A Look At Date Rape on College Campuses
Myth: Rape is committed by crazed strangers.
Reality: Most women are raped by ‘normal’ acquaintances.
Myth: Women who don’t fight back haven’t been raped.
Reality: You have been raped when you are forced to have sex against your will, whether you fight back or not.
Myth: If there’s no gun or knife, you haven’t been raped.
Reality: It’s rape whether the rapist uses a weapon or his fists, verbal threats, drugs or alcohol, physical isolation, your own diminished physical or mental state, or simply the weight of his body to overcome you.
Myth: Agreeing to kiss or neck or pet with a man means that a woman has agreed to have intercourse with him.
Reality: Everyone has the right to say ‘no’ to sexual activity, regardless of what has preceded it, and to have that ‘no’ respected.
Myth: When men are sexually aroused, they need to have sex or they will get ‘blue balls.’ Also, once they get turned on, men can’t help themselves from forcing sex on a woman.
Reality: Men don’t physically need to have sex after becoming aroused any more than women do. Moreover, men are still able to control themselves even after becoming sexually excited.
These myths and realities were just some of the ideas presented in a book called I never Called It Rape by Robin Warshaw. The book presents many facets of the issue of date rape, but particularly looks at the prevalence of date or acquaintance rape in collegiate age people. The reality is that one in four college women have been victims of rape or attempted rape, yet only 1 in 12 men felt they had ever committed acts that met the legal definitions of rape or attempted rape.
Ironically, only 27 percent of the women whose sexual assault met the legal definition of rape thought of themselves as rape victims.
“It is so important for women and men on college campuses to understand what rape is and understand the facts and statistics of this issue,” said Jeri Hilt, a 21-year-old Howard University student who recently held a program on the issue of rape on campus. “About 70-80 percent of rape is committed by persons known to the victim. This statistic alone is evidence that rape is not a crime committed largely by strangers lurking in the bushes. It is an issue plaguing our society and fed by the unhealthy socialization of male/female relationships.”
The legal definition of rape, however, is sometimes a murky issue in itself. Most states have their own definition, but generally abide by this basic definition provided by the California Rape Law.
According that law, “Rape is an act of sexual intercourse carried out against a person’s will by means of force, violence, duress, menace, or fear of immediate and unlawful bodily injury on the person or another, where the victim is unable to resist because of an intoxicating, narcotic, or anesthetic substance that the accused has responsibility for administering, where the victim is unconscious of the nature of the act and the perpetrator knows it or where the victim is incapable of giving consent, and the perpetrator reasonably should know this.”
“The problem is that most men and women do not recognize the actions or circumstances that denote sexual abuse or rape,” said Hilt. “Increased awareness is a necessity. It’s the only way to stop the prevalence of this issue.”
Another way to try to stop the prevalence of rape is to understand the factors that make it so widespread. Warsaw talked about six main factors which included dating rituals, interpersonal violence, miscommunication, a belief in the “justifiable” rape, the role of alcohol and drugs, and social cultures that support rape and violence. She said that from the beginning of most traditional dates, the game of will the woman let the man have sex with her is already setting the environment for date rape.
“This balance might be maintained for a long time in a way that is satisfactory to both people. But if the man moves from trying to cajole the woman into sexual activity to forcing her to comply by raping her, he may encounter what seems to him little resistance,” she said. “That’s because the woman’s socialization has most likely taught her that she must not express her own wishes forcefully.”
Yet, maybe an even bigger issue that plagues college campuses is the use of drugs and/ or alcohol. About 75 percent of the men and at least 55 percent of the women involved in date rapes were drinking or taking drugs just before the attack
“We really need to examine the motivation that behind getting drunk on most college campuses,” said Mark Pate, a 21-year-old from Xavier University. “Drinking games, such as Questions are clearly trying to create a climate for sex. The guys want to get the girls ‘drunk enough’ so that they won’t be so resistant. That goes on all the time, but I think that if people really stopped to think about what they were doing, guys and girls, the prevalence of rapes might not be as high as they are.”
If you or anyone you know has been a victim of rape, it is important get medical help, take time to recover, and get counseling. Do not let yourself be the victim.