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On Rape Culture

    When an incident of sexual misconduct occurs on a college campus, certain assumptions are often made. We tend to assume that a victim had more power than they exercised to stop the aggressor. We tend to make judgments about the truthfulness of the victim’s statement. If you have ever browsed social media after such an event has occurred, you will know that it is common for an apologist to step forward defending the aggressor, even though they might not have known them or the situation. Far too often, the victim ends up being villainized for making a small situation bigger than a certain subset of the populace thinks it should have been. This reaction makes it harder for further incidents to be reported because victims don't think they will be taken seriously.

Unfortunately, this is more than just an issue of procedure on campus or general education: this is an inherent bias that many people carry with them, a product of a narrative so prevalent in society that it has even made news at the judicial level with defendants like Brock Turner receiving a sentence that many found to be substantially underwhelming. Systemically, a large percentage of people just don't seem to think that date rape is a serious cultural problem. Perhaps these people haven't had a close friend or family member affected by this crime. I can imagine that such personal ignorance would contribute to a greater cultural problem, but I feel that something more active might be contributing to this issue.

When young men and women arrive to university for the first time, they dream of high academic success to prepare them for a wonderful career. In addition, many students are looking to join the “dating game,” either to find some current companionship or for more life-oriented reasons. As the students begin to mingle, they get excited at the prospect of no longer being lonely and natural instincts that coincide with love and affection begin to occur more frequently. This is all normal: we are looking for soulmates with whom we share an attraction that is physical, mental and spiritual.

Unfortunately, due to personal instruction from unsavory mentors or the media's portrayal of sex as an essential drug, a certain percentage of the population will begin to view this attraction as the precursor to a sexual event which they have the right to actualize on their own terms. This is where we break away from normal human interaction into the realm of the hurtful. We assume that other people's rights are our own, and then we subsequently abuse them. When this becomes the cultural norm on a campus, the system can very easily break down into chaos, harming many people in the process.

The answer to this problem is very simple: treat other people with respect. Never look at a human as an object, but instead as a person with whom you can extend your humanity. Not only will you improve your life, but you will also contribute to fixing a systemic problem.

 

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