Monday, April 05, 2010

Date Rape is a Crime, Not an “Incoherent Concept;” American U. Column and its Media Coverage Distort and Confuse the Issue


WASHINGTON, DC, April 5, 2010 - The recent opinion column in the American University student newspaper – and its ensuing media coverage – fails to accurately represent the reality of sexual assault on college and university campuses. Rape is not an “incoherent concept” for the estimated one in four college women who will be raped by classmates, boyfriends, friends, or dorm-mates during their college career.

Rape is any form of penetration without consent and by force or threat of force; in nearly every state, someone who is intoxicated cannot legally consent to sex. Even though we know that rape is a felony, we are taught that the line of consent is blurry – perhaps even malleable. When a woman drinks too much at a party, or goes home with a certain guy, or goes into his bedroom, consent is too often taken for granted. It is not only the survivors who lose because of these problematic assumptions. On the one hand, eighty percent of survivors know their perpetrators, making it nearly impossible for women to distinguish “safe guys” from “potential rapists.” On the other hand, while the vast majority of these perpetrators are men, most men do not rape women.

Many of the college and university men that Men Can Stop Rape works with nationwide are engaged around this issue precisely because they have seen firsthand the devastating effects of sexual assault on the women they care about. These men know that the two percent of false rape reports are not the real problem; and they focus on supporting the millions of women – like family, friends, classmates, coworkers, and service members – who are sexually assaulted every year. These men work with women as allies in creating safe, healthy relationships and behavior.

It is not likely that the media will stop victim-blaming unless more people speak out against attitudes like “rape is an incoherent concept.” Last week on April 1st marked the beginning of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. There is no better time for individuals, especially men, to learn how they can stand up, be strong, and take action to prevent rape and date rape.

Here are five things men can do to prevent date rape:
  1. Does kissing mean that a person wants to have sex? How do you know? When a situation is unclear, asking before you act will ensure safe and healthy sex for everyone.
  2. Accept when consent is withdrawn. Even after a person has given their consent, that person can withdraw it at any time. We all deserve the right to change our minds.
  3. If a person is drunk or high and can’t give consent, back off and wait until you both are sober.
  4. You’ve heard of designated drivers. Now use the same principle to prevent rape. At a party, designate someone among your group of friends to keep an eye on a guy that might be behaving in ways that could lead to sexual violence.
  5. You probably will never see a rape in progress, but you will hear attitudes and see behaviors that degrade women and promote a culture of violence. When your friend tells a rape joke, let him know it’s not funny.
Men Can Stop Rape (MCSR)'s mission is to mobilize men to use their strength for creating cultures free from violence, especially men’s violence against women. Named by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as one of the world’s most innovative violence prevention programs, Men Can Stop Rape has reached over 2 million youth and professionals since 1997. MCSR has provided youth and college programming, public awareness materials, and training for the Department of Defense, Office of Health & Human Services, Liz Claiborne, Inc. (Love is Respect), DCPS, California Coalition Against Sexual Assault, and more.

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13 comments:

  1. Anonymous2:00 PM

    Good to see a discussion of the issue that includes applicable legal standards and ways to actively prevent rape. Rape is not an "incoherent concept"; it is a crime.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous9:51 PM

    he said date rape was an incoherent concept, not rape, and i agree. if a girl gets drunk around me and comes back to my place for sex she shouldnt moan when she sobers up

    ReplyDelete
  3. And you're posting anonymously because you're a douchebag that knows he's wrong and a rapist. If you really believe nothing's wrong, post your name and email address. Stand up for what you believe in!

    No? Well, I'm not surprised. I can't imagine anyone else is.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Rochelle12:19 PM

    The standard is not mere intoxication, it's intoxication to the point that the person cannot consent, which, as you can imagine, is a pretty tough standard to prove (at least it has been in the Philadelphia rape cases I've legally been a part of). This article oversimplifies the standard.

    California has a specific provision for intoxication:
    (3) Where a person is prevented from resisting by any intoxicating
    or anesthetic substance, or any controlled substance, and this
    condition was known, or reasonably should have been known by the
    accused.

    Pennsylvania has a broader, encompassing, provision for "unconscious victims":
    3. Who is unconscious or where the person knows that the complainant is unaware that
    the sexual intercourse is occurring.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Anonymous8:28 PM

    Woman who statutorily raped boy bribes girl to falsely accuse the boy of rape.

    http://www.salisburypost.com/News/040610-teen-lies-about-rape--woman-charged2010-04-06T21-31-22

    Most rape nowadays is false accusations, its good that that the public, legistators, and juries are becoming more aware of this fact through the number of new stories such as this one. Most women would lie about rape to gain an advantage.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks, I will be retweeting this.
    NPR had a great report recently on serial date rape on college campuses:
    http://raisingfeministgirls.blogspot.com/2010/03/daughter-headed-to-college-watch-out.html

    ReplyDelete
  7. Anonymous5:50 PM

    It's not that complicated: ask for her consent. Once, a guy I was out with asked me, point blank, "You have been drinking a couple of beers, are you sure you want to have sex? You are not just saying that because you drank a little? You know that you didn't drink enough to be drunk and you are responsible for whatever you decide to do, right? Are you sure?"

    He had me say "yes" repeatedly.

    At the time, I thought it was odd, but he was doing the right thing. It was only odd because most guys DON'T do that.

    That should be the norm, not the exception!

    Get consent.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Anonymous8:35 PM

    Let's be clear. Rape is based on power and control. It's not about how much a rape survivor drinks. It's about the choices a rapist makes to obtain sex by whatever means necessary. It's not about miscommunication. It's a sex crime. Know the difference.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Anonymous6:34 PM

    Sorry, but something that confuses me, particularly with the comment above about a man asking a woman for consent multiple times, is what precisely the concern is behind people of any sex or gender getting drunk and having sex, even if they aren't sober enough to legally give consent. I think that many people would agree that there's a certain Dionysian pleasure in getting smashed and sleeping with a stranger - do you (Original Poster, anon@ 5:50) feel as if there's something erotic lost in only having sex while sober?

    ReplyDelete
  10. Anonymous11:35 PM

    I agree with one sentence in that opinion piece. There is "rape" and there is "not-rape". No consent = rape. Consent = not rape. Getting someone too drunk to consent equals no consent.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Anonymous5:38 PM

    According to RAINN, the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network, "even in the 39% of attacks that are reported to the police, there is only a 16.3% chance the rapist will end up in prison." When courts still unfairly treat a woman's sexual history as pertinent to the case and many police jurisdictions mishandle rape kits to deal with 'real crimes' like drug trafficking and murder...let's not get ahead of ourselves by dismissing rape over the less than 2% of false allegations.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Anonymous4:42 PM

    drunk "sex" can be rape. when one party invovled whether the male or the female KNOWS that the other party invovled is too drunk to consent, to the point where he/she doesn't even nkow what happened five minutes after the fact. that is wrog. that is rape. especially when the other party invovled is NOT drunk. if a girl said NO before she was intoxicated. BEING COMPLETELY intoxicated DOES NOT change that no. manipulation at its finest.

    ReplyDelete
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