Our Perspectives Editor Alexander LeFebvre writes a powerful condemnation of how we talk about sexual assault, from society at large to university campuses
It seems insane that we are where we are today, with one proven sexual predator sitting on America’s throne anointing another to be a justice of the highest court in the land. In fact, the term justice might as well be discarded at this point. Despite the bells tolling for a number of high-profile athletes, Hollywood stars, and other elites of society, the facts on the ground paint a different picture. Sex education is not comprehensive, colleges are not proactive, and for me most poignantly, men have not joined the fight.
Let’s start with the sad excuse for a leader we call Donald Trump. Just this week, he said that his Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, could not possibly have sexually assaulted his Yale classmate because she was drunk. Now, having been drunk myself before, I am still capable of remembering events from the night before and am also capable of not sexually assaulting someone. This pass that society is awarding guys for getting drunk and preying on whoever they feel like is bullshit. If I got drunk and jumped in a car and ran over someone, no one is blaming the victim in that case, so how is this any different? Trump and Kavanaugh are literally throwing every excuse they can think of in the face of their accusers (most incredibly claiming that Kavanaugh was a virgin – poor guy), and it echoes a lot of the other problems that our society is fumbling when it comes to dealing with sexual assault.
First and foremost, sex education is not comprehensive. The earliest sex education most guys receive is through watching porn, which is glorified rape. Guys are not taught two really important lessons about becoming a man. The first is that with the difference in power between the genders, there comes a responsibility to recognize that and not abuse that power. The second is that it’s okay to have feelings, be sensitive, and not be strong all the time. The pressure put upon men to act a certain way is unhealthy and is tied to the high suicide rates, imprisonment and maybe even feeling like they need to get with women to prove their worth. You can still be a strong man without committing crimes (duh). Finally, a clear definition of rape needs to be clearly defined like any other crime is, and we need to begin to hold each other to it.
The manner in which colleges handle situations is pathetic. No one should have to come forward, recant their entire story to the school, and then wait and see if anything comes of it while feeling the stigma of being a victim. The obsession over finding hard evidence is such a detriment to actually making any meaningful progress. Betsy DeVos recently put through a bill that is meant to protect guys from being falsely accused, but honestly how is that more of a priority than the 98% of rapes that go unpunished? This really involves a joint effort between the guys changing our rhetoric in how we talk about women, colleges taking some initiative and the government supporting the victims for once. Which brings us back to the Kavanaugh situation. Surely we need to cut through the bullshit and ask ourselves is this the kind of environment we want to be a part of, or will we decide to become part of a solution?