We Are Becoming Immune To Rape Because Of Our Culture, That's NOT OK

We Are Becoming Immune To Rape Because Of Our Culture, That's NOT OK

Our world is becoming increasingly dangerous.

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It's time to recognize the culture we live in. I'm not talking about political culture or our cultural differences. I'm referring to the rape culture that we all promote whether we acknowledge it or not. We are a point in society where women are finally standing up and voicing the harassment and assault they have faced, and we are fortunate that consent is being a topic of conversation all over college campuses. But are we recognizing these strives and deciding that all of those things are enough?

Is talking about sexual assault and rape enough to prevent it from happening? Is one girl coming forward with her story enough to stop the culture we live in?

No. It's simply not enough, and we are all part of that problem. For example, if a girl comes forward at a college party and says she was sexually assaulted, are girls going to continue to go to that same party the next weekend without fear? Of course, they are. This is because while we recognize that rape is awful and shouldn't happen, we have become immune to it.

We hear the word rape or sexual assault, and instead of that immediate sick feeling everyone should naturally get, we just hear it and feel no reaction because it has become such a common thing. It's is something that we hear about so often that when we hear it, the significance does not register. Rape has become normalized.

Still not getting it? How do you feel when you hear about a random homicide on the news? I doubt you think about that homicide whenever you visit the city where it took place. I doubt you even think of that person for more than a second of the day. We are beginning to do the same thing with rape and sexual assault.

We cannot afford to become a society where this is okay. We cannot be okay with the normalization of rape. It is not right for us to only care when we know the person affected or when it is us. We should not live in a world where we dictate what matters strictly upon our own connections. A world where we think like that is a world where sexual assault prevails and rapists win.

We can't afford to be immune to sexual assault. We can't become complacent and satisfied with where we are now in regard to this issue. We need to keep progressing and fighting for a world where this isn't something anyone fears. Blocking out commentary on sexual assault is a simple disservice and endangerment to society.

While not to discredit the progress we have made, it is so important not to turn a blind eye to the problem at hand. As a society, we owe it to the victims, who bravely spoke out, to listen and not ignore their story. Those who feel any differently need to take a long, hard look in the mirror because they are part of the problem too.

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Just Because You Can Throw A Ball Does Not Mean Your Rape Is Admissible

Why are university athletes more likely to commit sexual assault?

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I wish rape didn't seep into every sphere of my life. But, like ink, it has.

Interpersonally, my childhood friend was gang-raped by members of the University of North Texas basketball team. As uncovered in an investigation, her circumstances were not isolated, unlike what it says in UNT's initial statement. I am proud to know my friend. I am proud to stand with her. However, I am ashamed at the situation and the commonness of her suffering among students just like me, on college campuses.

Politically, Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education, promotes new fortifications for students accused of sexual assault. Basically, the rules would reduce the legal classification of harassment while offering protections for those accused of wrongdoing. In my emotions, I firmly believe in the American ideal of being "innocent until proven guilty". However, even in a crime so entrenched in emotions, I must look at facts. Facts say that the falsification rate of rape is the same as most other crimes, somewhere around 5%. Therefore, I believe that DeVos' proposal would tilt investigations in favor of the committer and significantly lessen the number of victims who would have the assurance to come forward and tell his/her story. In a campus-setting, where 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men are sexually assaulted, her "solution" adds gasoline to a country-wide fire.

Educationally, Brock Turner, a swimmer at Stanford University received just six months in county jail after being found guilty of five felonies, all of which amount to him raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. In defense of the light sentence, the judge said, "the more time (Turner spends) in jail, the more severe impact" on his future, who wanted to go to the Olympics. Never mind the future of the victim.

First off, rape culture, a sociological concept in which sexual assault is pervasive and normalized, exists. And while it exists everywhere, I can only speak with any authority on the campus setting, where hook-up culture is both catalyzed and camouflaged. Here, the area that needs the most treatment is in the locker room, on the court, or on the field.

Student athletes are proportionally the greatest perpetrators of sexual misconduct.

While a tiny 3% of male students are athletes, male student athletes are responsible for almost a fifth of sexual assaults on campus. And that is just the events that are reported, (just so you know, about 3 out of 4 go unreported). However, the NCAA has no policy that lessens a student's athletic eligibility in the face of sexually violent behavioral patterns. If you have allowed these numbers to simmer in your mind, you can see that this is unacceptable.

Why are university athletes more likely to commit sexual assault?

Most experts make cultural and institutional arguments.

Culturally, student athletes are not seen as "normal" students – rather, they provide a service to the college. Where most students get something from the college, student athletes give to the college, and we should be so lucky to have them grace us with their presence. It is a part of the status quo: high-status students on campus are athletes, especially males who play the most popular sports, like football, basketball, or baseball. These students carry social privilege.

Obviously, athletes are not naturally ethically worse than other students. I am simply saying that absolutely no one is immune to the culture that surrounds him/her, and we have a weird culture.

On average, athletes are more likely than other students on campus to buy into the cross-cultural concept of robust masculinity, which, in extreme cases, can lead to increased sexual aggression. Don't just take it from a non-athlete like me. Even Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, an NBA champion and a former UCLA basketball player, declared the cultural privilege from which he benefited.

"I'm especially aware of the culture of entitlement that athletes feel... they strut around campus with the belief that they can do no wrong."

I am not going to sugarcoat the point that we all know well: football players are comparable to celebrities on campus, which has dangerous implications for a certain untouchability in mindsets.

Institutionally, colleges are as inclined to protect the perpetrator over non-athletic peers. A Senate report concluded that administrators tend to do three actions to protect their athletes, and therefore, their brand.

1. Higher-ups at the school discourage victims from reporting to police outside of the university. In this method, they let the campus police "handle it" and not report to less-biased city forces.

2. Admins downplay an assault's severity, making it less 'criminal', more unintentional and of an event to "move on from".

3. The athletic department can work with the administration and strategically delay proceedings while athletes finish their season.

If these three things are not enough as far as systemic ethical transgressions go, when athletes are found responsible for sexual assault, they may face small consequences.

Just to pull an infamous example from my home state of Texas, Baylor University continues to wrestle with how to deal with battery; I don't need to go over the sheer amount of claims that they were conscious and compliant to most allegations of assault involving their student-athletes.

So, not only is our mindset messed up, but the administration who is supposed to protect us is similarly bungled.

Obviously, athletes are not bad people, only people that are subject to their environment and protected by their talent. But crime is crime. The unnamed victim of Brock Turner said it well as she argued that being "an athlete at a university should not be an entitlement to leniency, but an opportunity to send a message that sexual assault is against the law" no matter your status.

Throwing a ball does not make someone above the rules.

Yes, I realize that my words have become trite. Scary articles, documentaries, and books about the sheer magnitude of sexual crime in college abound. But I see my seemingly-repetitive diction more as a reflection of our fallen collegiate system, rather than of myself.

With my article, I only ask that you keep fighting for victims like my childhood friend, for the classmate who sits next to you in lecture, for yourself. This institutional and social discrepancy of "athletics above all else" happens at more universities than I had the breath to mention.

Your first step is taking a searing examination at the failure of American universities to grapple successfully with campus rape in the systematic pattern of protecting student athletes more than other students. The next steps follow naturally. Take part in the activism at your school, encourage survivors, and productively confront the problem. Fear not, the policies will change with your effort.

Politics aside, we are in a time for you to continue speaking the truth, even if your voice trembles.

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Being A Bystander Is Just As Bad As Being The Predator

To see the bystander effect in real life, watch "Surviving R. Kelly" and see how damaging it can be to relationships with friends and families and then get back to me.

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I will admit that I am late to the party of watching "Surviving R. Kelly" that premiered on Lifetime and if you're like me and late, let me fill you in. A docu-series consisting of six episodes (all very disturbing episodes) that recounts the abuse (physical, mental, and sexual) from multiple women who are openly sharing their stories of, well basically surviving ongoing abuse from R&B; singer, R. Kelly. The series features the survivors, old tour buddies, and old friends alike.

Many people in the docu-series said they recognized the predatory behavior that R. Kelly exhibited, like seeing underaged girls lounging around the studio or having girls sent to his house in private.

Demetrius Smith recalled that because he (and others) worked for him, they had to do whatever he wanted. A music executive said that he would see these girls and see that they looked young, but he never bothered to ask how old they were or even ask for identification. His ex-wife (and survivor) Andrea Kelly made a good point by saying that he had to have people helping him because he was too busy doing video shoots and recording songs for his albums. Musician Sparkle recounted an executive saying that he didn't care that R. Kelly was on a tape (that featured him doing repulsive things to a minor who just so happened to be her niece), he, being R. Kelly, was too expensive to lose.

Just by hearing these things, I saw that he surrounded himself with people who chose to not intervene and watched these girls, who were as young as 12 years old at the time, be abused by a man twice their age and nobody bothered to check him; nobody bothered to help these children.

I don't know about you, but that makes my stomach turn over and I get sick thinking about how grown-ups are enabling this to happen - how grown-ups are abetting human trafficking.

In my opinion, they are just as sick as R. Kelly.

If they had spoken up, multiple girls would be at home with their parents - in a loving and caring environment - and not in a prison cell waiting to be abused. They wouldn't have to worry about when they would eat next or hold their inner fluids because they were told when to go to the restroom (which just so happened to be a bucket in the corner of the room). They don't get how dehumanizing that makes a person feel because I felt like crap watching these women talk about their experience. I got so upset at one part of hearing how the employees and friends would turn a blind eye that I had to get up and walk away from the television. Needless to say, I am disgusted by not only R. Kelly's actions, but the people who helped him run his cult - his prison.

The bystander effect is real and it happens far too often, not just in the cases of R. Kelly.

People witness abuse every day and choose to say nothing (not believing someone is also enabling the behavior, just FYI). People dismiss stories and accounts of abuse daily and that's why so many live in fear, stay silent, and suffer alone. If there is a group of four or more people around someone who is being abused (or know someone who is being abused), the likeliness of them stepping in and helping is 31%. I don't know about you, but those numbers are far too low for only four or more people to intervene.

You can have as many self-defense classes as you want or implement Good Samaritan laws, that does not change the fact that far too many cover abuse or enable the continuation of abuse. People blame the victims for putting up with the abuse, but it's not as easy as packing a bag and walking away. There is a psychological block that they feel (especially if they have children) that prevents them from leaving. Statistics show that it takes a woman up to 7 times to finally leave an abuser. The bystander effect is real and it's a problem. Being a bystander may be the equivalent to being the abuser; you do nothing, say nothing, and allow for someone to be hurt repeatedly.

Help bring an end to abuse and contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY).

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