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Monday, October 18, 2021

Opinion

Don’t dance around the word “rape”


There’s a population of college men who admit they would rape a woman if they could get away without any consequences or anyone knowing. This brings to light the rising problem of people unwilling to call rape what it is — rape.

A 2014 study found that over 31 percent of participants said they would have “intentions to force a woman to sexual intercourse” if there were no repercussions. In the same study, 13.6 percent of the same participants said they would have “intentions to rape a woman,” in comparison to the alternatively worded option.

The difference between the responses towards rape and “the intention of forcing a woman to sexual intercourse” indicates discrepancies on what correspondents believe constitutes as rape. Rather than simply calling it rape, the survey relied on describing what constitutes as sexual assault.

While the definition of rape varies from state to state, the key message is that it’s an act without the victim’s consent. With this definition in mind, these results suggest that some men would commit the act of rape, but not call it so. By describing the acts of rape, instead of just labeling, the survey resulted in more men admitting to sexually coercive behaviors.

Stories of sexual assaults on college campuses were rampant in 2014, and it’s been three years since the government issued new guidelines for colleges to handle sexual violence.

Businessweek outlined several stories about rape and how colleges handled sexual assault cases in the past year.

This isn’t anything new to college campuses, but what’s changing is how schools are approaching the conversation around consent and sexual assault. If schools are updating their safety policies and educating their students, the likelihood of sexual assaults can drop.

UH has seen its fair share of sexual assault cases, including one in September in which a student reported she was sexually assaulted by an acquaintance in her dorm at Cougar Village 2.

Additionally, an article from the Houston Chronicle reported a couple that sued the University earlier in October after an alleged sex assault in 2011.

People avoid reporting rape because of the stigmas that come with being a victim or attacker of sexual assault.

“People don’t realize that what’s happened to them is considered sexual assault, and sometimes it’s hard for people to come to terms with that,” said art sophomore Mackenna Cotten. “When these incidents aren’t reported, they’re not only hurting themselves, but other potential victims as well.”

According to the Huffington Post, the victims are also found to shy away from using “rape” to define their experience of forced intercourse. Many undergraduate females tend to downplay their own experience based on the survey results from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The survey found that 17 percent of female undergrads and 5 percent of male undergrads report experiencing specific unwanted sexual behaviors involving the use of force, physical threat or incapacitation. That percentage dwindled down to 10 percent of females and the same 5 percent males corresponding with “yes” when they were directly asked if they were sexually assaulted.

“I don’t know who the subject is more touchy for — men or women,” Cotten said. “It’s a huge problem when you have college students — who are here to get an education, figure out who they are and what they want to do in life — feel like they aren’t in a safe environment. These statistics aren’t going down unless students aren’t educated about what rape is and how to find help.”

UH thoroughly details what consent is and outlines the differences between effective and ineffective consent with the Coogs Get Consent campaign. When coercion, trickery, intimidation or threats of any kind are used, it’s a circumstance in which consent is not given. Just as if a person is asleep or unaware of their surroundings, it’s not consensual.

“I’m glad UH has these proactive programs. The same can’t be said for all college campuses across the country,” Ramirez said. “It doesn’t matter what the circumstances are, rape is rape.”

Opinion columnist Gemrick Curtom is a public relations senior and may be reached at [email protected]

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