’ got to go, hey hey, ho ho!” chants twice a girl. More start chanting along as the professor is chased out of the building. Finally he gets on a bus and leaves. My friend from school is speaking to some people from the crowd, giving them orders. When I come closer, she dismisses them. I look at my phone. The hostess has texted me saying she can’t make it to our private meeting (what a surprise,) but that a reporter will be where we met in an hour. “Look, I think I’m going to go now,” I say. “I think it went well.” She nods. “It was great, but this is really just the start,” she says, making my skin crawl. I think about asking her what her plans are, but I realize this way it’s more fun.

I leave for my meeting with this mystery reporter. She’s a pretty, young, clumsy girl. So pretty it makes me suspicious. She’s bait. After she introduces herself and tells me she only has sixteen minutes, she puts her recorder on the table and says hurriedly: “Ok, so. Uhm. How about we do a sort of article about like who this…” she starts shaping the air with her hands around me “young, emerging political figure is?” I blush, flattered. “Oh please, I’m not that big of a deal,” I say. She puts the recorder on play, making me uncomfortable. “So tell me, how do you feel about having been in the center of several ‘tragic events’ in the past few years? You and ‘the arsonist’ were beaten, which got national attention, then you were present when your bullies died…” she pauses for a moment looking through her notes. I know, I would get lost in so much crap that has happened to me too.

“… then you helped in the campaign for mayor of your fiance’s sister, who committed suicide just a few months after the elections. You were also very close to ‘the arsonist,’ who only just died a few months ago.” She pauses. “But that’s not all. I have looked up your past.” Now I’m truly uncomfortable, but try to stay calm. “You are the sole survivor of a white, abusive household where the mother caused the death of her four children. Tell me, how does it feel having been part of so many tragedies? Do you feel like you are a victim?” I sigh. “Well, I-I wouldn’t know where to start,” I start. “I mean I, I think I’ve had bad luck, and I’ve struggled with all sorts of problems all my life. But that happens to everyone, I guess. And it’s precisely how to, how you face the problems in your life what defines you.”

“Also, you’re part jewish, part black, is that correct?” she asks. I nod. “Please, for the tape,” she says, chuckling. I chuckle too, nervous. She graces my hand playfully. “Yes, yes.” “So tell me, has that affected you?” “I mean,” I say. “I think people today have come a long way regarding racial prejudice, but there’s still an even longer way to go. In fact, that’s why I joined tol.” She smiles, realizing I’ve dodged the question entirely. “Tell me more about tol,” she says. “What exactly did you do there?” “Oh, well,” I say. “I helped, I guess. I helped with the speeches and with management stuff. Nothing impressive, honestly.” “Now,” she says. “Regarding the interview you gave today about the sexual assault scandal. You had a near-rape incident in college when you started. What would you say to the many girls and women who have been through the same thing?”

“Do not keep quiet,” I say looking at her very seriously. “Stand up to bring them down.” She turns the recorder off. “Thank you for this,” she says. “Today I don’t really have time, but if later today you’d like to meet for drinks, or—” her hand caresses my groin. I feel a tingling sensation and the urge to take her. But I shake my head. “I’m sorry, I don’t really drink or go out. You know, because of my adoptive mother.” She takes her hands to her face in horror. “Oh my god, I’m so sorry. I’m such a moron. Please, let me invite you to dinner, no recorder.” I see where she’s going, and she’s gorgeous. But there’s nothing I can gain from her and she’s a reporter, which is dangerous.