By Becky Killian, Junior, Urban Affairs major in College of Arts and Sciences
Presentations concerning sexual assault frustrate me. The audience at these “dialogues” is always defensive and, at the end, the spoiler that a heavily intoxicated victim cannot give consent always proves to be subject for debate. While this reaction points out significant societal problems, it also necessitates that these “educational tactics” need to be reevaluated.
My problem with sexual assault presentations is that they separate, rather than unite a community. By presenting a complex, serious problem in a hetero-normative, sex-specific fashion in which men are always the perpetrators and women always the victims, we force people into camps where their statements will be recognized as either “anti-woman” or “anti-man,” instead of simply “anti-victim.”
These presentations need to cease being a chance to defend or criminalize a given sex, and instead concern humanizing all people until we do not inflict sexual harm. Our campus needs to understand that cases of sexual assault should not divide men and women, but should be met with joint outrage.
To do this, we need to stop saying, “Think if this happened to your daughter or sister,” and instead say, “Think if this happened to your daughter or son, sister or brother.” Limiting the havoc of sexual victimization to one sex is detrimental to understanding it as a crime on human beings, not just women at the hands of heterosexual men. Rape can be experienced by both men and women, regardless of their sexuality. A rapist is no less a rapist for harming the sexual dignity of a man, and a woman who pushes the sexual boundaries of her boyfriend is no less a rapist than a woman who takes advantage of her girlfriend.
Only when we can present sexual crimes as a human problem will we see true dialogue and growth.