Sexual Abuse and Assault Against Women
Sexual assault is defined as any kind of sexual activity or contact that a person does not want or consent to. About 20-25% of women are sexually assaulted in college, most likely sorority girls and other females living on-campus (The Role Alcohol). Heterosexual women are less likely to be sexually assaulted or raped than homosexuals (Basile). Sexual assault is a prodigious problem that occurs all over, but, but it is most paradigmatic in colleges and universities. Universities need to do more to deter sexual assault in their walls. J.K. Rowling once said, “Indifference and neglect often do much more damage than outright dislike.”
A good example of the neglect and/or indifference some universities have on sexual assault is Yale. On October 13 at Yale, Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) fraternity pledges chanted obscenities such as, “No means yes! Yes means anal!” and “ My name is Jack, I’m a necrophiliac; I fuck dead women, and fill them with my semen!” through the residential section of Yale’s campus (Korn). The Yale Women’s Center denounced their actions as “hate speech” and “an active call for sexual violence.” Although the frat did apologize, the Yale Daily News defended the frat by labeling the response of Yale Women’s Center an “overreaction,” and claiming that “feminists at Yale should remember that, on a campus as progressive as ours, most of their battles are already won: All of us agree on gender equality.” Like DKE, the Yale Daily News has apologized for that article, but not before Yale students read the article, thus, deciding to condemn the Women’s Center for its reaction; furthermore, a “pre-season scouting report” which discussed the hottest freshmen girls promulgated around the University in 2009. Another fraternity at Yale took photos of their pledges standing outside the Women’s Center holding signs that read, “ We Love Yale Sluts.” Somehow, Yale’s administration has allowed, or at least neglected to take full notice, of the chauvinistic acts its students have exhibited.
Another, more well-known incident is the Brock Turner Case. In January of 2015, an Emily Doe (she wished to remain anonymous) was raped behind a dumpster whilst attending a Stanford college party with her younger sister. Brock Turner, the rapist, was convicted in March and faced up to 14 years in prison. Turner received only six months in jail and three years of probation because the judge worried about the “severe impact” that a harsher punishment might leave on the elite university athlete (Miller). “A woman is found unconscious behind the dumpster, pine needles in her hair, naked, wounded, assaulted. Meanwhile, meanwhile everyone is more concerned with the assailant’s appetite, rather than the survivor’s autonomy” (Baird). Baird is referring to the Brock Turner case and the pathetic excuse his father, Dan Turner, used to get him the light sentence. In a letter he wrote in defense of his son, Dan wrote “His life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve...That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life” (Miller). Turner’s letter was in response to Ms. Emily Doe’s letter to the court. In her 12-page letter, she reiterates every last detail of the night of January 15, 2015- the day she was raped- up to the day of the court hearing. She then responds to some of the defendant’s statements, fueled with anger. Despite the incriminating evidence, Brock was still spared because of the alcohol in her system and her lack of memory.
There is no one and nothing to blame for being sexually assaulted. It does not happen for one reason or another, but rather a multiple of reasons. Approximately 50% of student sexual assaults do involve alcohol, 43% of which is used by the victim and 69% used by the perpetrator. The numbers jump to 90% of rapes involving alcohol when the victim is assaulted by his/her acquaintance (The Role Alcohol). College is usually when most young adults experiment with alcohol and drugs for the first time, incapacitating them and leaving them to fall victim. Though these substances are most common for sexual assault, it’s not only reason it occurs. Only 20% of college-aged women who survive sexual assault report it (Basile). Victims might be worrisome to report out of fear or embarrassment; thus, they seal their lips and attempt to forget. “Once I forgave a predator because I was afraid to start drama in our friend group...no one around me said anything, so I didn’t say anything. Because I didn’t wanna make a scene."" (Baird). Peer pressure also plays a big role in sexual assault.
Being around other students their own age, many people just want to fit in, so they do things they’re uncomfortable with. Even if they don’t want to, they sip on alcohol, hesitantly take drugs with their new friends, go to parties, and maybe even engage in sexual activities like many others (Basile). In many cases, the courts and much of society blames the victim for being assaulted. Time and time again, people have said, “She should have been more careful. This is why you always stay in packs and never go off alone. She should have watched her alcohol intake. If she wasn’t drunk, then this wouldn’t have happened,” and one of the most common excuses used to justify the assailant’s actions, “With what she was wearing, she was obviously asking for it.” No one asks to be assaulted, but society keeps blaming the victim rather than the assailant’s lack of self-control. In college, the victim and the assailant are both adults; therefore, it’s not all the victim’s fault.
There have been many inventions to help prevent and reduce sexual assaults. “We had to invent nail polish to change color in drugged drinks and apps to virtually walk us home and lipstick shaped mace and underwear designed to prevent rape” (Baird). Since childhood, girls have been told to be careful, stay in groups, and warned about the girls on the news and missing milk cartons. They have been warned to watch their drinks and never trust a boy. They have been taught to live in fear, yet that still isn’t keeping them safe, but inflicting more fear and distrust towards men. These warnings have made it seem like all males are malicious, but that’s not true. In order to solve this problem of sexual assaults and misguidance- not just avert it- universities, and society as a whole, should teach the boys and girls a better way. Teach the boys how treat girls, teach the girls how to fight and trust their “gut,” and take more actions when sexual assault does occur. The victim should speak up when something happens, others around them should say something when they see a bad situation, and incriminate the assaulter when he has done wrong.
Baird, Blythe. Pocket-Sized Feminism. YouTube, YouTube, 16 Feb. 2016, www.youtube.com/watch?v=vT74LH0W8ig.
Baird, Blythe. For The Rapists Who Called Themselves Feminists. YouTube, YouTube, 7 Aug. 2016, www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJRKJ_z9iAk.
Basile, Kathleen C, et al. “Sexual Assault on College Campuses Is Common.”
Womenshealth.gov, Office of Women's Health, 13 Sept. 2018, www.womenshealth.gov/relationships-and-safety/sexual-assault-and-rape/college-sexual-assault.
B-Turner VIS, Santa Clara County Superior Court Cong., 1-13 (2016) (testimony of Emily Doe), https://www.sccgov.org/sites/da/newsroom/newsreleases/Documents/B- Turner%20VIS.pdf, (PDF).
Korn, Sandra Y.L. “The Harvard Crimson.” The Harvard Crimson, 15 Nov. 2010, www.thecrimson.com/article/2010/11/12/yale-dke-harvard-womens/.
Miller, Michael E. “'A Steep Price to Pay for 20 Minutes of Action': Dad Defends Stanford Sex Offender.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 6 June 2016, www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/06/06/a-steep-price-to-pay-for-20-minutes-of-action-dad-defends-stanford-sex-offender/?utm_term=.cddacd33f5f8.
“The Role Alcohol Plays in Sexual Assaults on College Campuses.” Alcohol.org, American Addiction Centers, 2017, www.alcohol.org/effects/sexual-assault-college-campus/.