The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Men should lead the anti-sexual-violence movement

Why did this happen? What did I do to deserve this? What I’m going to tell my parents?

These are some of the many possible questions that go through the mind of a sexual assault victim in the moments after sexual assault or rape.

Yet, we rarely expect to think think that the victim might ask, “How can I bring my attacker to justice?”

One reason could be because our culture is perpetually blaming the victims of sexual assault and puts the responsibility of dealing with the rape on the victim, instead of on the attacker.

Men are the main perpetrators of sexual violence – on both women and other men – and should take the lead by educating other men to end rape and sexual violence.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice statistics, 99 percent of rapists are male. Fifty-four percent of rapes and sexual assault cases go unreported and 97 percent of attackers will never spend a night in jail, according to the Rape, Abuse,And Incest National Network (RAINN). Some of this can be attributed to certain issues in the legal system, but those issues are only an extension of a culture that reinforces apathy over sexual assault.

In what has now been one of the most widely publicized sexual assault cases, a 16-year-old girl from Louisville, Kentucky, named Savannah Deitrich who was sexually assaulted at party by two teenage boys, tweeted the names of her two attackers after the two attackers received a plea deal, (which according to Anderson Cooper 360, the Dietrich family, did not agree to). Dietrich was subsequently threatened with 180 days in jail for contempt after the judge in the case had advised her to stay silent on the matter.

This would be more jail time than either attacker would ever receive. In fact, they only needed fifty hours of volunteer work and finish a diversion program in order to have their criminal expunged, according to CNN. After an internet firestorm, the charges against Dietrich were dropped and now the Louisville Courier-Journal has sued the court to have the sealed records made public.

What this case illustrates is a justice system that is still rooted heavily in misogyny and patriarchy, in which a victim of sexual assault would receive more jail time for confronting her attackers than the two boys would for having committing the crime.

This a product of a culture that blames women for being raped instead of blaming men for raping women. This is something so mind-boggling I sometimes wonder if we are living in 2012 or the 1950s. Similarly, rape prevention efforts across the nation have also seemingly written out the attacker as the one to blame and made it the responsibility of sexual assault victims to not get attacked.

Many common phrases heard in prevention efforts sound something similar to this: “don’t wear a short skirt because it makes you an easy target.” For example, a Toronto police officer said in January 2011 that “women should stop dressing like sluts in order to not be victimized.” Not only was this highly insensitive and offensive for an officer of the law to say, it completely misses the point that rape is not about sex, it is about power. It is for that reason that men rape other men in prison and sexual abuse is used as a tool of war in developing countries.

It is time to end the culture of slut-shaming, selective blindness and outright misogyny that has saturated our culture and made women across the world live in fear of being attacked, or even worse, be afraid to come forward with the story of their attacks in fear of being blamed for their rape.

In the 21st century this is entirely unacceptable and is a testament to how far we still have to go in ending the scourge of sexual violence that plagues our society today. Victims of rape have in the past been some of the only voices advocating against rape – women protecting other women – but it is time for men to step up to the plate. Men need to be strong advocates against sexual assault by telling each other that rape is never acceptable under any circumstances.

It’s really just common sense. I wonder whatever happened to that.

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