Monday, November 23, 2015

The Hunting Ground Review

Lizzy Seeberg.

July 30, 1991 - September 10, 2010. 

Take a second and really let that sink in. Her name was Lizzy Seeberg, and she was a beautiful and bright young woman. She was born in 1991. She died a teenager.

If you have followed my reviews before now, you probably know I have a daughter. I write about her a lot. She is my best friend. She is the love of my life. Before she was born, I thought I knew what it meant to be afraid. I had no idea. I just want to keep her close, keep her safe. 

Tom Seeberg had a daughter. Her name was Lizzy Seeberg. She was sexually assaulted by a member of the Notre Dame football team and no one from the school listened to her. No one cared. After being not only ignored but threatened for accusing the man of rape, Lizzy took her own life. 19 years old. Gone forever.

Few subjects make me as nauseous and angry as sexual assault and the victim blaming that goes along with it, so when I heard that CNN would be broadcasting the new documentary The Hunting Ground, I grabbed the remote and set the DVR to record instantly. I knew the content would hit home because I already knew the content. I was familiar with practically every case that is covered and the staggering statistics of rape on college campuses and the obvious agenda of those institutions to sweep the accusations under the rug. I had no expectations that this film would prove to be eye opening because my eyes were already open. 

Despite this, I still feel like I have been punched in the gut. Even when you already know the story, hearing it all over again still hurts. As a film, The Hunting Ground is extremely well made and I have a lot of trouble with complaints that it is one-sided in its portrayal of the subject. What other side is there to tell? These schools and the students that were accused of the crimes had opportunities to speak, to tell their sides of the story. They either said nothing or they tossed the victims under the bus. We are subjected to the gross reporting of what the victim was wearing that night, as if an outfit makes it impossible to say no. But they were drinking, they say, and why else would they go back to their room? As if intoxication is an excuse. As if someone isn't allowed to change their mind.  Think of the accused, they tell us. Think of the damage done to them. 

It's shameful. It's a disgrace.

There will be better documentaries released this year. I have already seen a couple actually, but The Hunting Ground may be the most important work of the bunch. It brought more than a single tear to my eye, and I tremble at the thought of my beautiful little girl being the one that is hurt, that is ignored, that is shamed. 

A recent study indicated that 23% of women will be sexually assaulted while on a college campus. Lizzy Seeberg was one of them.

Remember her. Remember all of them. 


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