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How can we help these victims? Sexual Assault Is Present

When it comes to women and assault, especially on college campuses, there is a lot of fake news going on. So what are the facts? And what can we do to be part of the solution?

FACTS:

-We know that women get raped and that men tend to do the raping.

-We know that the numbers are staggering and that the #metoo movement showed up on the Facebook/Twitter/name-your-social-poison feeds of everyone and that when we, as women, had a hard time coming up with a moment to become a part of the movement, it was because our entire lives have become a series of blended #metoo moments and shocking aberrations that we have become desensitized to.

-We know that 1 out of every 10 female undergrad students reports being sexually assaulted or rape and that number jumps to 1 out of every 4 when you look at graduate students. What we don’t know, is how many go unreported, and why this happens in the first place.

-As you read this, laws have been passed that bypass the public, accurate record keeping of reported and responded to assaults on college campuses.

-This is a real issue that affects each and every person on the planet, because every woman is a daughter, potential mother, sister, friends, and self-worthy human.

I’ve heard it said that in times where issues are too big to work out, like a long algebraic equation, we slice it up into smaller issues that we can feel more comfortable tackling. Perhaps this is one of the times where slicing it up into who, what, when, where, why only distracts us from the true issue. Perhaps we, instead, need to focus on the bigger picture.

SOLUTIONS:

Step 1: Watch what you say

Begin with just changing the way you use language surrounding assault. I recently caught myself used the term “got drugged” recently- and was shocked by it’s true meaning. She got [herself] drugged. She got [herself] raped. The ownership of the action lands on the woman. It is a classic form of victim-blaming where we assume this is something she did to herself. She wasn’t careful. She drank too much. She was too relaxed. She trusted the wrong guy.

If that’s not enough, we still have people, some in our very campuses, preaching about dressing modestly. Do you know the actual definition of modesty? “Behavior, manner, or, appearance intended to avoid impropriety or indecency.” Other dictionaries even use the word “decency” in theirs… Such terms are not only outdated, but using verbiage that assumes a sense of accountability for ills committed against us is not only harmful but technically wrong.

We have historically assumed that women who dress with more areas of their body covered tend to be assaulted less often, with those who show off sculpted legs and heart-shaped cleavage obviously needing the attention, but statistics show that it is in fact the opposite. It is shy and prudish women who tend to be afflicted, and it is also these women who have little chance of filing appropriate reports and of being supported/believed when doing so. This could be because the very nature of sexual assault is the want for control, and quiet women certain seem like they would relinquish it easily, and perhaps even enjoy it.

Step 2: Let’s talk about sex

If demolishing a society that is so instilled in victim blaming it has seeped into our daily dialogue is a start, perhaps the next step is to undo the hundreds of years of misinformation on women’s sexuality.

Through the historical greats Darwin and Freud we forged the path of the patriarchy- knowing or unknowingly- shunning women from any and all conversations about how their world should be run: government, medicine, law, and yes, even our bodies. All from the perspective of women as libido-less beings, incapable of achieving orgasm, much less actually enjoying sexual experiences. We had entire cities of prostitutes moaning to fake climax with men who were convinced they could not have them.

Women, like every other mammal, needing longer than the time the male usually takes to achieve pleasure, was broken down into the sum of her “broken” parts. We learned that if a man wants sex (and we have taught him that men ALWAYS and ONLY want sex), he must get it by force or by coercion. We taught our young boys how to groom women. Ask her dad if you can date her, buy her flowers, tell her she is pretty, buy her diamonds, get her drunk, convince her to give it up. This toxic masculinity made men incapable of softness, becoming husbands, and fathers with so much damage to be healed.

What do you think would happen if we change the conversation into how much women want sex? Perhaps then, the young men growing will realize there is no need for convincing and there is no need for control. It turns the dance of sexual chess into less of a guessing game, into more of a dialogue. Maybe with less to do with someone winning a trophy, and more to do with achieving healthy and delicious pleasure.

Step 3: Stop sexualizing women’s behaviors

A rather pleasant side effect of encouraging and acknowledging women’s sexuality, would be the relaxation of judgements that come from the nuances of our behavior. Maybe a short skirt is an invitation for an ass slap and red lipstick means you need to hold my hair back, right? Actually, when women are free to speak as they please, the only invitation for a spank is her telling you “please spank me” and the only demand for a hair pull is “I like when you pull my hair”. A woman is not the embodiment of sexuality, so stop sexualizing everything she does. It doesn’t have to be some difficult dance where I show you my self respect by dressing in a way that makes you less uncomfortable or likely to commit a crime.

Step 4: Speak up and back up those who do

Lastly, our efforts need to focus in on offering avenues and encouragement for reporting crimes. In our own student body we have people who don’t think women should be trusted when describing rape or assault. Yes, there have been cases of women reporting crimes that were never committed, and that is atrocious and punishable as its own crime, but we do not stop encouraging victims to come forward because of it. The man that assaults once, will assault again. It is an evolving habit. After all, the infamous rapists and murderers of the world are often stopped by victims who managed to get away and find their voice- even before knowing the long chain of victims before them.

We are all part of the solution, as we are all part of the problem. And what we are doing so far clearly isn’t working. Do you have any ideas for ways we can stop rape and assaults? Do you think our current political climate has affected/will affect the way we behave about these social issues?

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