Rape should be discussed at UABy Nathan James | 06/24/2014 5:39pm
There’s a disturbing trend in the way our campus talks about rape.
Our campus, like most college campuses, has a rate of sexual assault that is much higher than in surrounding areas. Hoping to start discussion on this problem, The Crimson White ran numerous pieces on campus sexual assault in the past year.
To that end, I want to use this column space to define rape culture and explain how it leads to sexual assaults.
The core tenet of rape culture is that women are the “gatekeepers” of sex. According to this belief, it’s a woman’s job to evaluate male advances and decide which men have earned sex with their efforts. In this worldview men are expected to pursue sex all the time and accept sex whenever it’s available.
If this doesn’t seem like an accurate representation of American culture, there are numerous examples to verify it. When a woman turns down sex from a man, it’s considered normal, and the man’s friends may mock his game. But when a man turns down sex from a woman, people immediately ask, “What’s wrong with the woman?”
The understanding is that the man was turned down because he wasn’t smooth, well-dressed or generous enough to earn sex. But for a man to turn down a woman implies that there’s something drastically wrong with the woman.
Obviously, not every interaction works like this. Not all Americans assign men and women unequal roles in sexual relationships. But many do, and you can affirm this by visiting any club or frat party.
At first, it’s hard to see how this attitude contributes to rape. But look at rape victims; oftentimes they’ll be told that they shouldn’t have dressed provocatively, drank so much or led a guy on if they didn’t want to be assaulted. These women aren’t treated as victims, because in society’s eyes their rape was their own fault for being bad gatekeepers.
That’s not where the problem ends, though. Men are often excused from rape because rape culture assumes that men are programmed to take sex whenever it’s available. This point of view is most often summarized with the words “boys will be boys,” and was on display during the Steubenville rape trial.
So with all that being said, what’s the point?
First, we should remember that sex isn’t something men earn from women. Sex is a mutual bond between consenting adults, and it should be mutual on every level.
Second, men need to understand that at no point are they entitled to sex. No matter how a girl dresses or leads you on, that doesn’t waive the need for consent.
There will be many, many acts of sexual assault at The University of Alabama this school year. But hopefully, with this information, there can be fewer.
Nathan James is a senior majoring in public relations.