In the first paragraph of a recent opinion piece published in the Nov. 1 edition of The Daily Campus, the author discusses the increase in the number of sexual assaults on campus, going on to say that although the perpetrators are responsible for the crime of assaulting someone, “they can’t be the only ones taking blame.” There’s a term for this: victim blaming. And it hurts.
At the end of the day, you wouldn’t tell a victim of gun violence that it was their fault for being intoxicated. You wouldn’t blame victims of a mugging that they should have prevented it. Why is sexual assault different?
We need to consider the kinds of messages the stories published in The Daily Campus send to their readers. At best, this one was inconsiderate and insensitive. At worst, it was hostile and accusatory towards women who have been victims of a violent crime. The fact that SMU has heard about more sexual assaults this year than in any recent years doesn’t necessarily mean that there have been more assaults. It could mean that more women feel safe coming forward and reporting their assaults. That is a hard decision to make for any woman, and articles like this will only discourage women from doing so in the future.
Now, I’m sure the author of this article didn’t intend to come off as a rape apologist. I think their intentions were in the right place. It’s important that women take measures to protect themselves from all kinds of violations that can occur on a college campus or anywhere else.
But why are we singling out women here? Men are just as likely to binge drink (in fact, many studies have suggested that they are more likely). Instead of singling out female victims, why don’t we address the culture on campus that promotes binge drinking to the point where women are unable to give consent? Why don’t we teach men that women physically cannot give consent at that point of intoxication?
I honestly believe that the majority of men, especially those here on campus, want to do the right thing. Blaming rape on women who choose to drink is denying that men should know better than to take advantage of a woman who is intoxicated. I believe SMU men are better than that.
At the end of the day, no matter how many safety precautions women and men take, the simple truth is this: it’s not a woman’s job to not get raped. It’s men’s job to not rape.
Day is a junior majoring in psychology and English.