Sexual assault creates toxic environment

Imagine a world where a girl can walk to her dorm alone at night and arrive safely. A world where a girl could wear whatever she wants to class and not have to worry about someone gawking at her. A world where a girl can go to a college party and not be concerned about being taken advantage of.

 It is horrifying to know that we do not live in that world. I’m not sure where exactly society took the wrong turn down this path, where sexual assault became a common ordeal, but I think somewhere along the way we lost respect for each other and now future generations have to pay for it unless we do something. 

  Productions like the Vagina Monologues happening in March and programs on campus like Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) are outlets for women to become educated, receive help, and ultimately spread awareness about sexual assault that has affected themselves or someone they know.

Having resources like these are crucial, especially since we live in a society where we teach people how to protect against being raped instead of teaching people not to rape. That’s like telling people to constantly wear bulletproof vests instead of telling people to not shoot. 

We live in a society where we teach young girls that they have to change the way they dress, behave or their way of thinking in order to stay safe. If we’re going to teach women about safety, let’s teach men about consent. Everyone hears “no means no” but who actually listens? When a woman is sexually assaulted, society automatically looks at her to blame. 

“Well look at what she was wearing. She was asking for it. She was drunk.” Does that give the right to anyone to sexually assault her? I don’t think so. 

College alone can be a daunting experience and in this day and age it only seems to get scarier. Sexual assault is the most unreported crime across every CSU. It happens everyday around campus, in the classroom and at parties. 

Think about every woman that you know in college, friends and roommates, sorority sisters and teammates, and then think about the statistics. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) it is estimated that for every 1,000 women attending a college or university, there are 35 incidents of rape each academic year. Less than five percent of rape cases are reported because of fear or embarrassment. 

This isn’t to say that this only happens to women either. NSVRC reported in 2013 that about one in three gay men, one in five bisexual men and one in 10 heterosexual men reported experiencing unwanted sexual contact during their lifetime. Women continue to deal with this issue more often then men and our world is turning a blind eye. 

The simplest way to put it is: consent is approval, from beginning to end. The absence of “no” does not make the answer “yes.” Silence does not mean she’s ok with it. And intoxicated persuaded answers do not mean a thing. Just because she’s smiling doesn’t mean she wants to keep talking to you, doesn’t mean she wants you to touch her, and doesn’t mean she wants to have sex with you.

 If a woman says no, and she’s smiling, her answer is still no. That does not mean to try harder or give her more to drink to lower her inhabitations. A smile is not an invitation. Where has the respect gone? 

Sure some can argue that women dress the way they do for attention and they want people to look. But the last time I checked being confident and proud of what you have doesn’t mean a woman wants you to make advances or dirty gestures at her. 

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, tell someone. You are not alone and together we can make a change.