American culture encourages males to be sexually violent and entitled
Sexual assault happens at college. A lot.
And it goes unreported. A lot.
Given its high occurrence and the high number of unreported cases, you would think that we would have devised a better response system to it, but we haven’t.
Instead, we continue to respond to victims in a manner that makes me think we are stuck in medieval times.
The first thing we like to ask about is her outfit.
One of our favorite responses to sexual assault is to blame the victim’s outfit for the incident.
I mean, would you look at that dress she had on? No wonder she got raped, did she really think she would get away with guys ignoring those twin peaks of hers? Heck, if this had happened a week later I might have hired her for my bachelor party tomorrow night.
Another thing we like to do is to comment on the victim’s past sexual history.
Who got raped? Oh, that woman. Did you hear, last semester she slept with, wait for it, I kid you not, 50 men. 50! I mean, maybe if she was a virgin I would feel sorry for her. But 50 men?
What’s one more added to her list, she gets plenty of action anyways; it shouldn’t be too different from her normal routine.
We also really get a kick out of asking how drunk she was.
Excuse me, but I was at the bar last night, and that girl was like, all over the place. I mean, hello. What was she thinking, drinking like that?
He probably took one look at her and scooped her right up, like, how stupid can you be?
Maybe if she’d cut out that one last Tequila Sunrise she’d be fine this morning, but nope, she just had to go for it. I always warned her those would be the end of her, but did she listen? I don’t think so.
What is wrong with these responses?
A lot of things. First of all, they’re insulting to all parties involved, not just the victims.
But the most obvious problem is that they place an unwarranted amount of attention and blame on the victim, focusing on the things they did “wrong” instead of blaming the actual person who committed the crime.
But second, and even more disturbingly, they treat men, the most common perpetrators of sexual assault, as inherent rapists.
As uncontrollable, sexual animals that, when faced with a naked, drunk or vulnerable woman, will leap at the chance to rape her.
If I were a guy, I think I’d be pretty offended. Personally, I like to believe that most guys are pretty nice. That most guys would see the victim and say, “Hey, this person looks like they could use some help,” rather than, “Hey, this chick looks like she’d be a pretty easy lay tonight.”
But these questions don’t treat guys as pretty nice. In fact, they treat guys as pretty terrible. As sub-par individuals incapable of expressing any form of emotion or judgment that extends beyond the growing bulge in their pants.
At least as women, the most common victims of sexual assault, it is only implied that we are either stupid or slutty. But we are still seen as people. As people who were capable of making a decision—what to wear, what to drink, what to do—and that made the “wrong” one.
Like I said, slutty or stupid people, but still people.
Take a look at the way men are portrayed in this picture and it gets a lot worse.
They are not portrayed as people. There is no decision for these men to make, because they can’t make them. They can only listen to the insatiable call of their pants when presented with any available woman—willing or unwilling—so as to satisfy their desire for physical dominance and gratification.
Obviously, we need to rewrite our questionnaires a little.
We need to start asking, “What type of culture encourages males to be sexually violent?
What type of culture encourages males to feel sexually entitled?
What type of culture treats males as inherent rapists?” I’ll tell you what type of culture.
The American culture.
If we want to change this culture, we need to address the root of the problem, not the victims.
We need to drastically change our idea of what constitutes an acceptable male sexuality.
Our men are only what we make them. If your culture tells you again and again that you are a naturally violent, aggressive, and sexually uncontrollable person, what do you think you’re going to think of yourself?
How do you think you’re going to behave? We need to stop telling men that this is what they are.
We need to treat men as fully-thinking people.
As people capable of gentleness rather than violence, sensitivity rather than aggression and restraint rather than entitlement. When we make these changes, that’s when we’ll see a drop in the victims.
Don’t blame the outfit.
Don’t blame the alcohol.
Don’t blame the victim.
Blame the perpetrator.
But don’t stop there. Stop the perpetrator. Change the perpetrator. Prevent the perpetrator.