DVD Review: The Hunting Ground
Well, these stats are terrifying..
It starts with teenagers who are taping their reactions to reading their acceptance letters for the first time. They're happy, there's tears, then all of that happiness is gone and we're meeting with victims of sexual assault who reported their incidences and had nothing happen.
This film reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend when we were young (and stupid) teenagers. We wondered if you agree to sex, and then it gets weird and you want it to stop, is that rape? You said yes at first before it took a turn you didn't expect. That's the type of head space that makes people not report things right away, or not at all. That type of thinking makes you question yourself and plays into the "asking for it" complex that is so harmful. It's embarrassing to type this now, but I had to say it. I wish we could've had that conversation with someone who said "Yes, that's wrong and it's not your fault." But those are scary questions.
The Hunting Ground throws out some terrifying stats on how some campuses are handling sexual assault reports. And by handling, I mean in some cases mostly ignoring. It's sad to hear the stories of these women (and one man) whose lives are forever changed. The film follows two survivors, Annie Clark and Andrea Pino as they travel cross country to meet other survivors and try to make a difference. Another story shared is that of Erica Kinsman, who immediately reported her rape, only for the police to completely botch everything, and her school to rally against her since her rapist was a huge football star. (who now plays for the NFL) It's disgusting.
The film is not without it's critics, of course. They didn't include interviews with the alleged rapists, which one one hand, I get the point, on the other, it would've turned the entire doc into one big "he said she said" argument. Slate actually wrote an entire article on how one story shared, that of Kamilah Willingham was investigated more than the documentary showed. Still, I'm fine with the way it was presented.
The Hunting Ground packs a very powerful punch and is heartbreaking to watch. Rape culture is still very real. There's an interview in Erica Kinsman's segment with a young woman Erica's age who completely disregards her rape and essentially calls her a whore. That's not okay. The immediate dismissal because of a few high profile cases were someone was lying isn't okay, especially when more rapes reported are actual rapes and not fabricated stories.
Memorable Quote: "Sigma Alpha Epsilon - sexual assault expected." - an alarming amount of people.