The Hunting Ground

We went to see a screening of the Hunting Ground this past week.  There was a lot of buzz around this movie at Sundance this year so I was really happy to be invited to a screening.

The Hunting Ground is a documentary film about sexual assaults on college campuses directed by Kirby Dick.  Amy Ziering is the producer who also produced The Invisible War, an investigation into the epidemic of rapes in the military.

The film is powerful.  It should be seen at every college campus at orientation.  What is the most interesting is how each college administration is completely out of its element dealing with sexual assaults that have been reported.

There are two young women in the film who were the change agents forcing this issue to come to light through Title IX.  They started talking to their peers and became a community for victims across the country.  They put their heads together and figured out how to file a law suit against UNC for failing to hold up to Title IX law.  Impressive young women.

There was an article in the NYX over the weekend that from a woman who had been assaulted in 1997 at UVA.  She describes her experience with the university that is not so different than the experiences of victims today.  20 years later and nothing has changed.

Someone told me this the other day about a woman who had her rape case get to trial.  She happened to be a prostitute. Here is what her lawyer asked the jury.  Think about your last sexual experience.  Would you be able to share with everyone the details of that experience for hours on a stand?  Would you be willing to describe the activity word for word?  My guess is very few people would be willing to do that.  Sexual assault victims are asked to do that.  It is not easy and they should be applauded for coming forward not victimized and debased for reporting a crime that has happened to them.

I hope this documentary starts to be seen and talked about.  The hope is that dealing with sexual assaults on college campuses will have a process that will give the victims recourse.  Think about how hard it is to come forward.

Comments (Archived):

  1. awaldstein

    On the list.Saw the two young women who created this on Bill Maher a bit ago.They blew me away. So articulate and thoughtful. Not angry, just so focused and full of belief that they will change the world by bringing this to the forefront.Super impressed with them.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Articulate and thoughtful. Exactly.

      1. awaldstein

        What struck me was that they were not introduced as victims. Nor was that their poise.They were introduced as film makers with a cause and only at the end in passing did one of them mention in passing about how hard it was after it happened to them.Maturity and focus in such young people feeds my belief in pragmatic optimism that the world is getting better a bit all the time.

        1. Gotham Gal

          ha. mine too!

        2. Kirsten Lambertsen

          I always say I have total faith in the future of humanity, thanks to all the people I know who are much younger than me 🙂

  2. Erin

    Getting raped before classes even begin! Wow. That must colour your experience of college. Kudos to these girls- this takes balls.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Total kudos.

    2. Kirsten Lambertsen

      It takes nerves of steel. They no doubt have been subjected to daily rape and death threats. They’ve probably had their private information ‘doxed’ online and had to take measures to protect themselves and their families. This is what happens to women who are non-compliant in the digital age.

  3. pointsnfigures

    Except the UVA rape was entirely fictional and made up.… The Duke Lacrosse thing, entirely made up as well. Although the myth’s persist. This is too bad because when there is a true incident or problem, it makes it much tougher on the woman who was violated.

    1. Gotham Gal

      That is one in thousands of sexual assaults that take place on college campuses.

      1. pointsnfigures

        There is no doubt that sexual assaults occur. I know of them occurring when I went to school back in the late 70’s early 80s.. I also don’t mean to undermine the seriousness of the crime. However, I don’t think they occur at the frequency the mainstream media has been reporting. Some of the initial statistics being reported after the false UVA incident were totally impossible to believe. Fortunately, the Rolling Stone and the other media that broke the fake story are being sued for libel.

        1. Kirsten Lambertsen

          It’s really unhelpful to have to go over this ground again instead of talking about how shitty female assault victims are treated on campus, and everywhere. It’s a distraction.If there was a rash of robberies occurring in your neighborhood, would you find it helpful for me to focus on the number of false robbery claims made to insurance companies every year?

          1. pointsnfigures

            I guess what I am saying is that I don’t agree with the premise that this happens with regularity like shoplifting. This article does a good job articulating what I mean…In sum, Rape is disgusting. Men need to respect women. But it’s not epidemic on college campuses

          2. Kirsten Lambertsen

            I think the focus of the film is that it does happen and when it does, it’s covered up, actively, on campuses to protect brands and athletes. That, in turn, leads to more violence.I just want to assure you that I don’t see you as condoning rape or any other kind of violence. I’d hate for you to feel like I’m trying to frame you up that way, which I think is a risk in these conversations. And, I’d also like to encourage you to take rape out of the ‘men disrespecting women’ place in your mind. Just put it in the violent crime place.

          3. pointsnfigures

            Agree. I didn’t hear that in the trailer but it could be because of my own biases. Agree on violent crime.

          4. Gotham Gal

            Totally agree

          5. Matt Kruza

            I think a lot of the answer is to make it mandatory for the police to be involved (non-campus right?). I mean, it is a violent crime, as you say, but are any other violent crimes not automatically reported to police? Sure a campus may handle a petty theft, but I know for a fact they wouldn’t keep police out of a murder, or likely even an assault? It seems like this is an issue you have spent much time on (advocating or studying) so curious if you agree? I just think it is way too big of a conflict of interest for the university to handle internally vs. having the police handle.

          6. Kirsten Lambertsen

            I don’t know if I’m in a position to render a really well-thought-out opinion, but it’s hard at the moment for me to see what would be wrong with this suggestion. Imagine a college saying, “We deal with murder internally.” It would never fly. I get the feeling that’s what the filmmakers are saying but of course won’t know until I see it 🙂

          7. Matt Kruza

            Yeah I don’t know what the film will say, but many blame the college and expect them to fix it. I am fine blaming the colleges, but its irrational to think they will / can fix it. Hopefully that becomes the default to take it out of the college’s hands

        2. Yinka!

          Often lost in these discussions is the fact that reported cases don’t represent the whole picture. While the media may be given to sensationalizing any topic they cover, the fact that most sexual assaults are not reported means the frequency of occurrence is definitely much higher than surface stats show.

          1. Gotham Gal

            I totally agree.

        3. Ari Lewis

          There was a good post in WSJ today about campus rape:…. As a student in college (Case Western), I think the burden of proof problem is a big issue. Preponderance vs Burden of Proof needs to be reviewed. At the end of the day, this is not a situation that colleges should be handling. It should go straight to the police. As guilty as someone might look, it needs to be investigated. Schools don’t have the resources for it. The UVA incident and the Duke rape case are perfect examples of jumping to conclusions.Unfortunately, many people drink and have sex. We live in a society where girls and guys think because they are drunk and their actions are acceptable b/c of intoxication. When they wake up the next day, they have regrets. Colleges should be teaching students more about drinking responsibly and sex vs focusing there resources on rape accusations: this is a job for the police.

    2. Kirsten Lambertsen

      If you consider yourself an ally to women, you’ll drop this kind of statement, “…it makes it much tougher on the woman who was violated.” It puts violence against women in some kind of class that requires special proof.There are bogus reports of every kind of crime every day. We don’t go around talking about what a “shame” it is that it undermines the bonafide cases.What makes it tougher on women who are assaulted is holding them up to some extra high bar of proof because some other case somewhere didn’t meet the burden.

      1. Gotham Gal

        Fair enough.What I mean is that when people are told that it was their fault or that they should just live with it is just not ok. These crimes should be treated as crimes just as murder, theft, etc is. There is a process not a blaming of the victim.

        1. Kirsten Lambertsen

          We’re in total agreement.

  4. Kirsten Lambertsen

    So, regarding this quote: “Think about your last sexual experience. Would you be able to share with everyone the details of that experience for hours on a stand?” Let’s be clear that sexual assault and rape are not “sexual experiences.” They are violent experiences. Period.

    1. Gotham Gal

      absolutely. experiences are hopefully not violent.

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        And I really should have started with, “thank you for sharing this.” Thank you.

        1. Gotham Gal


  5. Jessica Chavarro

    I really admire the courage of these girls to face the problem and know that they have nothing to be ashamed of. I’ve heard about this from my clients when they send their girls to college. It’s truly amazing how the colleges they mention didn’t realize that time has changed and they would be exposed eventually specially by social media. Ironically by them “dealing with the problem” behind closed doors to protect “the brand” they are now in raising more eyebrows and making everyone question their integrity.

    1. Gotham Gal

      complete admiration

  6. Yinka!

    I hope this eventually leads to some type of legislation mandating schools everywhere to involve police in such assault cases, with legal repercussions if they don’t. Canada’s no better: As of Nov 2014, only 9 out of 102 universities and colleges have specific, separate policies to deal with sexual assault.…It is so ridiculous that educational administrators with no background/authority in law enforcement can get away with arbitrarily sweeping such matters under the carpet while punishing the victims who dared to report.

  7. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Just had to leave this here. Food for thought on those rape statistics…