CONTENT WARNING: The following article deals with sexual assault (specifically on college campuses and includes references to current events) and victim blaming. Names of individuals and institutions have been removed due to the nature of the article. There are no graphic details used in this piece.
An article was recently released that detailed what fraternity men were doing incorrectly in the fight against sexual assault and provided a list of steps that they could take to set themselves on the right path. The article, while meaning well, boiled down to subtly attacking fraternity men and spawned a series of antagonistic responses going after “frat boys” for being the main perpetrators of sexual assault on college campuses. Given that one of the largest sexual assault scandals in recent memory revolves around a college athletic program, this stereotype is a little outdated. The truth of the matter is that EVERYONE needs to be doing more to prevent sexual assault in our communities, so here’s a list of things we all can do to help.
STOP THE BLAME GAME
Say it with me “THE ONLY THING THAT CAUSES RAPE IS A RAPIST”.
The victim isn’t to blame. The rapist’s ethnic background isn’t to blame. The victim’s outfit isn’t to blame. The group the rapist is affiliated with isn’t to blame. The victim’s level of intoxication isn’t to blame. Whenever a new story about a sexual assault comes out, fingers are immediately pointed. Why do we need to blame a group when we have a perpetrator? Doing this only divides people who are, more times than not, on the same side. Furthermore, we’re living in a time where stereotyping people is one of the biggest social issues that people are fighting against, yet we still stereotype those involved in a sexual assault? Its 2017, grow up.
One point from the previously mentioned article I’ll agree with is that change comes from within. You can’t go around preaching about an end to sexual violence and then make rape jokes with your friends. That’s not how it works. Dark humor is one thing, but some things you just don’t joke about. And that goes for your friends too. If you hear them saying something dumb, call them out on it. As a society, I think we’ve become frighteningly desensitized to jokes involving sexual assault. Don’t believe me? How often do you hear “Don’t drop the soap” when talking about someone going to jail? Is rape acceptable when it happens to criminals? There used to be a show called Oz on HBO. It was about the daily occurrences in a prison that made Orange Is The New Black look like Sesame Street. Apart from the prison violence, the corruption and the drugs, they depicted sexual assault by prisoners on their weaker cellmates. These scenes were fairly graphic and I don’t recommend any survivors battling trauma to watch them, but if you’re one of those people who laugh at the thought of people going to prison and getting raped, take a look and tell me if it’s still funny.
JUST DO SOMETHING
These days it is SO easy to get lost behind a keyboard. Click “Like”, share a link, make a status and BOOM you’re a supporter. But what if I told you that isn’t enough? Sure raising awareness is great but what does that REALLY do? Don’t get me wrong, I’ve fallen into the same trap of “oh I’m raising awareness, I’ve done my part”. But supporting a cause means sometimes stepping out from behind that computer screen and getting involved. For example, there’s shelters that need help and supplies. Don’t have the time to physically be there and lend a hand? Donate. Don’t have the funds to donate? Start a donation campaign with the proceeds going to a LOCAL shelter. National projects are great but the smaller, localized projects are the ones that need the most help. Trust me, between work, school and other obligations, not everyone has time to go volunteer at a shelter, and maybe all you can do is show support online. But even then, there’s more ways to get involved. Listen to survivors, hear and share their stories, create a project or forum for people to come together. There are so many ways to help a cause that do so much more than a simple retweet will do.
At the end of the day, there is no single group responsible for stopping sexual assault. We all need to be in this fight together. Stop being divisive and let’s get a handle on this epidemic.