I recently read the article in the opinion section regarding the assaults committed against women in the Fort Collins area, which looked to rape culture and “the disease of violent masculinity” as to why these assaults are happening. As a male speaking on the issue of women and assault, I run the risk of my opinion being entirely disregarded, but I feel there are some things that need to be said after reading the article.
First of all, I would like to say that my heart goes out to all the victims of rape and sexual assault in our community. For anyone (male, female, trans, genderless) on campus who has experienced a sexual assault or attempted sexual assault, please call the Victim Assistance Team at (970) 492-4242. They take calls 24 hours a day and provide confidential support to victims. Sexual assault is not a joke, should not be taken lightly and there are people who can help you.
With that said, I find many of the statements in this article not only factually incorrect but dangerously misleading. The introduction of the article states that “safety is a privilege … that women disproportionately do not have the opportunity to enjoy in our society.” This could not be further from the truth. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, men are nearly 50 percent more likely to be the victim of a crime, and twice as likely to be the victim of attempted violence as women. In fact, per 1,000 people, 22 men and 15 women will be the victims of an assault.
To say that men have the privilege of safety in society is not only factually incorrect, but a dangerous thing to tell men, especially in their teenage years. Men may feel that they are immune to violence because of their sex and age, and stating that they are privileged to safety when they leave their homes when in reality they are more likely to experience violence could have disastrous consequences.
Secondly, the article insists that the best way to deal with sexual assault is to look towards rape culture, an alleged internalization prominent in our population in which we normalize and trivialize rape, including a quote from the Nation stating that “a violent act is not a tragic event done by a group of crazies.” Is this really the case? Are rapists as common as we are led to believe? According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, about 1 in every 100 men has attempted a sexual assault. According to the CDC, using a broader definition of rape, the number is around 1 in 25. For comparison, other groups that fit this 1 in 25 number include sociopaths, and those who believe lizard-people control the United States government.
To say that rapists are not a fringe minority of the population and insinuate that “violent masculinity” is the cause of sexual assaults not only obfuscates us from finding other causes of rape (sociopathy, for instance) but encourages us against a scientific study of rapists in general. Those who rape in the U.S., for instance, are also very likely to commit other crimes, including robbery and aggravated assault, and many scientific studies have found that over 50 percent of rapists are sociopathic. Sociopaths do not respond to social pressures, and public shaming of rape, while an important step in ending sexual assault, will not stop the majority of serial rapists. In many cases, diseases and disorders play a defining role, and a better understanding of these should play a part in rape prevention.
Sexual assault and violence are very real problems that require a multi-faceted approach in order to be properly combated. Consent campaigns such as CTMO on campus do a great job to ensure men are educated on the definition of rape so that they do not unwittingly commit it. However, it is important to realize that sexual violence is not limited to shortcomings of our society, and being safe and making smart decisions is an important step in preventing rape and violent crime. Be safe, Rams.
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