In response to “Charges of Sexual-Assault ‘Cover-Ups’ Gain New Power on the Big Screen” in The Chornicle of Higher Education:
While I applaud the efforts of these filmmakers bringing sexual assault on college campuses and in the military to light, I believe we all share some of the responsibility in the issue.
Sexual assault does not only happen at fraternities, on residential college campuses, or in the military. Sexual assault happens everywhere and it does not discriminate. It happens to rich people, poor people, white people, black people, and everything in between.
Yes, I believe college campuses can do more in their handling of sexual assault cases. They can better support the victims and better hold the attackers responsible. Since it is a crime, and a vile one, I truly believe sexual assault cases should be criminally charged, not lessened by going through academic discipline systems. Criminals should be prosecuted as such and violating someone else’s body is a crime – period.
However, that is not the whole point. At college, these are adults who commit these acts, thinking it is okay to take what they want from women (and sometimes men). This is a societal issue. This is an issue of how we raise our children to respect one another, how we treat women in the media, and how we treat women in the workplace.
In a culture where women still do not make the same salaries for similar jobs and where one in five college women are sexually assaulted we have much work to do.
The thing is we can’t start once people get to college and we can’t just blame the colleges. We have to start much earlier an we all have a part to play. We have to push for women each step of our careers and our lives. We have to raise our children – boys and girls alike – to respect their own bodies and those of others; teach them what healthy sexuality and relationships look like; and make sure they understand consent.
Then maybe, we’ll have a better chance of really impacting sexual assault overall, not just on college campuses.