Column: Rape culture persists on campus
Published: Thursday, February 28, 2013
Updated: Friday, March 1, 2013 20:03
As much progress as American society has made in the last several decades, our women still must face the day- to-day worries of living in an environment hostile to their gender. Misogynists say that women are overreacting; that the feminists won’t be satisfied until supremacy is in the hands of women. But feminists — men and women who believe that gender does not increase or decrease a person’s value — are not seeking any kind of female domination. They want equality, and one of the greatest hindrances to gender equality today is the pervasiveness of rape culture on college campuses.
What is rape culture? Rape culture is telling women not to go out at night. It is telling women what to wear, lest they dress too provocatively and seem like they are asking for it. It is calling women sluts or whores or any other derogatory term
because they are not ashamed of their sexuality. It is women being harassed on the streets, and being criticized as being too uptight if they complain about the wolf whistles and vulgar comments.
Rape culture is a subtler (though still just as destructive) kind of violence against women, and persists on college campuses despite the more liberal and progressive views members of these campuses espouse. It is not just men who contribute to rape culture. Any time a woman calls another woman a hoe, she is being just as misogynistic as any man could be. Any time a woman partakes in victim blaming — e.g. “oh, that girl was raped because she was too drunk” — she is taking the feminist movement a step backwards. And it is not just women who are the victims of rape culture, though they are the most negatively affected. Society as a whole becomes a brutal, unsafe place as long as young men and women do not view sexual assault with the utmost disgust.
One of my most recent complaints was with the fact that The Maroon made the Feb.15 sexual assault front-page news. My problem is not that the newspaper reported a sexual assault, because I definitely agree that our generation cannot be ignorant of tragedy happening around us. My problem is that there is too great a possibility that the victim lives on campus and has to see the headline “Student reports sexual assault” everywhere she goes. The story served no purpose but to serve as fodder for The Maroon staff and sensationalize the suffering of a very unfortunate victim who is no way to blame for her suffering. Is a headline really more important than the mental wellbeing of a survivor?
I am especially repulsed by many students’ response to what happened. I hear terrible comments blaming the victim and I have even heard female students making jokes about avoiding stairwells. Shame on you. Each year about 200,000 individuals fall victim to sexual assault. For those who have never been sexually assaulted, don’t think it’s because of anything you did. You have only avoided becoming a victim through sheer luck, and those who have been sexually assaulted never did or failed to do anything to deserve it.
It’s time for people to stop viewing feminism as a bad thing. Feminism is just as necessary now as it was when women were fighting for the right to vote. Stop contributing to rape culture, regardless if you are male, female or trans. After all, a society in which half the population lives in fear is hardly a decent society at all.
Kate Watson is a general studies sophomore and can be reached at email@example.com
In My Opinion is a regular column open to all Loyola students. Those interested in contributing can contact firstname.lastname@example.org