Categorized | Editorial

Sexual assault and slut-shaming

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“She was acting slutty… It was her own fault… she shouldn’t have drunk so much then.”

Recently, cases of sexual assault at universities as prominent as Notre Dame and Swarthmore have been in the news.  In addition, a nationwide movement of students has charged that colleges are not handling cases properly, resulting in what is commonly called “slut-shaming” or blaming the victim.

Assaults have always been happening but especially in recent years.

Sexual assault as well as “slut-shaming” on college campuses is increasingly becoming more of a norm throughout the nation.

Slut-shaming is a term used to put down women (typically), by the way they dress.  As if it is justified that a man can rape women or “feel her up” if she has a low-cut shirt on.  These two issues can in no way, shape or form, be justified.

Under the Clery Act, it is mandatory that all schools in the United States have a mandated safety and security report that allows all students, faculty and staff the ability to look at the safety statistics of the institution. 

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), “an estimated 22 million women in the United States and roughly 1.6 million men have been raped in their lifetimes.”

Why is this continuously an issue? What is legislation doing about this?  Why is there not more transparency in our laws?

April is the National Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and according to the Chronicle for Higher Education, President Obama “unveiled stringent new guidelines on Tuesday, April 29, to help colleges combat sexual assault and provide victims with a ‘road map’ to file complaints against institutions that fall short in their responses.”

Guidelines include:

  1. At beginning of next year, conduct surveys to gauge the prevalence of sexual assault and learn more about students’ attitudes towards it.
  2. Train campus officials on how to respond to victims of sexual assault.
  3. Provide victims with greater options to speak confidentially with certain campus officials.
  4. Have disciplinary processes abide by new directives from the Department of Education.
  5. provide much more information about the enforcement of Title IX —which outlines colleges’ legal obligations to prevent, investigate, and resolve reports of sexual assault whether or not law-enforcement authorities get involved.

These guidelines would call for greater transparency in federal enforcement of civil-rights laws, and what many student activists see as a systemic problem: a lack of coordination among federal authorities charged with enforcing civil-rights laws, and little transparency in their actions.

These types of guidelines are necessary for all institutions to have. In fact, laws such as these should have been implemented years ago. Maybe then there would be an ample decrease in rapes, sexual assaults, and sexual harassment because there is no room for offenders to get through the broken system.

An important question which relates back to this issue is are colleges around the world, like many organizations, trying to preserve their reputation?  It is mandated to publicize all security information under the Clery Act, but what about slut-shaming?  It is obviously part of the problem.  If excuses are continuously made for people’s unjust and awful actions, then how can anything change?

Cabrini College recognizes that sexual assault, rape, and other sex offenses constitute crimes that have medical, psychological, educational, social, sexual and legal implications for the victim. The College conducts ongoing educational programs to promote awareness and prevention of rape, acquaintance rape and other sex offenses. In the last three years a movement by students has mounted to change the ways Cabrini and all colleges hadle sexual assault.

According to Cabrini College’s Public Safety Annual Security Report, in 2010 there were no reported forcible sexual assaults, in 2011 there were four reported forcible sexual assaults and another two that occurred in fall of 2006 but were not reported until 2011. In 2012 there were three forcible sexual assaults and another one that occurred in fall of 2010 but was not reported until 2012.

It should never be an excuse that a woman/man was “asking for it” by what they were wearing that evening or that they were making suggesting innuendos, if someone says stop or no that should be the end of discussion.

Mackenzie Harris

About Mackenzie Harris

Junior communication major, social justice and leadership double minor, Editor-In-Chief for The Loquitur, Social Media Intern for Cabrini College Office of Admissions, Head of Communication for Cabrini's CRS Campus Ambassadors, Admission's Student Ambassador, Published Poet, member of Cabrini's Alpha Lambda Delta National Honors Society and member of the Ad and Promotion Club

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