Sexual assault is a disturbing, but prevalent, topic amongst college students. According to RAINN, the nation’s largest anti sexual violence organization, college women between the ages of 18 and 24 are three times more likely to be sexually assaulted. What is even more disturbing is that 90 percent of adult rape victims are female, leaving 10 percent male. The University of Michigan Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center released the statistic that “Nearly 99% of sex offenders in single-victim incidents were male and 6 in 10 were white (Greenfeld, 1997).”
The gender gap between these statistics is extraordinary but raises the question of how. How is it that sexual assault among women is still such a pervasive issue within this new generation? How is it that over a hundred years after the women suffrage movement, which raised the discussion of rights and equality for women, women are still experiencing discrimination, abuse, and intimidation? After much reflection, I’ve come up with the best explanation possible- a lack of education.
Specifically, a lack of education amongst men.
The statistics speak for themselves. Men are the ones assaulting most of the women (and a small percentage of other men) in this country. However, what baffles me is how although MEN are assaulting WOMEN, WOMEN are the majority group being educated about this subject. Let us explore this concept.
I attended an all-girls Catholic high school, and from the moment of entry to the moment of graduation, sexual abuse, consent, and protection was discussed in detail from secular and religious aspects. We were taught to remain abstinent and told dressing conservatively would avoid provoking any unwanted sexual attention. We were given seminars on how to protect ourselves from predators, learning swift self-defense moves to deflect violence. We also investigated the issue of consent in detail and watched countless documentaries on what consent meant and how to ensure every sexual encounter we meet in the future is a safe one. Now, this is a thorough way of educating the young and impressionable minds of girls, but there is a slight problem. Pause and reflect. Do you see a glaring problem here?
If you haven’t figured it out by now, allow me. The problem is, that although an education of sex and abuse is more than necessary in our maturing into young ladies, we are not the problem. Out of the majority, MEN are the ones assaulting WOMEN. Why don’t we stop focusing our attention on how to avoid sexual assault, and focus our attention on teaching these young MEN NOT to sexually assault us WOMEN.
To dive more into the issue, I interviewed two friends who attended my brother all- boys high school. Through various questions, I collected the information that the sex education they received on a monthly basis was occasional. There was little detail on the anatomy of sex and how to go about it in safe and consensual ways. The discussion of abuse and the ethics of rape was also discussed seldom to none. (Interesting, because statistically, those are the men that are predicted to abuse and assault us women)! Additionally, when I asked if the boys were satisfied with the education they received they both responded no. There you have it folks, their words not mine! To take this outside of single sexed education let us move to college level sex ed.
Upon arrival at Syracuse University, a night dedicated to hearing the stories of sexual assault survivors was mandatory for all girls and boys in addition to completing a sexual assault course online (which by the way, almost everyone scammed their way through completion). The second semester, an event called Take Back the Night, was another event held to stand against sexual assault. All of the schools Greek Life was invited to attend (AKA a combined 30 Sororities and Fraternities). Almost every Sorority made it mandatory for each member (girl) to attend, however, with north of 12 sororities in attendance can you guess how many fraternities showed up?
The answer is: One
That’s right, ONE fraternity had all members (boys) attend this meeting. The irony kills! Especially since this specific fraternity in attendance was already facing a variety of sexual assault allegations and is on the fence of being banished from the school!
We as a society need to educate the men who will soon turn into leaders, public figures, and fathers. We cannot live in a world where women are taught to live in avoid and protect from these atrocities. Let us move to teach these young men the ethics of sex in high school sex ed. classes. To teach them respect and humanity. Let’s attack this problem from the root so in time girls don’t need to walk on a street and be afraid that their choice of skirt or pants could provoke a sexual attack.
I think I’ve made my point clear.