Who Put You in Charge?

With all the discussion happening regarding Universities and Colleges [mis]handlings of on-campus rape cases, many people have never stopped to consider an important question.

Why is that their responsibility?  Why isn’t it taken to the police?

It’s a fair concern.  After all, rape and sexual assault are serious charges.  This article by Politico details not only why, but how it came to be that campus assaults became handled this way.  It’s an incredibly informative piece.

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Abstinent Opinions

referenced from usnews.com

referenced from usnews.com

In yet more drama in the college sexual assault front, Donald Eastman III, president of Eckerd College released a statement advising students on how to not get raped.  Needless to say, it was unhelpful, especially because it didn’t address the rapists…

Lucky for us (and their entire school), the student newspaper was having none of his bigoted statement.  They issued an incredible respond, which you can read for yourself here.  Part of this changing means the students getting involved.

And believe me, they are.

Assault Expansion

In New Jersey, a new bill has been introduced that would expand the legal meaning of sexual assault.  Essentially, it criminalizes consensual sex after the fact, if misrepresentation or lies were utilized in acquiring said sex.  Now, I can definitely see where this bill came from, as there are plenty of cases where people have used incredibly unsavory tactics to acquire sex, but I don’t know that it is ready to be passed.  To me, at its current state, it appears that just about any coercion could be criminalized.  If a guy tells you that he knows a celebrity, and you sleep with him, is that a crime?  Or are you just being gullible.  Or is it both?  Is it illegal if you admit that you were lying after the act?  It’s an interested concept, and I can see where a need for something like this would occur.  I’m curious to see if it gets edited and resubmitted or is voted down and simply falls apart.  It could be difficult to prove/charge someone with either way.

Read All About it!

by Randy Glasbergen

by Randy Glasbergen

I’ve talked about this a lot.  Now, we have a professional article from a legitimate source talking about the handling of sexual assault and rape in universities and colleges.  Honestly it just needs to be talked about in general.  This is serious, this is way more common than it should be, and it’s not slowing down.  Educate yourself, and force the schools to as well.

Shaming and Blaming

referenced from whaleoil.co.nz

referenced from whaleoil.co.nz

It’s been interesting growing up and into a society that is learning how to be sensitive.  U.S. society is learning how to use language that doesn’t offend, to make laws that are inclusive of more people, and to understand those that are different than most of us.  It’s happening more slowly than many people would like, but it’s coming along.  There’s one area that constantly confuses me, however.

Rape culture.

It seems that no matter how many trends emerge, or how many studies are done, people continue to make the same mistakes in asking the wrong questions, blaming the victim, and generally displaying an inability to empathize in any way.  If you were dressed provocatively, you asked for it.  If you were out alone after dark, you should have known better.  If you’ve had sex with lots of men, what’s the big deal?  If you were drinking, you probably didn’t realize the signals you sent off.  If you can’t remember, how do know you didn’t want it?  You should have fought harder, you should have gone to the police, you should have screamed for help.

No one asks the man why he raped the woman.  No one questions what was going through his mind, or why he thought that was something he was allowed to do.  I think, in a manner of speaking, we already know all of that.  When we ask questions of the victim, we show everyone that we agree with those causes.  Men (especially young men), see that women get raped all the time, and there are lots of reasons it happens.  We, as a society, drill into people’s heads that sex is built for men.  They need it, and will go to extraordinary lengths to get it.  Women simply exist to accept or not accept the sexual advances of men.  They’re sexy beings built for sexy adventures.  They, however, don’t get to ask for sex or be excited about it.  Women are built to be loved by men.

When this story began to come out and develop, I was intrigued to see what would happen.  Here’s a public figure being accused by more than one woman of abuse in the bedroom.  He’s beloved, admired, and followed heavily.  Immediately people began asking why the women waited.  It doesn’t seem to have occurred to these people that bringing forth something so private and serious against someone who is well-known and liked could be incredibly intimidating.  He has money for lawyers and protection that most people couldn’t dream of.  In fact, one woman was a lawyer.  She still didn’t come forward.  As she explained “I was aware that I, as a woman who had had a drink or two, shared a joint, had gone to his house willingly and had a sexual past, would be eviscerated. Cultural frameworks on this are powerful.”

If a successful lawyer shies away from a case like this in her own life; there’s not much more to be said.  Victim-shaming and victim-blaming are immensely widespread trends.  People don’t even seem to understand that they’re doing it anymore.  Hopefully at some point this will become a big “trigger issue” that people want to talk about and work towards eliminating.  For now, the more we bring it up, the more people it reaches.

Blink-Timing

Step right up, ladies and gentlemen, and view one of the most beautiful/horrible examples of on-campus sexual assault awareness.  I’ve said time and time again that universities and colleges need to do more to prevent and respond to sexual assault within their community of students.  This school NAILED IT.  By nailed it, I mean they did one of those things where the point of the nail goes in and then you hammer it sideways accidentally and it bends and you can’t fix it so you just pound it in so far that you can’t see it anymore.

Photographic Revelations

by Mike Keefe at InToon.com

by Mike Keefe at InToon.com

There are very few people who haven’t heard about sexual assault in the military.  These are similar issues to those I’ve discussed in Universities and Colleges.  Sexual assaults aren’t often reported (though both institutions commonly present themselves as very caring and protective), and when they are, they often aren’t dealt with properly.  The punishments are nonexistent/muted in comparison to the legal ramifications in general society.  This photographic essay is an incredibly powerful depiction of the personal damage that these situations can cause.  It’s something that needs to continue being addressed and fought for.