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Rape Culture

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Photo Courtesy of Christy Blevins
Photo Courtesy of Christy Blevins

By Christy Blevins

 

Rape Culture is Alive and We All Know It.

Rape Culture is alive all around the world on college campuses, and it is alive here at Roanoke College. I don’t think any college campus across the U.S. will escape the grasps of rape culture, and as many talks are held and posters appear in hallways, this will always be the case. More has to be done to educate all students (i.e. Males AND females) about sexual assault, and it has to start earlier.

The term “rape culture” is widely associated with the feminist movement across the world, but recently it has become mainstream in awareness campaigns. The term refers to the larger societal norms that will allow rape, and for my argument, and sexual assault to occur. These norms include the lack of consequences for those who commit rape and assault, the assumption that it is “normal” behavior, and the view from many that it is not a serious crime.

News flash, it is a serious crime. Many students across college campuses who commit sexual crimes are not those who stalk or like characters on popularized shows such as Law and order SVU, but are simply those who believe they can get away with it.

Rape Culture is on this campus. It is on every campus. We as students at colleges may ignore it. We know many people who might push these ideas away, ignore when someone brings it up, or simply say “we don’t talk about that.” It’s time to start talking, and seeing as April is sexual assault awareness month it seems appropriate. Fortunately for Roanoke, we have amazing groups on campus which create events to discuss what sexual assault is and to educate people. Sex Signals does a great job, as do coffee shops which spur students’ discussion. (Granted, why do people need to discuss what sexual assault is?)

Recently the school put up “Sexual Misconduct Code” posters and information on how to report a sexual assault, and similar topics. Getting the information out there is great, but posters aren’t necessarily going to prevent assault from happening. A friend of mine posted a photo on social media proving what I have been arguing.  Directly written on posters meant to provide helpful services and consolation to those who have been victims of any sexual assault is a message that what they have to say will not be taken seriously and that no one will believe them. In the photo of the poster where it should say “Services for Survivors of Sexual Misconduct” it now says “Services for ACCUSERS of Sexual Misconduct.” Whether or not the person who wrote it is trying to be funny or serious doesn’t matter. It is part of the culture we live in that some people will not believe those who have been victimized, and some that believe that sexual misconduct is not a crime so there are no victims. It is these people who allow rape culture to continue.

According to a recent study published in 2015 from the University of North Dakota, 31.7 percent of surveyed college males said they would act on “intentions to force a woman to sexual intercourse” if they were confident they could get away with it. Only 13.6 percent said they would act on “intentions to rape a woman.” Plot twist, those are the same thing. Word choice doesn’t matter when you are committing the act, but it does matter when people of all ages and genders are being educated on what sexual assault is. Another recent survey showed that teenage girls (i.e. Middle school and high school) believed that sexual coercion and violence is normal because “they [men] cannot control their sex drives.” Is this the message that is being taught? There is no excuse.

No campus is safe from rape culture. Programs need to be initiated at younger ages, and continued through higher education that focuses on the definition of sexual consent and encouraging healthy relationships. Colleges need to punish those who commit crimes, instead of brushing them under the rug with cover ups (I won’t mention any specific schools as I’m sure we can all think of a few). Casually pushing an anti-rape message will not reach those who believe that they are not committing a crime, and that they are not rapists.