Abby Callaghan, Contibutor
We live in a world where people think rape is inevitable, so they wind up teaching women not to get raped instead of teaching men not to rape. A 2010 study by the Centers for Disease Control found that one in five women are raped in their lifetime in the United States – almost 22 million women – and one in 71 men are raped, or approximately 1.6 million men.
Rape culture is when a society is bombarded with media, jokes and stories that validate rape myths and excuse them. Rape culture includes blaming the victim for the crime, sexual objectification and treating rape as if it’s “just something that happens.”
It’s like no matter where I turn there are stories about girls getting sexually assaulted, and then I turn on the news and the anchors are taking the wrong side. They often feel sorry for the “poor boys” who are losing scholarships and getting kicked off football teams because they’ve been accused of rape. But what about the girls who they’re raping? Do they get any sympathy? Not really.
At Lewis, Dr. Tracey Nicholls, co-director of the women’s studies program, founded the Love Your Body group with a few students earlier this year. The group meets to further awareness on campus by discussing the need for greater self-esteem, greater respect for others and a more positive body image.
“All of us as community members have the responsibility to reduce the risk that someone in our community might be harmed,” Nicholls said, “and the best way to take up that responsibility is to look out for each other. Assaultive and abusive behavior is often an escalating phenomenon, and stepping in early can prevent a lot of it.”
The concept of saying “no” puts the burden on the victim. Enthusiastic consent is simple. While “no means no” is important, getting a “yes” is even more important. A partner who is not resisting but otherwise not saying anything at all, is not giving enthusiastic consent.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE. And if you’re looking for an outlet, or people who understand where you’re coming from, contact Nicholls for more information about the Love Your Body group.