Profile: A Feminist's Take on Sexual Assault

It's no secret that sexual violence is a serious problem in the United States, especially in college and university campuses. Sexual violence refers to "sexual activity where consent is not obtained or freely given." Rape and sexual harassment are forms of sexual violence.

Ways to prevent all types of sexual assault requires the change of certain perceptions and ideas based on sexual assault that appears to our society. For example, say a girl goes to a party with her friends and she is wearing an outfit that some would consider revealing. During the night of the party, she gets harassed by a boy. Some people will think it’s her fault because of her clothes and will say, “She was asking for it. Look at what she was wearing.”

This perception has to change because no one should be harassed or assaulted for any reason, especially based on the outfit they are wearing. Boys should not assume that when a girl is wearing "revealing" clothing that she wants to sleep with them. Also, if she or he doesn’t give consent to any sexual activity, then it is not okay to force them to do it.

This mentality has to change, but it can only change if people are aware and educated on sexual assault prevention and why it’s important.

The stats are in

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), studies show that one in five women is sexually assaulted while in college. In a recent college study by Krebs and colleagues, it was found that college women, are disproportionately raped by men, when compared to their non-college peers and the general population. Often, it’s by someone they know.

Not only does sexual assault occur with women, but it happens to men too. One in sixteen men are sexually assaulted while in college, according to the NSVRC .

Among undergraduate students, 23.1 percent of females and 5.4 percent of males experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation. Also, 4.2% of students have experienced stalking since entering college, as stated by RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization.

Lastly, NSVRC’s study claimed that more than 90 percent of sexual assault victims on college campuses do not report the assault, and 63.3 percent of men who self-reported acts that qualified as rape or attempted rape admitted to committing repeat rapes.

The statistics from these organizations are too high. Something needs to change. The percentage of sexual assault on campuses should be non-existent. College should be a fun learning environment where everyone should be safe and not worry about being assaulted. College students have the right to go out and party without worrying if something bad will happen to them. Therefore, some colleges like Temple University are finding ways to prevent sexual assault on their campuses.  

A female’s voice

Temple sophomore Communications major Ekemini Stephen has her own opinion on what should be done to prevent sexual assault.

Stephen states, “Everyone should take it more seriously. I'm a realist, so I believe that there will always be murderers, thieves, and even rapists. It's not something we can completely eliminate. But if we punish offenders as severely as we punish offenders for other crimes, it'll definitely reduce.”

Stephen believes sexual assailants should be punished severely, so they can learn from their actions and never do it again.

“People get off sexual assault cases so easily sometimes, it's ridiculous. If people see that people who commit sexual assault are punished SEVERELY, cases will definitely reduce”, Stephen says.

She thinks most college’s disciplinary boards should handle sexual assault seriously, as it should be handled in general. She states that the perfect punishment for sexual assault in colleges is expulsion and the offenders should go to jail for a long time.

“When people see that these offenders are being punished severely, it'll encourage victims to speak up because they know justice will be served,” answers Stephen.

“Lastly, for the prevention, well I think Temple does a pretty good job in these aspects, with the security all around campus that walk you home if you want.”

She says security is very important and there should be emergency points/spots all around campus. So, if someone is in trouble, they can try and get help from the nearest police officer standing by at that time.

She states, “We should individually try and keep ourselves safe. Walk with one or more friends. People are prone to be attacked when they're walking alone.” She thinks people should walk in pairs at night, especially if it’s late because it’s better to be safe than sorry in her opinion and anything could happen anytime/anywhere.

Raising Awareness

I agree with Stephen that students and people everywhere should be educated on sexual assault because many people don’t talk about it. That has to change because the less people are aware of it, the percentage rate for sexual assault is going up because no one is talking about it and coming up with ways to prevent it from happening.

College is meant to be safe. Parents want their children to go to a school where it’s safe and they know nothing will happen to them. Colleges and universities should have programs, where they talk about these issues in a comfortable environment, so that people will listen. They should discuss what is sexual assault, how to avoid it, where to get help, etc. Temple Student Government began an initiative this year an implemented a Sexual Assault Prevention Week at the beginning of the fall semester. Other universities should be following our example.

It’s important to educate males not to disrespect women and always be respectful to them because sometimes boys will make sexual jokes, where it can be taken too far and that’s not fine at all. Girls should be educated on the potential dangers of society in general. Being smart and careful is important, similar to what Stephen says. When girls and boys travel at night; go in groups or pairs.

Temple University offers a class called, “Self Defense For Women”. If girls want to feel more safe, then this class is perfect. The class teaches women how to defend themselves in any situation, especially in sexual assault situations. Other colleges and universities may offer self defense class for their female students too. People should carry pepper spray if they're in a dangerous area. Avoid taking alleyways even if it is a shortcut; take the main road because there will be more people. Also, people should always be aware of their surroundings.

The key things to remember is to be aware, be educated, be safe, and make smart decisions. Your body, your rules. It's not about what you were wearing. It's not about if you were drunk. It's about a person that committed a crime on your body. You are not to blame.