Rape Culture on College Campuses
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Student Life

Rape Culture on College Campuses

One in four women on a college campus experience sexual assault.

Rape Culture on College Campuses
NBC News

Coming into college, we had all heard the statistic that one in four women on a college campus experience sexual assault. While it is something that we were all aware of, I distinctly remember being told by multiple upperclassmen that they only a handful of sexual assaults occur each year and that I didn’t need to worry. On the contrary, within my first four months of college I had already received more than a handful of sexual assault alerts.

I was shocked purely by the amount of sexual assault that occurred, but we must also consider that most assaults are not even reported to law enforcement. With these alerts becoming so common, and the actual assaults being even more common, students do not seem to be shocked to hear when a sexual assault has occurred, and thus begins the college rape culture.

Rape culture is defined as a culture in which society normalizes sexual violence or people assume that sexual violence is simply inevitable. Rape culture is perpetuated by jokes, television shows, music, and even advertisements. Rape culture is our culture today, and even more so on college campuses. In fact, those living on-campus in dorms are more likely to become victims of sexual assault than those who live off campus. Many people want to turn the term “rape culture” into a dirty term created by feminists. It is simply wrong, though, to pretend that this is not the culture that we live in. We do live in a culture that normalizes sexual aggression from males, catcalling, rape jokes, and victim blaming.

I never expected to learn that so many college students do not acknowledge rape culture as a real issue, or just don’t view it as something that would ever affect them. I was also shocked to hear that even those that recognized the sexual assault problems in the world, and especially on college campuses, would still argue that rape jokes do not add to this rape culture and that rape jokes do not create rapists. Rape jokes do, however, blur the lines for what constitutes consent. Rape jokes do teach men that sexual aggression is acceptable. Rape jokes do portray catcalling as harmless. Rape jokes do allow us to become comfortable with blaming victims. And one of the most important things to consider when you make a rape joke is that if every 98 seconds another person in America is sexually assaulted then it is very possible, and even probable, that you are making a joke around someone who has had traumatic sexual assault experiences.

While rape culture is prevalent throughout all of today’s society, college campuses are definitely hubs of this normalization of sexual assault. Some say that the problem on college campuses is not a sex problem or an assault problem, but simply a drinking problem. This is rape culture. When we tell people, primarily women, not to drink too much because that is what leads to rape, we are teaching that intoxication equals consent. Drinking alcohol is in no way equivalent to agreeing to a sexual encounter.

This is the perfect example of rape culture – when society blames the victims of sexual assault for their actions instead of blaming those who are committing the assault. Because of this culture, nearly one third of male college students said that they would have sex with an unwilling person if they believed they could get away with it. Not only this, but because of the normalization of these assaults, a large majority of college men that committed rapes do not believe that what they did is considered rape.

Chris Taylor wrote in an article addressed to fathers, “Rape culture is a thing. I'm sorry if you bristle at that notion, guys, but it just is. Any time you put the onus on our daughters — don't wear that dress, don't get drunk, don't lead guys on — you're perpetuating it.”

This culture is present all throughout our country today, but especially among college students. Don’t assume that the girls walking around in short skirts are asking for it. Don’t look at everyone going into a party and assume that they want sex. Don’t view alcohol consumption as consent. Fellow college students, I’m basically just asking you to remember that every time you make a joke, catcall someone, blame victims, or normalize sexual aggression you are perpetuating rape culture.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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