Final Reflection: A Post on Society & Sex

Upon being asked the question of what the most important and influential concept to understanding the relationship between sex and society covered in this semester, I began to think about all the different concepts talked and read about in class. When thinking about everything, I began to see connections between different terms that came up throughout the semester that were discussed that I had never seen before. The concepts are all fairly different, yet are all still related in some ways because of the manner that society has been formed over the years. Agents of socialization, sex education, social constructions, and heteronormativity have all become interconnected, creating an environment of hostility towards people who do not identify as heterosexual.

The agents of socialization people are exposed to impact their views on everything in life. However, their views on sex are affected more so than some other aspects of life are. The socialization of sex and sex education has a more prevalent impact on how a person forms their ideas and views on sex. The environment a person was raised in, their religion, schooling experience, family, friends, and the media all heavily influence the formation of what sex means and should mean to a person. But, this can be dangerous- with the amount of societal constructions (such as what “good” or “normal” sex is, gender, etc.)  that exist today, it is easy for the manner in which a person was socialized to negatively affect their views on sex or gender. For example, many religions do not condone homosexuality, so if someone is raised in that environment, it is likely they would judge and discriminate anyone who is homosexual.

SInce gender is a social construction, it easy to stereotype and discriminate against those who do not fit into the gender binaries that exist today (boy and girl). So, those who appear as  lesbian, gay, queer, bisexual, or transgender are easily stereotypes and judged. The heteronormative ideals that are held by the majority of the people in this country also lead to stigmas and discrimination. When people who have other sexual orientations other than heterosexual, they are often mistreated by society and can even be susceptible to violence, sexual violence in particular (as seen in the video of the transgender man who used the bathroom of a New York McDonald and was beat for it by the manager, yet was charged for a misdemeanor when in actuality he was the victim ).

Over the years, this problem has perpetuated. It has become easier for discrimination and violence to occur without any repercussion on the perpetrator. The connections between these terms and these societal constructions and manifestations all lend to why society is as it is today and why people discriminate, act violently toward, and outcast nonheterosexual people. Having a good understanding of all these terms allows for a person too see the interconnectedness and understand why these horrible things occur. It allows for people to be aware of  the problem and not lend to it or be an enabler.

Project Safe for a safer campus

On November 17th this semester, our class welcomed a presentation from two guest speakers from Project Safe. I found this presentation to be one of the most influential presentations that we have witnessed thus far. The two women were extremely knowledgeable and dedicated to their roles in Project Safe and were extremely passionate, which provided for an enticing and engaging presentation. Project Safe, as defined by the guest speakers, is a center for sexual misconduct prevention and response. The mission of the center is to “provide information, support, referrals, and education about power-based personal violence (including sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking), as well as consent, healthy relationships, and healthy sexuality to the Vanderbilt University community.”  Vanderbilt has been affected by many reported incidents of sexual assault and personal violence and so this presentation was extremely relevant to this campus and at this time. The guest speakers explained how the center serves as a resource for victims that can assist in finding he or she proper support through resources such as counseling and/or legal matters. The women described the issue of sexual assault on the campus by providing statistics regarding the number of personal violence incidents that have occurred on campus while respecting the confidentiality of the victims. The guest speakers provided insight on how crucial this center is to the campus in giving an idea of just how many victims they are approached by and how their jobs require availability for long hours of attending to and providing emotional support of the victim. A beneficial aspect of this presentation was the energy of the two women that spoke. Their dedication and passion that they have for Project Safe was obvious and inspiring. The women were also extremely helpful in answering questions that our class had for them at the end of the presentation. Our class asked questions such as about the rape scandal that occurred within our Vanderbilt Football team and the prevalence of the emails that we receive reporting sexual assaults on campus. I was especially curious about the emails that we receive about reported sexual assaults, as I wrote my op-ed piece on this topic. These emails are alarming in quantity and I wondered how many of the reported sexual assaults are represented in these emails and the criteria that an incident fits into in order for it to be sent out in an email to the campus student body. A limitation of this presentation might be that the two women could have provided an example of an incidence of sexual assault that had occurred on campus that might have been especially heinous in order to express the immensity of the problem that personal violence signifies in general. Although it is not necessary for the presentation, it might have added strength to the power of the audience reaction.

A connection that I made from this presentation was to many of the previous content we have covered involving sexual misconduct and sexual violence. This presentation reminded me of the exhibition, “I am Unbeatable” photographed by Donna Ferrato that we viewed in October in the Fine Arts Gallery. Seeing the images that portrayed acts of abuse from that exhibition left me with an unsettling feeling and an obvious disgust for this type of abuse. Project Safe aims to prevent acts of violence such as the ones exhibited by Donna Ferrato and provides a resource for victims of personal violence. With both the raised awareness by Donna Ferrato’s photograph and creation of this exhibition and the Project Safe center becoming more well-known and utilized, our nation can attempt to eliminate violence like this and emphasis the disgust that characterizes sexual and power-based personal violence.

An example that I felt related to this presentation of Project Safe is this image that I came across on the Internet.

This image is very informative and covers a wide range of statistics that are related to sexual violence and assault specifically at the University of Texas in Austin. As mentioned during the presentation and during many classes, one in five woman are sexually assaulted while in college. Many of these statistics are alarming and shocking. Eighty to ninety percent of assaults on college campuses involve victims that know their assailants. This relates to the question that the guest speakers addressed about the emails from VUPD that the student body receives informing us on sexual assaults on campus. Both women notified us that many people do not pay close enough attention to the wording and content in the email and should be aware that many emails specify whether or not the assault was considered an acquaintance or not. This might influence the perception of sexual assault on campus and may alleviate some fear that might stem from the fear of being assaulted by an unknown person wandering on campus. It also might promote wariness about those around us and to not trust all of our acquaintances and to be more alert on campus in general.  A key statistic in this image was that less than five percent of survivors report their crime. This statistic is one that is consistent with the guest speaker’s presentation and implies that the emails that the student body receives only accounts for reported assaults. With such a small percentage of assaults being reported, one can assume that sexual assault occurs quite a bit more frequently than we would infer from those emails.

 

Do you feel safe on this college campus?

Why do you think such a small percentage of survivors of sexual assault are actually reported?

Do you feel as if Project Safe would be a resource you would utilize if this situation arose for you?

Project Safe and Power-Based Personal Violence

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Project Safe is a program on Vanderbilt University’s campus that provides help, support, and information for students, in regards to sexual assault. A few weeks ago, two of Projects Safe’s leading staff members: Cara Tuttle Bell and Wanda Swan came into class to further explain to us what they do at Project Safe, how they do it, and why they do it. Cara is the Director of Programs for Project Safe and Wanda is a Prevention Educator and Victim Specialist. The whole point of this program is to further spread information about power based personal violence (which includes sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking) to the Vanderbilt community and act as a safe space for students (who are experiencing any of these things or know someone experiencing them) to go to. Project Safe also supplies information about what defines consent, healthy relationships, and how to maintain a healthy sexuality—to Vanderbilt students. Project Safe works specifically with people who have been affected by some sort of power based personal violence and helps them through their experience by reaching out to other Vanderbilt resources. These resources include the Psychological and Counseling Center, Student Health, the Equal Employment, Affirmative Action and Disability Services Department, and the Vanderbilt University Police Department. Cara and Wanda work with these victims of power based personal violence and outside recourses to come together and create a safer place for students to feel comfortable in and more protected.

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In their class presentation, Cara and Wanda explained how they have recently written a twenty-three paged paper defining what sexual assault really is. The document is called the 2014-2015 Vanderbilt University Sexual Misconduct and Power-Based Personal Violence Policy. It outlines Vanderbilt University’s “principles of equal opportunity” and it “seeks to establish and maintain a safe and healthy environment for all members of the University community.” It provides information on steps that students should take for prevention, education, and training—all in relation to power based personal violence. The lengthy paper works to provide an elaborate definition of what power based sexual assault is and all of the aspects that go along with it. The document touches upon where to seek immediate assistance and ongoing assistance, all the different types of offenses (within power based personal violence), how to report an incident, how investigations (of sexual assault) work, and additional information for students, faculty members, and staff members.

While this document specifically touches upon multiple different aspects of sexual assault and is very descriptive—realistically… not many people are going to read it (especially students). I see this as a pretty big problem. Young people, specifically students, need an accessible definiteion of power based personal violence in order to fully understand what it is. While working on my final project, it became clear to me that very few students on Vanderbilt’s campus are actually aware of and could explain what power-based personal violence is—and what it involves (after reading survey responses and listening to interviews from students). Most students were either unaware of the rape culture Vanderbilt has, could not definite what rape culture or sexual assault is, they had no idea what any of the bystander programs are or do, and just in general—knew very little about the topic overall. Students have an unclear definition of sexual assault and many just do not even know what it is or what qualifies as sexual assault. Obviously somebody needs to inform Vanderbilt’s student body of the issues our campus is facing and about the issues themselves. Students need to be knowledgeable about sexual assault, power-based personal violence, and the resources available to them (such as Green Dot and other bystander programs). If we can somehow reach the younger generation in an accessible way (unlike a twenty three page long document) there could potentially be a lot of positive outcomes. If students actually understood what power based personal violence is and how to protect themselves and combat the issue, Vanderbilt’s community could grow to be a much safer place. Once students become truly education on the topic of sexual assault, only then can we see improvements in community life and perhaps a decrease in sexual assault on campus. It is very important students gain awareness on the matter in order to be able to keep themselves and their peers protected. Along with this, all victims of any form of power based personal violence should feel safe enough to come out and tell people what happened. No student should ever feel ashamed or embarrassed. Victims should be informed enough about power based personal violence and all of the bystander programs available around campus. That way, if a student is affected by sexual assault they know about the resources they can go to for any type of help they may need. Overall, Vanderbilt University needs to work towards finding a way to easily, but affectively, inform students on Vanderbilt’s campus in order to generate a safer and all around better campus environment. There may not be an easy solution, but it will be worthwhile (and save young people) in the end.

 

Do you think project safe does a good job of living out its mission statement? How do you think it could be more affective in helping Vanderbilt students? Do you think the Vanderbilt Community is aware of and uses Project Safe as a resource for those who have experienced sexual assault? How do you think we can help Vanderbilt students to better understand the definition of sexual assault and what it really entails?

 

 

 

A New Definition of Consent

It’s no secret that sexual assault and violence on college campuses has recently become very prevalent in media and the minds of students and faculty across college campuses, as well as in the minds of the government; multiple stories and different accounts of sexual assault and rape have been in the the news, forcing attention to be drawn to this issue and for it to be addressed. Recent studies in sexual assault on college campuses across the United States reveal that one in five women report being assaulted on college campuses, which is terrifying considering in the past, cases of this have never been properly reported or given attention. Students and victims of sexual assault have begun to cry out also, bringing attention to this issue. Some of their accounts can be read in newspapers or seen on the news, as the sexual assault that took place on our very own campus here was. Time magazine even devoted an entire issue due to this problem; in this issue, multiple politicians, activists, scholars, authors, lawyers and victims shared their voice and opinions on sexual assault on college campuses and how it should be taken care of.

Two of the articles in this issue that stood out to me the most include an article called “‘My Rapist Is Still on Campus’” written by Emma Sulkowicz, a victim of rape and junior from Columbia College, and an article written by Jonathan Kalin, a student activist who formed a movement for consent called “Consent Must Be Created, Not Given.” In Sulkowicz’s article, she tells of how she was raped the very first day of her sophomore year, and she is near the end of her college life yet her rapist is still free and on campus and will graduate with her. Not only did her rapist commit an act of sexual assault on her, but also on two other girls. Sulkowicz would wake up everyday afraid to leave her room for the fear of her rapist; in the future when she looks back on her experience at Columbia, it will be defined by this. it will be defined by how she received no help from the university when she asked for it and how she will have to life with this injustice for her entire life. When Sulkowicz did reach out to the school for help, administration and the campus justice system dismissed her case and the accounts of what had happened to her.

Situations similar to Sulkowicz’s happen way too often, and are the reason for all of the recent backlash that Universities are facing today; in fact, 55 universities are under investigation by the federal government for lacking in dealing with sexual assault cases on campus properly.  Many universities figure that they can brush these cases under the rug for fear of losing prestige and credibility. This may have worked in the past, however, rape on college campuses has become so prevalent, and on some campuses more so than others, that it can no longer be ignored. In recent years, rape culture has been perpetuated due to the media, sexist mentalities, and a sense of apathy from society. Relationships displayed in movies, TV shows, and music’s lyrics lend to the idea of rape and make power based violence seem acceptable in certain situations. Whether people or conscious of it or not, these images and messages are received by people and can contribute to their mentality and beliefs on sexual assault, swaying them to become more accepting, or even apathetic.

In Kalin’s article, he speaks of his movement to recreate the definition of consent and educating people about sexual violence in hopes of preventing it. He asserts that societal norms and the expectation of what college life should be like have created an environment where sexual assault is way too prevalent always featuring repeatedly shamed survivors of assault and perpetrators who plead the crime as one of “misunderstanding.” Although the government has recently stepped in in trying to help prevention, Kalin believes it will take a lot more than just this to change the culture associated with this; in order for it to change, the definition of consent must be considered and changed. Consent is not a silent practice as it appears in many movies and TV shows. It is something that must be verbalized and discussed to ensure that there are no misunderstandings and the participants are on the same page. If consent is an assumed silent thing, then there will obviously be multiple misunderstanding and can lend to the amount of sexual assault that occur on college campuses. Kalin also asserts that consent should not be made out to be a commodity, therefore people should no longer say that consent was “given” or “got,” but rather that is was created. If consent is created, then it should be backed by full understanding on both parties involved.

The recent strides made by the government and other activist organizations have helped the this cause immensely. College campuses have created outlets and resources to aid student victims and give them an outlet for support. Organizations such as Project Safe, Green Dot, and the Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center all on Vanderbilt’s campus all strive to do this. Legislation has urged and pushed for bills to be written and rewritten to aid in preventing and solving the issue of sexual assault and violence on college campuses. Today, activists are still urging people to take notice of the issue at hand and hope to cease the perpetuation of rape culture on college campuses across the culture. In order for this to happen, college students need to be well informed and educated on the issue, knowing exactly what constitutes as sexual violence.

How could Vanderbilt do a better job of educating its students on sexual assault? Should informing students on sexual assault and violence be required by all universities? How effective do you really think the programs are on Vanderbilt’s campus at aiding in the prevention of sexual assault on campus?

Rape Culture is a Reality

Christina Hoff Sommers’ article “Rape Culture is a ‘Panic Where Paranoia, Censorship, and False Accusations Flourish'”  indicates that the idea of rape culture is stirring up more trouble than it’s worth.  Continue reading

Global and Transnational Sexualities

Being an immigrant in a culture affects a myriad of aspects in a person’s life. The way they interact with people, their everyday routines and practices, and all aspects of their lives in an immigrant country are all altered and begin to fall into the mold of that of the host nation. Women immigrants see and feel the effects of being an immigrant more so than other people. Racial and gender hierarchies become a prevalent factor in how their lives are lived, and consequently, their sexualities and employment statuses are shaped based on the expectations of the dominant race or gender. When people immigrate to other countries in numbers, the people of that country typically experience moral panic, fearing that their social order and habitual customs are at risk to change due to foreign people coming in with their “alien” practices. This forms a resentment toward the immigrant people and culture, and gives the host nation’s culture a sense of informal power over them. Consequently, racial hierarchies confine immigrant women to a status of diminished personhood where their rights, culture, and sexual agency are treated as second rate to a dominant culture.

In the United States, hispanic and latino populations have grown immensely in the past decade. Many Mexican and Latin American people have immigrated to the United States seeking better work and opportunities for themselves and their families. Many have joined the labor force, working jobs in the realms of farm work, agricultural work, or on construction; a good amount of these workers are undocumented laborers. The employees in these situations, including the Mexican women who worked on the fields in California who were featured in the documentary, “Rape in the Fields,” are a part of this population. However, because they are immigrants, and are women, they have little to no power; they are easy to take advantage of. Their statuses and sexualities are at the disposal of people of higher racial or gender standings through neocolonialism. They are at the disposal of their employers. Because they have no rights, papers, little money, and need to provide for their families, these women are forced to keep working in unhealthy situations, where they are confined and mistreated. They have no choice but to submit to their employers and obey what they or told for fear of being acted towards violently.

The lack of rights that these women face impacts them in the most negative possible ways. Employers and people of higher racial or social standing feel as if they can take advantage of these women. These women are raped because of this, yet have to bite their tongue and endure the conditions just to provide for their families. Even when these women tell of their experiences of being exploited and taken advantage of, they are treated as second rate. Their claims are dismissed and they are forced to live with the violence and rape they face in their workplaces. If a white woman claimed rape, then she would receive all the attention and her needs would be met; but because these mexican women are part of a diaspora culture and carry no social weight compared to the dominant culture, they are completely disregarded. Historically, rape cases for white women have taken precedence over rape cases for minorities- some cases have even become national news, yet minority cases go completely under the radar.

The documentary “Rape in the Fields” portrayed this idea well. It displayed the notion of rape against Mexican immigrant workers as insignificant when showing the story of the man that would continually take a woman worker far away in the fields and force her to have sex with him. She told authorities about this man, and no one listened. He would rape her and threaten her, yet she had no power whatsoever to combat these actions. When authorities actually did take the situation into their hands, the man pleaded innocent and was not questions, getting away for free. Unfair situations like these cause life-lasting feelings of unrest and fear for the women who have to face these types of men. Situations like these happen often in these certain worker communities, leaving the women hopeless and feeling as if they cannot receive any help. This perpetuates over time, and becomes a culture. When it becomes a culture, it creates an environment where there is an unsaid expectation of the women to submit to the men in authority and their sexual wants without even questioning it or fighting it. These notions become widespread, and women are expected to keep their mouths shut, and they do because it is what they have to do to make a living and survive.

Unfortunately, I do not believe that this culture exists only in these realms, but probably also exist in other circles of immigrant and minority cultures. It probably exists not only in the United States, but in countries across the world considering the historical  gender bias and power complex that has been present for years. Do you think that the assertion above is potentially true? Will there ever be justice for these women immigrant workers, or will they continually be disregarded by the authorities and the United States’ justice system? What do you think it would need to take for this culture to change? Why do you think it is that these women who face these situations are completely disregarded?

 

What’s Sex Got To Do With… The Maryville Case?

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In 2012, a 14-year-old girl named Daisy Coleman was raped by her older brother’s friends who were seniors at the time after a house party in Maryville, Missouri under the influence of alcohol; the rape was recorded on one of the boys cell phones. Matt Barnett, the perpetrator, asserted that the sex was consensual, but the story that Daisy Coleman told asserted otherwise.

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When this case was first brought up, it was ignored and Daisy Coleman received a lot of scrutiny from the media and classmates. Because she had “blacked out” around the time that the rape had occurred, many people speculated her claims and labeled her as wild, a slut, etc. Upon the case being taken to court, it was dismissed because Daisy’s claims were not “credible” due to the state she was in, but also for political reasons because Matt Barnett’s grandfather was a trooper for 32 years and a four-term state representative for Missouri.

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The case was closed in 2012, and then reopened in 2014 due to help from The Kansas City star who published a long story on Daisy’s accounts. The story gained national recognition, and the nation was disgusted at how the small town of Maryville, MO turned its back on this young rape victim. This began to spread through social media, and the case was reopened again in 2014 where Matt Barnett pleaded guilty of endangerment.

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The fact that Daisy Coleman was shot down, criticized, and ignored when she first tried to share her story lends to the issue of why women who are raped are often afraid to tell anyone about it. They fear that because they are a woman and were a victim of power based violence and sexual assault, they are insignificant and no one will appeal to their assertions. Without the help of advocates across the country and social media, Daisy Coleman would have had to face shame and a sense of unrest for her entire life.

Why do you think that her claims were so heavily combated by the society she lived in at first even though there was video evidence? Do you think the case would have been ignored without the national outcry from the Kansas City Star’s article? Why do you think it is that Matt Barnett pleaded guilty for endangerment when he was supposed to get charged for rape?

Sexual Assaults: The problems behind the problems

As my group and I started our final project on sexual assaults on campus, I started to think to myself that the people who have no care or urge to help the ongoing problems are probably the ones engaging in them.  I started thinking that gathering all the data and information about what is happening at Vanderbilt is great and all but what is it doing directly to bring change?  We know how many assaults are happen per year, who it usually happens to, where they usually occur, between what times they occur most frequently, and what is involved in the scenario such as drugs or alcohol.  With this knowledge it would seem like solving the issues would be a piece of cake.  This could not be further from the truth.

To start, as our results showed, most sexual assaults occur in dorm rooms between the times of 8pm and 3am.  What should be done to counteract this?  A couple ideas come to mind but don’t seem like they are plausible.  First thing the school could do is after freshman year, make living off campus a priority instead of the other way around.  The school makes way too much money on students living in dorms for four years in a row that it seems that they would never make the switch to an off campus based approach.  Having students more spread out and not so close to each other could potentially slow down the assaults.  If going back to your apartment makes it easier to escape some of the people at school than why should the administration tell you that this isn’t allowed?  Think about it: a fraternity is having an on campus party and everyone is really drunk.  Someone you know is being really creepy with you and you feel uncomfortable.  Instead of going back to the same dorm in which this person lives, you call a taxi and go to an apartment complex with people from the real world and not just fellow students.  As the statistics show, stranger danger is a myth and most sexual assaults occur from people who are known to you.

Next, if we know that alcohol is a contributing factor to sexual assaults why are limits and sanctions not being made?  College students are at a very awkward age in which they feel as if drinking is the only way to have fun and come out of ones shell.  Its either get really drunk and be ridiculous or don’t go out at all because there is no point.  If this mentality won’t change, then alcohol all together should be what needs to be limited.  The problem with this is that the school would never ban alcohol on campus because Vanderbilt would be far less attractive to many incoming huh school students who want to party and receive a great education for four years.  Fraternities will never take alcohol away from their own parties because they think getting drunk is cool and taking it away would limit the frats reputation as being fun.  Thus, the attractive and cooler girls would never show up to their parties.

Lastly, if we know that woman are far more likely to be sexually assaulted than men, why aren’t there more ways in which the school offers protection for them.  As we all know, men tend to be bigger in stature than women and usually a bit stronger.  Would there be a problem offering self-defense classes, mandatory check-ins with friends, or always having someone with you at all times while out?  For men, why aren’t there more educational classes, seminars, or groups that talk about sexual assault and what counts as consent and what does not.  The lines are not so black and white as we would all like it to be.  When it comes to consent there are ton of grey areas in which people who study and work to try to protect people from assault do not have a complete grasp on.

With all the studies, information available, and resources that give us knowledge on how to protect the people at this school, I believe the leaders and people in charge are blinded by the money flowing through their bank accounts that they lose sight of the real issues and problems at hand.  They have everything they need to fix the problems, but would rather add another zero to the end of their salary.  We know letting people live off campus would be detrimental to the total income of the school, but at least use some of that money to hire better security officers or people who have safety as the number one priority.  We know banning alcohol is very unlikely to happen at a University such as Vanderbilt, but have bans on the amount, type, and who receives it.  We know woman are assaulted a much higher rate than men but no measures are set to specifically help them.

With this all being said, I believe strides have been taken to make Vanderbilt safer. But is it enough?

Global and Transnational Sexualities

Global and transnational sexualities are used as a source of capital by means of employment, media and neoliberalism. The standardization of beauty, which has emerged because of globalization, effects the opportunities of employment and the way immigrants are viewed especially in Lebanon and the US.

https://wgs160.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/814d9-original-1280-1403719608-3.jpg Continue reading

“The Girl who cried Rape”

“She’s gonna be the girl who cried ‘rape,’ and we’ll never be allowed into any frat party again.”

http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/a-rape-on-campus-20141119?page=4

The other day I was on Facebook, casually scrolling like I usually do and I happened to stumble upon an article that was recently shared on my timeline. This article highlighted a girl who was raped in 2012 at the University of Virginia. After being lured up the stairs of the fraternity house she was in by her date, Jackie was raped by seven different men for three hours. She found herself in a dark fraternity house room at 3 am after being traumatized for hours… alone. When she’d realized where she was and what had happened, she rushed out of the house and called her friends to come rescue her. After trying to explain what had happened, one of the guys who came to pick her up stated, “She’s gonna be the girl who cried ‘rape,’ and we’ll never be allowed into any frat party again.”

After such a horrific incident, this seems like the most misogynistic and demeaning comment someone could make. Where is the sympathy and the compassion? It seems these days so many people, men and women, lean towards blaming the victim and making excuses rather than standing up for what is right. This is probably one of the most common reactions because of the false yet common myths about rape. Sexual assault victims may feel humiliated, ashamed, or embarrassed about what they were forced or coerced to do. They may often feel responsible for decisions that they made before the assault that they (or others) may later think led to the assault. Even talking about the sexual assault can be difficult because we risk being disbelieved or rejected. The truth is that rape is never the fault of the victim. One thing our society needs to do as a whole is work towards ending victim blaming.

http://time.com/100137/campus-sexual-assault-mariska-hargitay/

Thankfully, many people in the world today are working to stop this misconception of victim blaming. From celebrities to scholars to politicians, the blame game is in the works of being ended. One celebrity who is working strongly to try and end this is Law and Order star, Mariska Hargitay. In an article in Time magazine that we discussed in class, Hargitay states, “Society continues to misplace blame and shame on survivors—both women and men—on college campuses and everywhere else. That has to end. We must confront the myths and excuses that help perpetuate sexual assault. We must speak about these issues, boldly, thoughtfully and often, because criminals thrive when we are silent, when we are reluctant to engage, when we insist that these issues are too murky to sort out.” Rape should never be an issue that is taken lightly on any accounts. We can’t deny the facts: one in five women on college campuses will be sexually assaulted during their four years, and one in sixteen men will be sexually assaulted. In class we learned that conservative estimates suggest that twenty five percent of women experience sexual assault in their lifetimes and about eighteen percent of those assaults involve rape. Also, eighty to ninety percent of sexual assaults are perpetuated by an acquaintance. In the instance of this case at the University of Virginia, these mere statistics served to be true.

So why do people tend to blame the victim rather than accepting their word and the truth? For women maybe it’s because shrugging off a rape or pointing fingers at the victim may be something done as a form of wishful thinking. It could be done to reassure ourselves that, despite the obvious facts, we could never be so vulnerable to this violence. For men, skepticism is a form of self-protection too. For much of their lives, they’ve looked forward to college as a place to become a man, with no rules and have fun… and of course carrying the expectation that when you consume alcohol, sex may be a given with no-strings attached. However, despite everything, there should be no excuse for victim blaming especially when 60% of rapes have been found to not even be reported. Along with this, 97% of sexual assault offenders will never spend a day of their lives in jail. According to Rolling Stones article, there was a study released in 2002 which explored the truth behind rapists and sexual assault offenders: “Lisak’s 2002 groundbreaking study of more than 1,800 college men found that roughly nine out of 10 rapes are committed by serial offenders, who are responsible for an astonishing average of six rapes each. None of the offenders in Lisak’s study had ever been reported. Lisak’s findings upended general presumptions about campus sexual assault: It implied that most incidents are not bumbling, he-said-she-said miscommunications, but rather deliberate crimes by serial sex offenders.”

The facts are there, so why hasn’t there been more to stop it? In a world where rape statistics are so high and it is something that cannot be avoided, why is there not more to be done to prevent rape and get awareness out there? What more can be done to end victim blaming, and promote compassion among all people when it comes to an issue as significant as sexual assault?