As a long-time educator in the real world, I like to think I'm instilled with an adequate amount of empathy required to deal with the individual needs of my students on a meaningful level. Granted, it's sometimes difficult, as it is for most people from time to time, to imagine walking a mile in the shoes of others. But shockingly, you'll see no such empathy from the prestigious college institutions exposed in The Hunting Ground.
Of course, any sane individual knows sexual assault is the worst non-homicidal crime one can commit, and it's disturbing how often this apparently happens on campuses all across the country. In this incendiary documentary, countless victims (male and female) offer their horrifying stories of rape & sexual abuse while attending college, where they understandably assumed they’d be safe. But what’s just as obscene is the aftermath, where an overwhelming number of these institutions either attempt to sweep these reported incidents under the rug to protect their reputations, or go on the offensive and turn the tables on the victims, questioning how they were dressed or their level of intoxication at the time.
Much of the focus of the film is on two victims and their efforts to create an awareness of this serious problem, and their fortitude is inspiring. In contrast, we also see what they’re up against...a fraternity system which objectifies women and practically encourages rape amongst their ranks, most effectively demonstrated during a pathetic, caught-on-camera fraternity chant in which its members repeatedly chant “No means yes!” Worst of all, many colleges rely on considerable donations from alumni of those very fraternities, thus turning a blind eye to these incidents and exasperating the problem.
Of course, no representatives of these colleges appear on camera to explain themselves, but at the same time, how do you defend blatant sexual assault in any way, shape or form? Not only that, even the few abusers (often athletes) consequated for their actions are given relative slaps on the wrists in relation to their crimes. The uphill battle the victims face in an effort to get some kind of justice is enormous and enraging.
Still, despite numerous interviews and testimonies which are truly heartbreaking, the film manages to convey a sense of hopeful optimism at times, that this is a societal problem which could be fixed if enough people are made aware of it. Since creating awareness is what the best documentaries are able to do, The Hunting Ground certainly should be seen be everyone at least once. At the very least, they'd come away with a level of empthy these numerous colleges never did.
- Additional Stories (of victims)
- Q&A with Annie and Andrea (prominently featured in the film)
PURR...A FILM EVERYONE SHOULD SEE AT LEAST ONCE