I want to start out this blog post by saying; anyone can be a victim of sexual assault. Regardless of gender, sexual orientation, age, or race, victims deserve our full support. That being said, the majority of sexual assaults occur with a female victim and a male perpetrator. For the sake of keeping things simple, I will now refer to instances of sexual assaults involving a female victim and a male perpetrator. Victims who do not fit that scenario should still be believed, taken seriously, and seek help if needed.
One in four college women will experience some form of sexual assault before she receives her undergraduate degree. Coming from the US Department of Justice, that means 25% of us will experience sexual assault before we graduate. With the news of the sex offender that used to come to McPhee, students are worried. Talk about the buddy system has been rampant lately. Now, if not walking alone or carrying pepper spray makes you feel safe, great, but 90% of rapes are perpetrated by someone the victim knows. Stranger rape does happen, and it’s very serious, but the best way to make UWEC safer is to educate everyone on what consent is, and when it doesn’t exist. Frankly, we’re not doing that great of a job.
A textbook definition of consent is a freely given yes, not the absence of a no. To truly understand consent you need to ask yourself, what makes for good sex? I’m sure everyone has different preferences, but we can all agree that sex is when all participants are enjoying the experience. Both participants feel able to speak up and ask for what they like and don’t like. Everyone is aware of risks of pregnancy, STIs, and prevention.
Alcohol and drug use are HUGE barriers to consent. If you or your partner is under the influence of either, consent is harder to get. It is vital at that point that a conversation happens. “Do you want to have sex with me?” “I want to touch your [body part] with my [body part], is that alright?” Think about what goes into giving consent. If a woman is slurring her words, how is she supposed to communicate what she enjoys in bed? If she’s having trouble walking, she’s going to have trouble communicating what she uses for birth control. If she’s passed out, she has no way to tell her partner if she has an STI, or ask if he has one.
Alcohol is also used as a tool to facilitate rape. You’ve heard the song Blame It by Jamie Foxx where he sings, “Couple more shots she’ll open up like a book.” Society tells us that getting someone drunk makes it easier to have sex with her, and that’s somehow okay. That thought process leads to sexual assault.
If you like going out, meeting someone, and having sex with them, awesome. Drinking does not necessarily mean consent cannot be given, just that it is harder to get. Make sure you are asking your partner if he or she want to have sex with you every. single. time. In my experience, drunk people are great at taking care of other drunk people. If I’m at a party and someone has had too much to drink, people make sure the person has water, a trashcan, and is lying on his or her side. It’s common sense that people who’ve been drinking are dehydrated, and we get them water. Someone who’s been drinking also is limited in her ability to give consent, and making sure you’re explicit with what you want to do should also be common sense.
The final piece I want to leave you with is false rape allegations do not happen as often as people think. Less than 2% of reported rapes are false allegations; that’s the same as any other crime. The majority of those cases involve someone with a mental illness. Women who regret a drunken one night stand or vengeful ex-girlfriends do not “cry rape.” If you don’t believe me, think of what goes into reporting a rape. You have to go to the police and describe every detail of what happened. Would you want to go and tell a complete stranger every move in your last sexual encounter? Imagine if it was something you regretted. According to a study done by the American Association of University Women, 43% of college-aged men reported using coercive behavior (ignoring protests, using physical aggression, forcing intercourse) to have sex, but did not admit to rape. The fact of the matter is, women aren’t lying about getting raped, men just don’t think they’re doing it. If someone tells you she’s been sexually assaulted, believe her. She’s not lying.
In order to make this university safer for everyone, we need to educate ourselves. Sexual assault is real and is happening around us, most often by someone the victim knows. Consent is essential to having good sex. If your partner is not able to enjoy herself and talk about pregnancy and STI prevention, you don’t have consent and you can’t have sex. Be cautious when drinking and look out for your fellow Blugolds. No matter what, believe a victim when she’s told you she’s been sexually assaulted.
The following are resources available for students for anonymous help for victims and friends of victims:
- Center for Awareness of Sexual Assault (CASA), 715-836-4357, Old Library 2119
- Student Health Services, 715-836-5360, Crest 150
- Counseling Services, 715-836-5521, Old Library 2122
- For Off-Campus help: SANE examinations are available at both Sacred Heart (900 W Clairemont Ave) and Mayo (1400 Bellinger St) hospitals
If your group, organization, team, dorm, etc. would like a presentation and facilitated discussion on consent, sexual assault, and rape culture, contact Katie Wilson and SWAT at firstname.lastname@example.org.