// Let it be known that for the purposes of this essay I will // use binary and heterocentric language. This is not meant to // invalidate the existence of rape that isn't man-on-woman, // and the words "man" and "woman" are broadly enough defined // in this essay to include trans folk as well as cis. // As a consequence of binary language, I will also be using // the words "man" and "male" interchangeably.
There is a commonly overlooked counterintuitivity in our modern society; in the case of rape and sexual assault, the sex which most commonly perpetrates rape and sexual assault gets to define what constitutes rape and sexual assault.
The fact of the matter is that we live in a patriarchy, meaning that males traditionally have had power over females. This includes political power; for proof we need only to look at the demographic information for the US Congress and see that in 2014 women made up 19% of total elected officials in this country. One of the side effects of this patriarchy is that men have come to expect this power over women, even into the 21st century. Sexual consent, something some might think would be an absolute no-brainer to anyone with a conscience, might not be quite so common-knowledge.
As more women are learning that they have the right to say no, some men in their toxic masculinity believe they still have power over women as they have had for centuries. This leads to 10.8% of college men having admitted to committing acts that meet the FBI’s definition of rape.
Where does this leave many women? It might leave them in fear of men, especially on college campuses where a reported 27% of college age women have experienced unwanted sexual contact in some form. It might leave them frustrated with the efforts (or lack thereof) of college campuses to rectify the situation. It might leave them feeling ignored by law enforcement as many police officers are less than supportive of reports of rape. It might even leave them feeling frustrated with feminism, the very movement that has been instrumental in securing the rights of women for almost a century now.
“Campus Drugs and Sexual Assault.” PsycEXTRA Dataset (2008): n. pag. National Sexual Violence Resource Center. 2015. Web. <http://www.nsvrc.org/sites/default/files/publications_nsvrc_factsheet_media-packet_campus-sexual-assault.pdf>.
Manning, Jennifer E. “Membership of the 113th Congress: A Profile.” Congressional Research Service. US Congress, 24 Nov. 2014. Web.
Thomson-Deveaux, Amelia. “What If Most Campus Rapes Aren’t Committed By Serial Rapists?” FiveThirtyEight. N.p., 13 July 2015. Web. <http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/what-if-most-campus-rapes-arent-committed-by-serial-rapists>.
Weiss, Suzannah. “Bustle.” Bustle. Bustle, n.d. Web. <http://www.bustle.com/articles/118139-4-statistics-that-prove-we-need-to-teach-people-about-consent>.
“Women Against Feminism.” Women Against Feminism. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2015. <http://womenagainstfeminism.com/>.