Even in the age of #MeToo, sexual assault occurs at unprecedented amounts on college campuses. And as a female college student, I can admit that it is a scary reality. As I read the Baylor Rape Case, I cringed, feeling all the fear, uncertainty, and anxiety that relates to these common situations. Too often are tragedies such as this a "normal" phenomenon on college campuses, but clearly, our society is not doing enough.
#MeToo was the way in which women across the country, and ultimately over the world, can initiate a conversation that has been avoided for far too long. Sexual assault has impacted all of these survivors who have joined together in solidarity, and their voices should be heard.
Yet, even #MeToo and #BelieveWomen cannot protect sexual assault survivors from injustice, and the Baylor Rape Case is the perfect example. Simply believing the testimony from an anonymous sophomore at Baylor University was not enough to guarantee that Jacob Anderson, her rapist, would receive some sort of criminal punishment. For those who still argue that "rape culture is not real" because of statistics which declare rape is at an "all-time low", do you realize that these facts and statistics that you cling to disregard cases of rape and sexual assault that go unreported? And do you understand, after a case such as the Baylor Rape Case, that even when a woman courageously confronts her rapist in court, it is not enough to put him behind bars. Hashtags like #MeToo and #BelieveWomen do not guarantee justice, but a just legal system will.
When sexual predators like Jacob Anderson get to walk away free with a "slap on the wrist" and his victim's life is forever changed, that is not justice...that is outright sexism. Justice does not work in favor of the rapist, and the legal system should not work towards protecting rapists like Anderson. He is an adult who should be held responsible for his actions, an adult who should face the consequences of taking away another woman's virginity by violently and cruelly taking advantage of her. And by pure assumption, this is probably not the first time that Anderson has been predatory towards women at other fraternity parties. Yet, the justice system proves time and time again that men like Anderson's "lives will not be ruined" based on a "silly mistake in college".
Attributing sexual assault as a "silly college mistake" is not only repulsive but wrong on so many levels. Rape is possibly the most despicable crime that one can commit. And if Anderson chose to do this despicable act, then maybe his life deserves to be ruined. In the same way, when an individual kills someone, they become labeled as a murderer. How come the effect of rape and the labeling of rapists is downplayed, especially when they are college-aged, white men who are the perpetrators? If you commit rape, you are a rapist, and you deserve a harsh sentence. A couple hundred dollars, months of probation, and "counseling" will not prohibit predators like Anderson from the next assault, especially if he knows that he can get away with it.
So, maybe #BelievingWomen is not enough to protect women from relying on the criminal justice system to lock away their rapists. As you can tell, this is why "rape culture" does not show on many graphs that detail recent rape reports in recent years. If building up the strength to report their rapist, coming face-to-face with them in court, witnessing your rapist plead guilty yet receive no serious consequences, I can only imagine how this will affect other survivors who are impacted by some sort of sexual abuse.
Will survivors be as inclined to speak up and proudly say, "Me Too"?
Where are we supposed to go when a criminal justice system has failed us? Because as we can see, #MeToo and #BelieveWomen are simply not enough.