How Millennials are Changing Rape Culture

It’s no secret that millennials aren’t afraid to share their voice. The emergence of social media has provided young minds with an outlet for conversation, expression, and rebellion. Their voices aren’t being overshadowed by outspoken politicians and news anchors – not to say that activism and enthusiasm for causes were absent in history.

However, millennials unique use of social media as a tool for change has had a positive influence on how our society views rape culture. Not only is there an influx of influence by millennials as a whole, trends demonstrate awareness in their use of media techniques to drive narratives. By diving into the main causes of sexual assault, we’re able to find a trend that positively impacts how future generations will view sexual assault and rape culture.

A Movement, not Social Media Campaign

The recent news headlines about sexual assault violations from movie producers, politicians and – ironically enough – news anchors, has sparked an entire #metoo movement. A movement that has been around for quite some time but only really came to headlines following thousands of “re-tweets” of a post made by Alyssa Milano using the #metoo hashtag. Both men and women have used social media as a platform to share stories of sexual harassment and sexual assault.

Millennials know the signs of sexual abuse very well because education on the subject has been enforced in public schools throughout the US. What makes this movement so empowering for millennials and older generations is that both younger and older individuals are able to share their stories and confide in each other. This juxtaposition of empowerment between ages is a correlation to how rape culture is likely to be viewed.

The #metoo movement is far from a glorification of rape culture. It is an outcry for openness that had so long been shunned by mainstream media. These victims realize their voices need and want to be heard. Many of these stores have been held back by woman and men for so many years because they were afraid they would be shamed. Social sharing is so important for millennials because it helps them share and receive valuable information. As a society, no previous generation has ever been more connected.

Objectified, Blamed and Shamed

So what was it that bred this fear to share and be outspoken sexual abuse victims? In previous generations, the primary source for information was the evening news. According to research conducted by Rainn.org, an organization dedicated to victims of sexual violence, %54 of sexual assault victims are between the ages of 18-34.

Currently, those who are between the ages 18-34 are classified as “millennials.” So how can it be those who are the largest victims are the biggest influencers on sexual abuse? Social media has given those victims a voice and as a result, this has made those who are most vulnerable, more valuable to ending sexual assault.

A United Message

The women’s march on Washington following Trump’s election in 2016 is an incredible example of how millennials are coming together in an effort to create awareness and advocate for the most vulnerable. For decades, Marches on Washington have been a progressive symbol for change.

Not only was the whole world watching, but the notion of involvement was what drew millions of people and inspired millions more to start their own marches. Today, the idea of being involved is stronger than anything. Not only are millennials the largest – they’re the loudest and proudest.

Millennials make up a quarter of the population, so naturally, their voices are overpowering. According to the Pew Research Center, millennials are the best educated group of young adults in American history. Additionally, %54 percent of millennials have started their own business or are planning to in the future. The influence is carried both socioeconomically and economically.

While population grows, so does its knowledge. It’s safe to say the impact millennials have had on sexual abuse is positive and promising for our future generations. They have shown they will not tolerate harassment in the workplace or on the internet. Nor will they tolerate not standing for something.

This “pact mentality” both in the virtual world and the real world will inspire future generations to make their own landmark changes which will include an ever-changing moral discussion on humanity.

Actor Terry Crews Comes Forward About Being Sexually Assaulted by Hollywood Exec

Actor Terry Crews takes to Twitter to discuss being sexually assaulted by a Hollywood Executive in the wake of the firing of Harvey Weinstein for sexual assault after years of accusations.

Actor Terry Crews

Did you hear the Expendables star say last year?

How is it the criminal justice system doesn’t seem to be able to touch these folks?

Power and privilege keep a lot of people silent.

He just validated a whole lot of women who deal with this on the regular. It’s not easy to come forward.

There is strength in numbers and knowing you are not alone.

Both men and women are affected by sexual assault and rape culture, and it will take more men becoming advocates as well as coming forward to tell their stories because they have stories too.

Reactions from Twitter

https://twitter.com/CeciATL/status/917866303020519427

Rape Culture — How Do We Address and End it?

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Trigger warning: this post contains challenging references to rape and sexual violence.

I was moved by Madeleine Holden’s piece in The Spinoff today, about Brock Turner, the 19- (now 20-) year-old Stanford student athlete sentenced to six months imprisonment after raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. It’s a passionate bit of writing, angry actually and, rightfully so, Holden asks the question, “What culture raised Turner to become a rapist?”

She concludes:

“… rapists are absorbing our cultural attitudes about rape, and then they are raping … women. It’s not an academic exercise, and we have enough evidence to show that our dialogue around rape isn’t harmless or separate from the real world in which rape takes place. Perpetuating rape myths contributes towards a culture in which rape happens often and is punished little; a culture that believes, on some level, that men are bound to rape and women invite rape by acting in certain ways.

“That is the real problem.”

I agree, partially. Here’s what I think the real, real problem is: We’re doing little, if anything, to address Holden’s real problem. Which, of course, is because we don’t think the real problem is a problem.

That’s far too many problems in one paragraph.

I’ve been watching the Turner story develop over the last week or so. I’ve felt angry, aghast, helpless, sad. I admit, I’m not altogether sure about how I feel or what I think about Turner not being sentenced to the maximum 14 years sentence. I’m conflicted. In the context of our current judicial system it doesn’t give justice to Turner’s 23-year-old victim. However, I don’t think sending a 19-year-old to prison for the same length of time as his life would do anything to solve the problem of rape culture.

I agree the system favours the likes of Turner (“young, white male athletes from prestigious universities … treated leniently by their schools and the legal system”). But the same system is also biased against people of non-white, poor and underprivileged backgrounds.

I also agree it treats rape victims abysmally. So we begin to add another element to rape culture: the judicial system.

What has shocked me the most has been the comments made by the two prominent adult white men involved: Judge Aaron Persky and Turner’s father. Persky: “A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him… I think he will not be a danger to others.” Turner senior: “His life will never be the one that he dreamt about and worked so hard to achieve. That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.”

Here we see the effect of both system and culture manifesting themselves in beliefs that Turner’s upbringing will result in only one incidence of offending and that the incident’s consequence on Turner is more impacting than that of his victim.

Part of the real, real problem is not holding these adults to account because it is they who personify and perpetuate the culture of rape and the system that lets it continue. Admittedly, Persky has been called on his attitude (well, actually probably more his light sentence) by demands for him to be removed from his role, but Turner’s father seems to have escaped any ire apart from Holden’s (I won’t repeat her words, they stand for themselves). It seems the right to free speech translates into a father’s right to raise a rapist.

If we took a real stance against rape culture, Turner’s father’s attitude would be deemed a crime in itself. Is it any wonder a 19-year-old young man would see raping an unconscious woman as a legitimate way to get a bit of action with such fatherly advice?

Rape culture is a problem of society. It’s a problem of generations, history and patriarchy. Rape culture needs to be targeted by many more institutions than the judiciary. Boys, I believe, from as young as ten or 11, need age-appropriate education about consent, sexual violence and intimate respect throughout their schooling. Male teachers need similar professional development.

Rape rehabilitation programmes need to target all offenders, as well as parents, teachers and other significant adults in the lives of juvenile offenders. Judges need professional development until such time as, hopefully, rape is seen as a socially-caused aberrant behaviour deserving treatment rather than punishment.

Victims of rape need skilled and sustainable support and access to restorative processes that address the impact of the behaviour. Restorative processes need to acknowledge the role of individual, parental, educational and social failure to prevent the behaviour.

If you think I’m being soft, that those men just need to pay for it, so be it. I write this out of compassion and genuine concern for humanity, as we are all affected adversely by rape culture. If we continue to believe it’s enough to just blame the offender, we must consider how this is any more fair and effective than blaming victims and saying they ask for it.

This could be the beginning of a real solution.

What Racists and Child Rape Apologists Have in Common

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I remember interviewing two women back to back for a federal research project. Both women were black. They were mother and daughter. They told me, a stranger, about their story of someone raping them.  Yet, they never told one another. On that day, they both asked me not to share any details with the other.

These interviews took place in a major city that was heavily protested in 2015. Covered by all the three letter major news networks, breaking news, trending on social media, #BlackLivesMatter. But a decade prior, we were interviewing women who were slowly dying in that city. They were in a state of existing as a direct result of rape/sexual abuse.  There would be no protests for them.

No breaking news.

No hashtags.

No one would ever be outraged about the fact that someone or several folks raped them over and over again. And now, it was killing them a little bit each day.

I know your fear

I understand your fear.  Black men are often accused of raping white women as stated by the shooter who killed 9 parishioners in a Charleston South Carolina church.  The fact is rape is like other crimes. It is intra-racial.  White men are more likely to rape white women. And on and on. See keep in mind, people are more likely to be raped by people that they know. That masked stranger in the bush stuff is rare by comparison.

But y’all can’t let our fear of racism keep us from addressing this monster in our community. Beat them back on this like we beat back that other racist crap.

FYI…I hear y’all talking. “We have other things to worry about in the community.”  

Estimated 3.1 million Black rape victims and 5.9 million Black survivors of other forms of sexual violence. These don’t even include people who will take the secret to the grave.  Y’all, these numbers are too high for folks to be playing and procrastinating?

Seems like all you have to do is make one simple statement:

The problem of black men who prey upon black girls/boys must be discussed and addressed. Just that statement forces hell to come undone. I don’t think that the child rape apologists realize just how much they have in common with the racists that they despise. Yet, they use the same techniques.

Distraction

Racists:

“But what about black on black crime?”

“What about black on white crime?”

Child Rape Apologists:

“But what about girls who “date” older men?”

“What about white men who aren’t held accountable?”

Neither group would be concerned about these issues outside of using them for the purposes of distraction.  They aren’t concerned about the accuracy of the information.  They aren’t concerned about the victims.  Their sole reason for bringing up these points is to distract people attempting to solve a problem from coming up with a solution.

Victim blaming

Racists:

“The kid ran from the police.”

 “The man stood still.” “The woman looked him in the eyes too long.”

“The child had a toy gun.”

Child Rape Apologists:

 “She looked 18.”

“These girls know what they are getting into.”

 “Hey, that is the legal age in some states. She is old enough to know better.”

“Looking like that, at 15, what did she expect?”

Biased Victim characterization

Both of them tend to misname the victims.

Racists:  Those people are thugs, juveniles, (racial slurs) Everything and anything but children.

Child Rape Apologists:  Those girls are fast, hoes, sneaky, liars, grown, (slurs).  Everything and anything but children.

Accountability

Racists: In cases of police brutality which is the main focus of #BlackLivesMatter, perpetrators are rarely held accountable, their victims are numerous.  Their victims aren’t accurately counted. The system is engineered against victims.

Likewise, it is extremely hard to get a conviction in a child rape case.

Child rape apologists:  Perpetrators are rarely held accountable, their victims are numerous.   Their victims aren’t accurately counted because most do not come forward. The system is engineered against victims.

Sexual Violence Victims

As we fight against police brutality we at least have the benefit of technology on our side.

But, see we can’t arm little girls and boys with cameras everywhere they go.  Our only hope is to make the adults smarter.  (I literally sighed after writing that sentence)

Fellow people, all I keep thinking as I bounce around and read your postings on various social media platforms with your victim blaming, distractions, and bold characterizations; is how bold you all are.

You say what you say with such conviction and you don’t even know anything.

What you don’t know

I’m not talking facts, figures, and stats.

I mean, I often want to tell these folks, “You don’t even know whether or not your mother is a Survivor.”

Do you know that?

What about your Sister?  Your best friend?

How about your father? Brother?

Your children?  Nieces? Nephews? Cousins?

Promiscuity, low self esteem, depression, substance use can all be side effects of sexual abuse, you know. You knew that they were hurting, but you just couldn’t figure it out. You just couldn’t reach them. View below a survivor telling her truth:

Sexual Assault is not a Misconduct Issue, It is a Criminal Issue

Every April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). During these thirty days, survivors, students, professionals, and activists’ march throughout the streets and institutions, campaign on social media, and appear on television to bring awareness to the issue of sexual assault.

There are posters, displays, and drives created to spread the word about the prevalence of this issue—that one in three women will be sexually assaulted during her lifetime.  There has already been much discussion about sexual assault, as the media has reported many incidents this year.

From celebrities, NFL players, executives, fraternity members, college students, to the next-door neighbor, it seems we have seen it all. As month of April and SAAM campaigns come to a close, it is important to note that awareness is not nearly enough. Instead, policies must change in order to truly make a social change in the prevalence of sexual assault.

SAAM-definition1The surge of media coverage surrounding sexual assault has focused largely on college campus sexual assaults, and a report from the White House asserts that one in five college women are the victims of sexual assault. In 2014, the U.S. Department of Education placed higher education institutions under investigation for “possible violations of federal law over the handling of sexual violence and harassment complaints”.

This investigation spurred from complaints filed against colleges by students who were victims of sexual assault and rape, as well as federal audits alleges college campuses actions resulted in the underreporting and mishandling of Campus Sexual Assault complaints. As of March 2015, 104 colleges and universities have been added to the list of institutions under federal investigation.

Many university administrations that are under federal investigation have created a “Sexual Misconduct Task Force” that meets to address the issue of sexual assault on campus. The language within these task forces, orientations for new students, and regular correspondence is noteworthy. It seems that the term “sexual misconduct” is used in times when sexual assault shall be used. This is not merely semantics; it is a matter of legality.

The term “misconduct” refers to when someone behaves in an improper or unprofessional manner. It is logical for universities to use this term in the code of ethics when discussing issues such as cheating or plagiarism. On the contrary, the term “sexual assault” is defined as “any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. Falling under the definition of sexual assault are sexual activities as forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape” according to the Department of Justice. It is logical to use this term for a criminal offense.

This dichotomy in semantics seems to be an issue throughout the vast majority of colleges and universities. That is, administrators place sexual assault and rape under campus “misconduct” in official documentation. The question is why?

These are some of the most prestigious educational institutions and the administrators are cognizant of how language greatly impacts one’s view of the institution. By demoting the language of sexual violence to sexual misconduct, universities are placing the issue of sexual assault in the same category as plagiarism. Consequently, reducing the seriousness of such incidences.

By addressing sexual assaults as a campus misconduct issue, the faculty and staff may view such incidents as violations of the student code of conduct. This may lead to the failure to treat these incidents as criminal cases, as they are ruled in federal law. That is, sexual assault and rape are criminal offenses that must be investigated by police departments and tried in a criminal court; if found guilty, perpetrators are charged with a felony.

In the 2015 Inside Higher Ed Survey of College and University Presidents, Gallop found that about one-third (32 percent) of responding presidents agree or strongly agree that sexual assault is prevalent at American colleges and universities. However, few presidents (6 percent) agree or strongly agree that sexual assault is prevalent at their institution. While three-quarters of presidents (77 percent) agree or strongly agree that their campus is doing a good job protecting women from sexual assault on campus.

Notice the contradictions? College and university presidents agree that sexual assault is a problem in America, however very few feel that it is a problem on their specific campus. Could it be that the language used by administrators is affecting how the institutions view the issue of sexual assault?

Maybe if colleges and universities began to address sexual assault for what it is—a crime—there may be less confusion if it is an issue on their campus. Though, the hesitation may stem from administrators disclosing that such crimes exist on their campuses. Yes, if accurate numbers were reported, students would be more timid to attend these colleges and universities. Yet, if administrators treated sexual assault as a crime, then trained law enforcement professionals would investigate these case and take rape cases out of the hands of the Department of Student Affairs which will make campuses safer.

College and university policies must change so that sexual assaults are depicted and treated as criminal cases. By doing so, proper trainings, resources, and judicial processes could take place, lead to prevention and proper handling of sexual assaults on college campuses—nationwide.

Why Aren’t We Talking About Sexual Assault On Campus?

By Leah Greenidge, Rosedad Francois, Valerie Jean-louis, Farah Robles

As children, we embark on various journeys in life from attending our 8th grade dance, making the cheer-leading team or making the varsity sports team in high school. Then, if fortunate enough, its surviving the hectic and often stressful 4 years of college in hopes of obtaining your degree. With this journey comes many obstacles and sadly sexual assault on campus can be one of the harsher obstacles in life someone may experience with many long-term and devastating effects.

Students found guilty of sexual assault on campuses have a high probability of receiving no consequences for their actions. It is usually the victim that has to endure the shame, feelings of embarrassment and anger which may change their outlook on life. Victims are either too scared to report or feel as if they some how caused the events to happen. Most survivors suffer high rates of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, and co-occurring drug/alcohol abuse. Due to under-reporting, it is believed that 1 in every 5 women will be sexually assaulted while in college.

According to an article in Mother Jones,

The NIJ-funded study also examined the circumstances and risk factors surrounding sexual assault on campus, including the role of alcohol and fraternities. Nearly 60 percent of campus sexual-assault victims were under the influence of booze or drugs when they were attacked; one-fourth said their assailant was a frat member. Read Full Article

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To make our campuses safer, change needs to happen with school policies and practices to prevent these assaults from happening. Across all demographics, rapists and sex offenders are too often escape paying for their crimes and are free to assault again. Sexual assault in general is a subject that people keep on “the hush hush”, but we need to start talking about sexual assault on campus in order to create a safe environment for students to excel.

We are students passionate about empowering people, and we’ve started this campaign to give a voice to those who don’t have one #‎outofyourshadow

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Rape Culture, Child Protection, and 50 Shades of Grey – Related Really?

Rape Culture, Child Protection and 50 Shades of Gray may not appear to have an obvious connection, but let’s take a moment to consider. We have seen a significant increase in concern about the impact of domestic violence and child abuse in high profile cases within the sports and entertainment fields as well as several post-secondary institutions finding themselves in the spotlight for failing to address sexual assault and rape culture on college campuses.

In Canada, we watched questions emerge regarding sexual misconduct allegations against broadcaster Jian Ghomeshi which eventually led to his termination while he awaits trial. Presently on trial in Europe is former head the IMF Dominique Strauss-Kahn for his alleged role in a sex ring in France in addition to an alleged sexual assault against a hotel maid in New York City.

The Roman Catholic church has been plagued with allegations of sexual abuse while working its way through years upon years of confirmed sexual abuse against children. The Royal Commission in Australia stated, “We will also hear, hopefully, from Governments around Australia, on how they intend to approach redress for survivors of abused in government-run homes, orphanages and other institutions.” The recent conviction and sixteen-year sentence of former rock star Gary Glitter for abuse of young girls under the age of 13 with some abuse occurring as far back as 3 decades ago. Domestic violence, sexual abuse, molestation, sexual assault are significant issues in child protection matters.

At the heart of this intersection is the question of what children are exposed to and what is consent. Does a woman consent to be beaten by a partner? Does a child consent to sex with an adult? Does a drunken woman consent to sex when she is too impaired to really consent? Those who are in a powerless and subordinate position are not able to consent, but this appears to be a complex question in today’s society.

Additionally, how the media plays out the issue of consent matters to society at large. 50 Shades of Grey sets up a standard for consent that suggests it might not be so voluntary and yet still acceptable. The Atlantic offered a thoughtful piece on how the 50 Shades of Grey books and the movie are really depicting nonconsensual sex which must then be characterized as some level of abuse. This view may not be welcomed by its millions of followers, but it’s worth noting the BDSM community is not welcoming this movie as exemplary of what they perceive to be voluntary and consensual activity in this sexual arena.

If we want to create safer families and communities for children, should we not be connecting the dots between the various forces that impact how safety is defined and created? When we make a media sensation out of non-consensual sex abuse and assault, it enables sexual and gender-based violence. That’s a problem.

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