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Normalization of rape culture on college campuses

Normalization of rape culture on college campuses

Normalization of rape culture on college campuses
August 06
11:19 2020

Rape culture has become increasingly normalized in American society. Rape culture exists when sexual violence becomes normalized and excused in society. Traits of rape culture include objectifying women’s bodies, encouraging sexual aggression, condoning physical or emotional abuse and victim-blaming. One of the places in which rape culture continues to become normalized is on college campuses. Many college campuses today completely mishandle rape cases and have tendencies to downplay the severity of these situations. 

The mismanagement of rape cases by college administrations is primarily due to the public mindset that has been created and the negative stigma that surrounds law enforcement and the justice system when dealing with rape cases. This is not to justify the gross mismanagement of rape cases in colleges, but it is important to understand how rape culture outside of college campuses plays a factor in perception and how administration deals with them once they occur by a college student or on campus grounds. Society has conditioned many individuals to think what the state of the victim was before and during in which the sexual assault occurred. Society tends to question whether or not the victim was intoxicated or if they were dressed in a way that could’ve “provoked” for that incident to happen. 

Individuals need to stop associating sexual violence with drunken mistakes. Sexual violence deals with power, control and the need to feel dominance. Victim blaming normalizes rape culture and contributes to victims not wanting to report these incidents. Something we should all ask ourselves is why are we so quick to believe a victim of other crimes such as robbery, but we are always skeptical of sexual assault victims. Many students on college campuses are becoming increasingly desensitized to rape culture. 

College administrations handle rape cases very poorly and often times leave victims to find ways to protect themselves. Abusers and rapists are often not held responsible and suffer little to no consequences. By suspending the abuser/rapist for one semester and allowing them to come back after this suspension is not a proper solution to the rape case itself and to diminishing the normalization of rape culture on campus. 

Sexual assaults on college campuses are increasing each year. A study conducted by The Association of American Universities found that 26 percent of undergraduate women, 7 percent of undergraduate men and 23 percent of those who identify as transgender, genderqueer or nonbinary have reported having been victims of nonconsensual contact by physical force or lack of consent. Studies have also shown that fraternity men are three times more likely to commit an act of sexual assault than those who are not involved in Greek life. This can be in part due to the social status Greek life represents and it is easier to dominate and control those who are new to campus life. 

Given how prevalent the issue of sexual assault is on college campuses, the administration of these universities has an important role when it comes to addressing the problem. The Department of Education, alongside the federal government, has threatened universities to take away Title IX funding if universities are unable to deal with sexual assault cases themselves. This is a problem because most universities do not properly handle these cases. Thus, most victims feel a sense of hopelessness and despair since ultimately they are the ones who have to figure out whether they want to continue attending that campus and face potential triggering reminders of that incident or if they should transfer to another university. 

Universities consistently create programs and hold trainings that educate others on sexual assault and what to do if you witness it happening or how to report a sexual assault incident yet sexual assaults on campuses continue to increase. This goes to show that the administrations of universities need to begin to take more action than just providing students and employees modules to complete as part of training or awareness. Administrations need to begin to hold abusers/rapists accountable by giving them reasonable consequences that match up to the actions these individuals committed. By suspending an individual from attending the university for a semester and allowing them to come back afterward is a slap on the wrist. 

In order to get rid of rape culture on college campuses, American society needs to get rid of victim-blaming culture and provide more proper education on what sexual assault is, the many things it consists of and who it can impact. Universities should also get serious about this issue and work for the safety of the victims instead of constantly worrying about their public image as a university. Sexual assault cases can be complex but this does not mean that finding solutions are unattainable, and if we want to see rape culture be eradicated on college campuses we must begin to hold abusers/rapists accountable for their actions.

Featured illustration by Miranda Thomas

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Eunice Hernandez

Eunice Hernandez

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