Ask Andy: Sexual Assault on Campus

Her Campus at the University of Michigan now has an 'Ask Andy' section. Readers, please feel free to use this Google Form to ask any question you'd like answered from a male's perspective and your question might be published. Today, Andy is answering: 

What is your definition of feminism?

Equality—but not just equality between men and women. Equality between all women and genders despite race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and a million other factors that can’t be articulated.

1 in 4 women experience sexual assault on campus. How can men on campus be stronger advocates for sexual assault awareness/protection?

I’m pretty sure the vast majority of men on campus would agree that sexual assault is “bad.” But that’s the issue—few men have thought about the issue deeply enough to classify it as any adjective beyond just “bad.” This is what happens when someone is most likely not at risk for something. But imagine it were your sister; she’s someone’s sister, anyway. The issue is not one of ideology but one of indifference. And when a guy becomes that indifferent, even if he never intends for it to happen, he could find himself the one committing assault without even knowing it. Classifying oneself as a supporter of a cause does not necessarily help it. More men on campus need to take accountability for the fact that they themselves could be the person they never thought they would become: someone who, whether purposeful or not, has committed sexual assault. Saying that it is “bad” and “should be stopped” does not in any way grant one immunity.

Although definitely not the whole answer, education is part of it. If I were to guess, I would say that a large percentage of men on campus do not understand the nuance of the term “rape”—that it does not only occur when someone blatantly disagrees to sex, but also when someone offers no clear, verbal consent. While University-sponsored efforts have somewhat helped in this regard, the issue comes back to sexual assault’s best friend: indifference. So the answer is unfortunately not a quick-fix but a sentiment that must be cultivated for generations and generations and still probably never be fixed completely. In short, men need to stop saying that they care and instead, well, actually care.  

Want to talk to someone about sexual assault on campus? Contact SAPAC here or at (734) 764-7771

Images courtesy of: Emily Munch