by Julia Woods, student staff
Sexual assaults are a hot topic on the CU Boulder campus, lately.
Outside of social-justice-minded circles, you don’t really hear much discussion about rape culture. But even if the words aren’t explicitly stated—even if it’s easy to turn a blind eye—we can’t deny that as a society, many of our dominant U.S. values support the domination of other people—and in doing so, we normalize sexual assault.
Rape culture is so alive and well that we do not expend any time or energy on the rapists themselves—after all, boys will be boys. Women make up the vast majority of sexual assault victims and only a tiny fraction of the perpetrators—and yet for some reason, we see fit to funnel our disdainful warnings upon women, and not the men who actually commit sexual assaults. As women, the message we get is always the same—“Rape is an inevitable danger, so don’t put yourself at risk. No one is going to protect you but you—don’t dress ‘provocatively,’ don’t walk by yourself late at night, stay sober, keep pepper spray in your purse, and invest in a self-defense class.” Rarely do we ever hear, “Men, do not rape women. It is your responsibility to prevent yourself from sexually assaulting other people. If you rape someone, these are the legal and social consequences that will befall you.” Because, if we’re being honest, there aren’t too many legal or social consequences… we just accept rape as an awful thing that men do to women from time to time.
As a woman-identified student, this is extremely frustrating. Why is it that rape is so engrained in the booze and bass of college party life—and in life in the US, as a whole? I feel like I’m trapped in twisted time-warp universe, where our attitudes about sex and gender fail to discourage sexual violence—instead they endorse it. It’s 2013—why does our culture still insist on operating under that formula that man equals dominator, woman equals dominated? And what if we changed this paradigm—how would that affect rape culture?