Rape culture. It’s a scary term, especially when it’s applied to our own culture--the culture of the campus we call home.
In light of recent events on campus, the Center for Gender, Sexuality and Activism held two open meetings on February 29th to discuss whether or not there is a prevalent rape culture at BU, and how it can be combatted. Dean Elmore was present for one, and the other was a town hall meeting. The first order of business was to establish a working definition of rape culture. Here is what was established, with a few modifications:
Rape culture is a culture that doesn’t understand what consent means when one engages in sexual relations. Rape culture is a culture where rape allegations aren’t treated seriously, or are made fun of. Rape culture is telling one gender how to prevent rape and telling the other gender nothing. Rape culture promotes the idea that a certain gender deserves to be attacked or attracts violence and sexual assault because of the way they’re dressed. Rape culture promotes the idea that rape isn’t perpetuated by people you know but rather by deranged people who attack you in the night (while in fact, according to the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, 75% of all survivors know their attackers, a number which rises to 90% of survivors on college campuses). Rapists, misogyny and institutional tolerance cause rape culture, definitely not the way people act or dress.
The Center staff called for Dean Elmore to support proposals that would deal with and prevent future incidents of sexual assault. Their requests included asking the university to provide additional full-time staff members to work alongside the CGSA and SHS to deal specifically with survivors of rape and sexual assault and provide leadership in dealing with future incidents. Currently there are two crisis counselors who deal with sexual assault. In a March 2nd press release, the Center quoted Director of SHS David MacBride as saying “SHS is not able to do as much as I would like [concerning issues of sexual violence] with our current staffing pattern.” They also asked the university to implement mandatory trainings facilitated by the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center for all coaches, student athletes, faculty, and student leaders. The Center staff is currently in communication with President Brown about these issues.
Their current area of focus is getting a Rape Crisis Center on campus. As their website, http://www.bu.edu/cgsa states, “A rape crisis center would help Boston University to better serve its students by providing them with tools to prevent and cope with sexual assault crises, and to lead the way in providing a safe and healthy environment for all members of the Boston University community.” The establishment of a Rape Crisis Center is a necessary step toward combatting rape culture on campus. Not only would it provide survivors a place of support, but it would send the message that BU takes rape and sexual assault seriously, and is willing to protect its students. Rape culture is not just an issue at this school, or at any schools. It is a world-wide problem. As overwhelming as this may feel, though, if we do not make progress and take action here on campus, what is the hope for the rest of the world? Change starts close to home.
Simple ways to combat rape culture in daily life:
- Stop making rape jokes. Don’t use language that trivializes the seriousness of the issue.
- Stop slut-shaming. A man or a woman’s sexual activity is his or her own choice, and no one has a right to judge.
- Stop victim blaming. If you hear of someone who was sexually assaulted, do not ask what he or she was wearing, whether he or she was drunk, whether he or she had hooked up with the person previously, etc. None of it matters.
- Educate yourself. Visit http://barcc.orgfor statistics, legal definitions, and more.
- Educate others. Talk about these issues whenever you have the chance. Do not be afraid to make your voice heard.
- Sign the petition to get a Rape Crisis Center at BU: