By Sara McDonald
After a hard road of fighting to be heard, women everywhere rejoiced when the former vice president rallied college students to stop the culture that excuses derogative “locker room talk” and sexual assault.
It was a moment that signified every Slut Walk, Rainn counseling session and One Act workshop was not in vain. We were getting somewhere as a community, and more importantly as a culture.
Vice President Joe Biden, with the full backing of President Barack Obama, spoke out against “rape culture” and rallied students to get behind his “It’s On Us” campaign, urging people to “take the pledge and make a personal commitment to keep women and men safe from sexual assault.”
With their stance, they took action. They cracked down on laws that questioned, patronized and even scared victims away from seeking justice.
Because of the severity of sexual assault, rape and the lack of justice due to normalizing and trivializing sexual abuse; the Chronicle of Higher Education has been tracking the federal government’s investigation into the possible mishandling of sexual assault reports. As of Saturday the federal government has conducted 429 investigations nationwide. So far 71 cases have been solved and 358 remain open.
This is with the current Obama-era standard of evidence that was implemented in 2011.
However, these numbers only account for the cases of rape and sexual assault that are reported.
Commonly referred to as the most under reported and prosecuted crime in the United States, sexual assault victims rarely come forward.
In fact, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, more than 90 percent of victims of sexual assault on college campuses did not report the crime. 20 percent of victims said they did not report it because they feared reprisal and 10 percent believed the police could not or would not do anything to help. What does this mean?
It means that rape and sexual assault is a cultural problem and unless we continue to make strides against our prior ideology of how to deal with sexual assault and rape, we will go backward instead of forwards.
Women should not be taught “don’t get raped” or to watch what they wear or how much they drink —instead we should be teaching our children to take no for an answer, because other people’s bodies are not theirs to have a say over.
We should be marching alongside our victims, who are not treated correctly by our society. We should help her carry that mattress across the stage to get her degree, not make her scared to come forward.
I wish I could say that this is what I am seeing. After hearing such strong speeches and seeing actions like the “It’s On Us” campaign, I was proud of my generation and culture. I felt like I could breathe again. But I can’t say that now. I fear we are going back to square one.
Instead of picking up where our former leaders left off, Betsy DeVos, the new secretary of education in the administration of Donald Trump, has claimed she may reconsider the Obama-era guidelines. Why, because we need to be fair to the perpetrators?
Let’s be clear, whatever punishment a criminal receives from committing a crime is a direct result of their actions.
If you commit a crime, you deserve to be punished. Why would a sexual assault or rape case be any different? No one feels sorry for a thief that threw away his college or career to steal a car. So why are we feeling remorse for a rapist?
The focus should remain on the victim. The victim will have a lifetime of therapy and psychological issues as a result of their sexual assault or rape.
For example, according to scholars at Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, 50 to 90 percent of rape victims develop PTSD, and Rape Victim Advocates said that 50 percent of victims are forced to quit or lose their job in the year following their rape.
What I am saying is that I hope we do not go back to the barbaric ideology that thinks three months in jail to guys like Brock Turner is a “steep price for 20 minutes of action,” as Mr. Turner’s father would have you believe.
Three months in jail is not my idea of a steep price. The only steep price that is paid is by the victims who will spend 20 years to a lifetime of sleepless nights because they are battling nightmares due to someone believing they had a right to force them into doing something that they did not consent to. That is a price that is too heavy for even the strongest of women and minds but unfortunately victims still find themselves paying it.
In regards to my university being sued because Sam Goetz believes he should have a life without a formal expulsion following him around, makes me furious.
What about his victim having depression and a sense of powerlessness following her around?
He was expelled from school and forced to step down from student government, because our school took action. Our school stood up for an all too common unheard voice.
They made a pledge to protect us by expelling Goetz. If he wins this lawsuit, which he very well may, I want it to be known that I will still be proud to be a Bull.
I will gladly continue to give money into an institution that still embodies the ideas of the Obama administration; to fight victim blaming and to create a culture and community that never forces an abused woman to ask “what did I do?”