September 11, 2014

Gender and Sexual Assaults on Campus

RaskoffBy Sally Raskoff

As we go back to school, there has been a lot of talk about preventing sexual assault on campus. This is not a new problem. In fact, I wrote a blog about rape and sexual assault two years ago.

Much of the discussion is about assessing the rate of sexual assault on college campuses, but even after the Clery Act, it’s often difficult to know what the actual numbers are or how to prevent it. However, the prevention tips and policies are one-sided, typically focusing on how potential rape and sexual assault victims can avoid being victimized.

It’s like saying to a murder victim, don’t get in the way of your potential murderer. Blaming the victim is not an effective way to deal with any issue.

One “solution” involved  inventing a nail polish that turns a beverage’s color if a date rape drug is present. This “solution” and others puts the onus on women to stay safe. Looking at the issue sociologically, I would hope that we would recognize that solutions like these are not sufficient, fair, or even effective.

To address the source of the problem, we must focus on those who commits sexual assault and figure out how to stop that behavior.

We know that more sexual assault and rape occurs in societies in which there is more social inequality between gender groups. More men than women are perpetrators of sexual assault and rape and although men can also be victims, many more women are  targeted.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have policies that support women and give them tools to combat sexual assault. Those policies are useful as they lead to services and support for survivors of rape and sexual assault. But it’s not always possible to provide services for all survivors in every community. These programs are often grant funded or dependent on donations and often lack funds to provide enough support and assistance to all who are in need.

What would it look like if we did have more programs and policies that were educating people (most often men) not to rape or sexually assault people? There have been some images of such programs circulating on the internet but most see them as humorous or as a joke. (Check out this link and this one for examples.)

Items on the list of tips include:

1) “Don’t put drugs in women’s drinks.”

2) “When you see a woman walking by herself, leave her alone.”

3) “Don’t forget: it’s not sex with someone who’s asleep or unconscious – it’s RAPE!”

4) “Don’t rape.”

CeeLo Green’s tweets about his perspective on rape are indicative of the attitude many have about sexual assault and rape. Evidently, he feels that a woman who is raped will remember it--even if she’s been drugged with a substance that impairs her memory.

This is why the concept of Rape Culture emerged in the 1970s. We don’t like to see this ugly reality and think we’ve moved beyond such problems. That is, if you ignore what data we do have about sexual assault and rape.

What are the answers?

Teaching our daughters how to avoid being raped or sexually assaulted is only one of many potential policies. However, this can also teach women to be afraid of and to distrust men. Not all men sexually assault or rape, yet women are taught that all men are suspect. What about men who are sexually assaulted? While they are fewer in number (as far as we know), they are not typically well served by prevention programs.

An NPR story from Youth Radio shared what parents are saying to their kids as they go off to college. This story included one mother’s words to her son and how he should treat women as if they are family. This could be an effective technique if it were done across the board. Ensuring that all people are educated about how not to assault or be assaulted can help.

Before we can attempt to solve a problem, knowing how it occurs is important. Thus we need more accurate data as to prevalence and situational factors. Data do suggest that most campus sexual assaults and rapes are among those who know each other. (I wrote a post on this blog about how we educate girls about stranger rape and don’t educate boys at all about prevention at all.)

An organization called Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) and other organizations work hard to deal with this issue and provide support for survivors of sexual assault and rape. The programs that focus on educating everyone can have an  impact but the gender inequality that exists in our society must be dealt with. Otherwise, we continue to blame the less dominant gender groups who are more often victimized and shield those in the dominant group who participate in such behaviors.

Check out your college sexual assault prevention program. What type of education and prevention does it support? If you have the time and interest, work to broaden it to seriously deal with stopping people from victimizing others.

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Comments

And that's what we call a victim complex.

Why put a lock on my door? Teach burglars not to steal!

Why look both ways before walking across the street? Teach drivers to watch for me!

The problem that modern feminist movements have is that these problems are not gender issues, they are human ones. The number of men who are sexually assaulted by women are quickly rising in college campuses as well as rape and violence. There has also been a false statistic inferring that 1 in 3 women will be raped in their life time.

Within these issues, bigger ones are beginning to form.And if we want to see them fixed, then they will have to focus on people NOT women.

This a great topic you've touched upon, I'd like to add that the use of social experiments has become an excuse to assault woman. Certain videos on YouTube have sprung upon many different opinions due to the thought that people can assault woman, say it is for a video and get away with it.Although this is not true, users believe simply apologizing afterwards resolves the issue. This is playing as a bad influence towards today's society as they may begin to think they themselves can do so as well.I feel we should further publicize this topic and raise awareness to try and stop sexual harassment.

I am glad that someone is writing on this topic. Sexual harassment happens much too often, in offices, in hospitals, universities and in stores around the world.
Check the link bellow:
http://www.franknicholas.com/sexual-harassment-lawyer-research/

This article is extremely sociologically interesting. It ties into all different social classes because sexual assault in college is an issue regardless of social class. Yet, I do know that ethnicity actually does have an impact as well, so maybe it could’ve focused a little more on that. Sexua assaults are largely underreported. We have issues even dealing with sexual assaults both in the justice system and within our social circles because of the rampant victim blaming. As the underlying theme of the article was to stop victim blaming within a historically gender unequal society, there is a lingering question. How do we educate people? The majority of people do not seem to want to be educated or think they need to be educated, and yet, this is such a rampant issue.
I read this article because, as a college student, I felt it was relevant to my life. My take on the article is that there is a huge emphasis here on the socioeconomic status indicator of victimization and criminal justice. The article claims that there is too much of a focus on how victims should react to crimes versus how to stop the perpetrators. I find that this is true. I have seen this from my family and from my classmates. There tends to be an attitude that girls are slutty for dressing a certain way and asking for it. However, there are a lot of people at my school who do understand what consent is. I also know that people who commit sexual assault are usually repeat offenders and it’s usually a small percentage of people committing these crimes over and over again.

Dr Julian Abel Constantine Gojer of Toronto Convicted of Drugging and raping two woman and killing a third one with the drugs he used to render his victims unconscious before raping them. Date fall of 2000. Psychiatrist gets off with a slap on the wrist and works as a psychiatrist regardless of criminal negligence against him.

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