Consent is Sexy
From a young age parents tell their children to keep an open mind and embrace different cultures. They teach us to be courteous and mindful of different backgrounds and traditions. Regardless of whether one agrees with a culture or not, norms tell us to be accepting of it and what it brings to the world. A brand new culture has been introduced to society today. A culture that doesn’t rely on different food or a person’s origin. Rape culture is when society blames victims of sexual assault and normalize male sexual violence. In the midst in this craze, the quality of the culture is being clouded and people are so willing to accept a culture based around the exploitation of women. Children are growing up in a time where we are teaching young girls how to be extra careful and avoid rape instead of teaching boys not to be rapists.
Rape victims are always raped twice. First they are physically raped, then they are raped emotionally by the justice system and society. After experiencing the devastation of rape, victims often confide in an authority in hopes that their grievances will be addressed and their attacker be punished. Instead of being relieved by the actions of the justice system, victims are shamed and blamed for being victims. After going through such a traumatic experience, victims are scared and often feel alone. Help and answers are often sought after but instead victims receive ridicule. The long term effects of emotional rape surpass the physical action, causing depression, anxiety, and a lack of self-worth. In the CNN documentary “The Hunting Ground” a student reportedly stated that “My rape was bad but the way they handled it was worse.”
1 in every 6 women in the United States have been victim to rape, attempted rape or aggravated assault in their lifetime. When victims come forward they are often brushed aside or condemned for being victims. Victims are shamed and their abusers go on living a normal life. When brought to face the justice system, rapists often roam free the very next day. 97% of rapists don’t spend a single night in jail. The victims may be severely traumatized by the event and their attackers are back on the streets. Due to the inconsistencies in the justice system rapists have no fear when it comes to punishment. Instead of being prosecuted, they are free to assault or abuse once again.
At Columbia University, Emma Sulkowicz was raped. Her rapist still goes to her school and roams campus freely alongside of her and her peers. After reporting her assault she learned that two other women reported the same man had raped and assaulted them in the past. However, the University found a way to dismiss each of the three cases. Students at the University filed a federal report saying that the “school is too lenient with alleged perpetrators and it discourages students from reporting assault.” So instead of being comfortable with reporting an assault, students feel uneasy. This encourages perpetrators to continue assaulting because there is no punishment for their actions.
The groundbreaking CNN documentary “The Hunting Ground” highlights rape and sexual assault on college campuses. The film went into detail about how colleges hide and ignore sexual assault allegations on campuses. In the documentary a college administrator went on record saying “colleges deliberately make it more difficult to report rape and sexual assault because it is in the colleges best interest to silence the problem.” The most prominent case in the media today is the case of former Florida State University quarterback Jameis Winston. In December 2012 Erica Kinsman was raped and reported her assault. While being interviewed by the Tallahassee police Kinsman was told, “This is a huge football town. You really should think long and hard if you want to press charges.” She went on to press charges. The Tallahassee police took no action for ten months. Instead of support, Erica Kinsman received threats from unhappy FSU fans. Despite Winston assaulting her, he was being considered the victim.
Other victims in the film spoke of their encounters with their rapists and how the schools handled it. In the United States, less than 8% of men commit 90% of rapes. This means that most perpetrators go on to commit second and third offenses. Nationally, 88% of victims don’t report their rape or sexual assault because it is so difficult to do so. When victims did report their assault, they were often are told that they “shouldn’t have been drinking” or that they “should’ve fought back.”
The most common misconception in society is that women are “asking for it.” Whatever “it” is. Whether it is attention, physical contact, or sex, people assume that women want “it.” They are under the impression that all women want the attention, as if they feed off of it. If a woman leaves her house in a short skirt and a pair of high heels, men assume that she wants sex because she is dressed sexy. The idea that a woman can dress nicely for her own enjoyment seems foreign to men. Men think that every time a woman sees a man she wants him to notice her. So when women fall victim to rape or sexual assault, it is automatically assumed that they were dressed sexy and were “asking for it.” Saddest of all, as a society both men and women see a short skirt and a pair of high heels as an open invitation for advances.
However, in the society we live in today, whether a woman is dressed scantly or modestly she receives all sorts of unwanted and unrequested attention. A video was released by Huffington Post last fall after a woman named Shoshana Roberts walked around New York City for ten hours and received over one hundred cat calls. A cat call is a sexual gesture towards a woman, whether it be whistling, shouting or an inappropriate comment. Shoshana dressed in jeans and a black crew-neck t-shirt, clothes that most would consider moderately conservative (definitely not “asking for it”). Even without acknowledging the comments of her cat callers, she received unwanted feedback. One man followed her down the block for five minutes. Shoshana made no eye contact, walked briskly in the opposite direction and didn’t respond to his cat calls yet these men still assumed she craved the attention and was asking to be acknowledged. Even if these men are chasing her because they are truly interested, they need to realize that the way to a woman’s heart isn’t whistling at her like she is an animal.
If we know this is a problem, why does it keep happening? The emergence of rape culture has become the normalization of aggressive sexual acts and exploitation of women. Instead of being incarcerated, rapists and abusers are roaming the streets because another woman supposedly cried wolf. Even though the 95% of rape reports are not false claims. A prime example of this culture is the sexual assault case of fourteen year old Daisy Coleman. One evening she drank a little too much and became too intoxicated to make informed decisions. Upon the arrival of two seventeen year old boys, Daisy was raped. Despite her saying no, one of the boys continued anyway. Daisy was found the next morning on her front porch nearly frozen to death.
The boys were charged as adults under Missouri State law. However, after news of the incident spread throughout the town, Daisy was ridiculed and cyber bullied. Local townspeople blamed Daisy because she was too intoxicated to consent and by filing the case she was “ruining these poor boys lives.” People failed to realize that without her being able to give consent with in a proper state of mind, it is considered rape. After receiving grief from the townspeople the state dismissed the charges based on insufficient evidence. Despite the confession of one of the boys. After the incident the boys finished high school and went on to college in nearby towns. Daisy however was forced to move forty miles away and struggles with her assault daily. Since the incident he has attempted suicide twice.
In cases like Daisy’s, the courts are struggling with identifying what exactly constitutes consent. Consent is explicitly saying yes to a sexual act. Too often men claim women consent but the woman is not in a proper state of mind. Victims are coming forward and then being pushed aside because society’s view on rape is askew. Women are accusing men and the justice system is accusing women of crying wolf. According to federal law rape includes forms of sexual assault and instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity, including due to the influence of drugs or alcohol or because of age.” That means that if someone doesn’t consent or they consent while impaired, it is rape. 9 out of every 10 rape victims are females. The male stigma of what constitutes rape has contributed to the fact that only 1 in every 16 rapists spend a night in jail. The problem is that we are blaming women for getting raped rather than men for raping.
“Nearly Two Years Later, A Controversial Rape Case Is Reviewed.” NPR. NPR, n.d. Web. 03 Dec. 2015.
Sieczkowski, Cavan. “Watch This Woman Receive 100 Catcalls While Walking Around For A Day.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, n.d. Web. 03 Dec. 2015.
“‘My Rapist Is Still on Campus’: Sex Assault in the Ivy League.” Time. Time, n.d. Web. 03 Dec. 2015.
“Rape Culture Is Real.” Time. Time, n.d. Web. 03 Dec. 2015
“GET THE FACTS.” Get the Facts. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Dec. 2015.
Eichelberger, Erika. “Men Defining Rape: A History.” Mother Jones. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Dec. 2015.
“Home.” The Hunting Ground. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Dec. 2015.