Rape Culture at Universities
Rape culture exists when alcohol, youths, and nightlife mix. Awful attempt to try and make this specific to educational establishments, rather than a justifiable stab at society as a whole. We tell young men that they are judged by their sexual prowess. They need to have as much sex as possible. We tell them they can expect lots of sex at university. They get drunk. Some of them are idiots with no empathy for others. What is the problem at root? To me it is the over-sexualisation of everything… driven by the principle that sex is just another commodity to be sold. No wonder people so other people simply as objects. Honestly, I blame the uncontrolled rise in drinking culture that has led to “rape culture” becoming a thing in the first place. Drinking culture needs addressing more than rape culture does, as one does not exist without the other, especially not within the context of the article where heavy drinking has been involved on every occasion. There is also a horrible alcohol culture in our universities. I would advise any girl not to get involved with that.January 2014 report by US Govt cites that 1 in 5 US women are raped in their lifetime. President Obama just created a task force dedicated to combating campus rape in US. Let’s not bury uncomfortable facts and move on like its noting major. Speaking as a young, straight man I imagine that these are the major factors contributing to the rise in the sorts of attitudes described in the article. Certainly the portrayal of university life in shows like Fresh Meat is a disgrace. Heavy drinking, serious drug abuse and extreme promiscuity are portrayed as funny, desirable and without negative consequences. Children have been and continue to be exposed to explicit sexual material. As a society we have divorced sex from love and affection and made both male and female into objects for voyeuristic pleasure. All of this is now allied to a hedonistic culture that promotes the only good as being self gratification. Can we really be surprised that rape and sexual abuse appears to be increasing. I believe this uni culture is part of a broader culture which as a society we have always cherished. There is a persistence of rape culture in university social life. Addressing the drinking culture would solve many of society’s ills. Surely it would be better all round to tackle the drinking problem at universities. I am in no way laying blame on women when I say this, no one ‘deserves’ or is encouraging someone to take advantage of them by being drunk, however if you’re not so drunk you can’t remember what happened the night before then it is less likely that you will be in this position. And yes, we should all be free to enjoy ourselves without fear of someone taking advantage, but as a short term measure not being wasted is probably quite effective. Plus, in hindsight, if I had been less hangover at uni I might have gone to more lectures and actually got more out of my degree, just a thought… Lets be honest 18 year olds going off to university are children. They have never had that kind of freedom. Expecting them to go from living in a house with rules to being independent well adjusted adults is just not going to happen. University’s need to implement a rule structure around conduct. Only basic stuff, no naked streaking no relieving yourself in the street etc. Things which you think people would be able to work out for themselves and yet…. Alcohol…3 times more harmful to society than heroin (government study 2010/11).
I think it has to do with the way children are brought up now. So many go to university and don’t know how to do laundry or even cook a pizza. One girl in halls even set fire to her kitchen when she cooked a baked potato in the microwave with foil on. Children are not given enough responsibility as a result they leave home and suddenly have a pocket full of money and no one to tell them no. When you left home if you did not work hard you wouldn’t have a roof over your head. students don’t have those sorts of worries. If young men are going to university with that attitude then I blame the parents for not bringing these boys up correctly, of course by 18 you would hope these boys would have learnt something about the world already, they are supposed to be the smart ones they are at Uni for fucks sake. How many of these boys went to an all boys school compared to a mixed school, what attitudes have they been subjected to before arriving at university, how much is it the fault of the university Fresher’s party organisers (not freshers) i would expect that are responsible for this.
The level of freedom and individuality given to the students in university can allow these sorts of behaviours to happen, but that’s not to say that the universities should sort it out. With my awareness of the support systems in the institutions are that they are available to any victim and some go above and beyond. These ‘lads’ (not all of them) are bringing these ideas into the universities, they don’t just lose what ever morals they had in a few drunken nights out. That’s perhaps were the ‘culture of rape’ is rooted, girls are being taught over and over again ways to protect ourselves but where is the education for boys? Victims don’t go to the police because even the police victim blame. When someone mentions that they’ve been assaulted, it’s just shrugged off. Through a friend’s personal experience, because she kissed him that was classed as consent. Even though she had told him no several times, her case was dropped. If this is how rape is seen by the police, then what does society expect our generation to believe? While some universities warn women to protect themselves, few attempt to educate men about a woman’s right consciously to consent to sexual acts. If people arrive at uni unable to understand the definition of sexual consent then its probably asking a bit much for Universities to succeed where 18 years of parenting and schooling failed. University is a time of sexual experimentation where the majority of young people, both men and women, will have a few encounters they wish they hadn’t. They are newly away from home, learning to be independent and how to socialise in an adult environment. Most students will drink too much, spend too much and say/do stupid things which they’ll regret. Most will learn from those experiences and be better equipped for dealing with life events in the future. A recent article in the guardian talks about the high number of cases of sexual assault in the work place. Maybe we need to stop contextualising these events so much. Men have sexually intimidated/assaulted others around the globe for centuries. The university life style might encourage such behaviour, but to get to the root of the problem, we need to be addressing something much more fundamental. This isn’t to de-tract from the horrible things that happen to some women during their time at uni. But placing the blame solely on the heavy drinking and promiscuous life style of uni students is to focus on a few aggravating factors rather than the causes of such horrible events. I came home after my first term at Cambridge to many shocking stories about friends’ experiences at university. Almost all described how they had been sexually violated: some had had their drinks spiked, others had been taken advantage of while drunk, and one had been raped. Rape culture in our universities urgently needs to be addressed. Recently there has been wide spread coverage of sexual violence in India. Many articles/comments describe that the key reasons behind it all include lack of education and cultural subjugation of women. I am puzzled as to what could be reasons behind such behavior in supposed centers of educational excellence and of modern thought? If these universities and institutions which are supposed to be the guardians of modern liberal thought can not create and provide an environment where women feel safe..who can? One friend described her experience of being sexually assaulted in the toilets of a club. It was the second night of fresher’s week and she was out with her friends. She kissed a guy, but after a while tried to walk away. He followed her and pulled her to the toilets. He began to undo his trousers. She said no, but he was persistent. She was too drunk to move him physically out of the way or to call for help. Luckily her phone rang – a concerned friend was searching for her. She managed to leave the cubicle, but the experience was a sombre introduction to university life. One terrified girl spoke of being raped by another student. There was not a shred of ambiguity in the situation. She said no, he insisted, and in the end he forcefully took her virginity. She has been scared to be intimate with anyone since. I spoke to a close friend who recalled the multiple times that her drink had been spiked. She described her worst night: blacking out after 9pm, and waking up the next day with no idea of what happened. Another friend remembers being taken home by a stranger after asking him for directions, and recalls nothing beyond him coming into her flat. She is almost certain she was raped. There is a persistence of rape culture in university social life, and little is being done to tackle it. Questions about sexual consent are rarely addressed by our institutions of higher education, and a “laddish” approach to women’s sexual rights is pervasive. While some universities warn women to protect themselves, few attempt to educate men about a woman’s right consciously to consent to sexual acts. At Cambridge, “swaps” between men and women of different colleges are a well-known social event. These dinners create an atmosphere in which women are heavily encouraged to drink to the point at which they become sexually vulnerable to the men. One male friend admitted that swaps are “a bit rapey” and resolved not to go back. Other boys, meanwhile, talk of “success rates” at swaps – that is to say how many managed to have sex with girls afterwards. One boy said: “I only came on this swap because I heard there was a 70% success rate last year.” Swaps are usually accompanied by sexist themes in order to pressure the girls into dressing provocatively. In my first week at university, I was invited to a swap which was themed “what were you wearing when the police invaded the brothel?” This is part of a rape culture which leads boys to see women primarily as objects for their sexual satisfaction. It’s part of a wider culture that teaches girls to be sexual in accordance to men’s desires, but shames them if they explore their own sexuality. Most of all, it’s a culture that belittles a woman’s right to say no. Joking about rape is a core part of the laddish environment that I have witnessed at university. At one student party, a boy was asked about “rapiest” thing he had done. He said that he had made sure a girl was heavily drunk before attempting to kiss her, to which another boy replied “that’s a pretty standard pulling technique for most guys.” It’s worrying that some boys who are studying to become doctors, lawyers, scientists and teachers think that it’s acceptable to take advantage of a girl regardless of her consent. It’s disturbing that they find it amusing to encourage girls to drink to the point when they can no longer refuse to have sex with them. Our universities cannot go on like this. Girls enter university and find themselves in a world of sexual assault, objectification and harassment. We’re shown that even if you say no, he can still have sex with you. That it’s your fault if you were too drunk, and that your clothes ask for the attention. We’re being told to shut up and cover up. A recent NUS study shows that women students are at increased risk of sexual harassment and violence. Such a toxic environment is hindering the emotional development of young men and women. Yet there is no policy in place to help eradicate this aspect of university life. At my hometown uni there’s something called the fox hunt. The Young Conservatives at the uni dress up, the women as foxes to be ‘hunted’ by the men. In all honesty if the women are complicit in this hunt and by dressing up they are, is the outcome anything other than what is to be expected. This sounds atrocious and the women should refuse to be party to it. Universities must create a strategy for tackling this issue, beginning with the introduction of compulsory consent workshops for all students, if we are to have any hope of eradicating the insidious rape culture It’s such a difficult subject to talk about, and no wonder many victims of sexual harassment or rape don’t want to come forward to their Universities, but then the University doesn’t realise the scale of the problem. It is not the responsibility of victims to educate Universities however, and uni’s need to be far FAR more proactive at dealing with this. But it makes leaders uncomfortable, so they don’t want to talk about it. When I try to raise this in any discussion at any level at my uni, people are very dismissive, say its not a real problem here. I realise I’m not proposing any solutions here! but the absolute first step is uni’s realising they have to tackle it, and the problem is far more widespread than they ever could imagine.that is currently going unchallenged.