Sexual Assault: A Double Standard

By Samantha Krier

Parents tend to try to protect their female children from sexual assault by any means possible, which mostly means limiting their freedom. The same attitude does not tend to apply to male children because many parents feel that male children are stronger and will not be overtaken by female children. Further, they feel as if males will welcome any attention from females, and could not be raped or assaulted in the first place. This creates a double standard in the way that male and female children are raised. This double standard causes differences in the way that males and females are viewed, which cause societal issues in the way that genders are treated. This is especially true if someone is not a Cisgender male or female, in which they might be treated badly because they do not identify as the typical male or female.

This double standard continues into adulthood, where parents are still afraid for their daughters’ safety, but they do not worry so much about their sons’ safety when it comes to sexual assault. I know that when I went to college, I was given so many pink security accessories that I had nowhere to put them all. I had a pink, heart-shaped keychain accessory that when pressed, sounded an ear-shattering alarm. I had pink pepper spray that I had to take off my keychain because I was afraid it would go off in my purse. I had a little black Kubaton, which was a stick that you put on your keychain to use if you got attacked in a parking lot. All of these accessories were gifts from my parents for when I went to college. This isn’t unusual. Girls get pepper spray while boys get condoms.

Image of a little girl looking at a little boy on a playground
Image from Creative Commons

This is because women are at a higher risk for sexual assault when on college campuses. 11.2% of all students experience it during their time at college. This why women are given rape whistles. Men, on the other hand, are given condoms because this is the time when they are expected to have more sex. Parents understand these two ideas, but they do not seem to link them together. They understand that their daughters are at higher risk of being assaulted, but not that their sons are at higher risk of being a perpetrator. Parents will try to protect their daughters from sexual assault by every method except teaching their children consent, self-control, and empathy. If parents taught their children these things, they could save someone else’s child from sexual assault, which in turn would save their own children.

This cognitive dissonance occurs when parents buy their daughters rape whistles and playfully give their sons condoms. Parents know that rape is statistically higher in college, but they only protect their daughters. They firstly do not understand that the statistic is for both children, but they also do not think that their sons would rape someone. I understand, because most parents know and raise their children from when they were small and innocent and they stay that way in parents’ minds. No parent ever wants to hear that their child committed a crime or hurt someone. No parent wants to believe that. Most of all, no parent wants to think that they were the reason their child hurt someone.

The #MeToo movement is just starting to shed light on how widespread sexual assault and sexual harassment are, and it is a topic that is finally getting some attention. Men and women are now able to tell their stories without being drowned out by those who support the perpetrator. The Harvey Weinstein conviction was a huge win for this movement, and was a step in the right direction in making sure perpetrators get justice. I feel that in past generations parents did not really understand why their children committed crimes like this. The link between these behaviors and how they were raised was unknown or ignored. Consent has only been a popular topic online recently, as many men and women did not understand it. Many people did not understand the difference between a consensual sexual encounter and sexual assault, which is terrifying.

Because consent is a new topic, many parents of college-aged adults or older did not have the chance to teach their kids about it. They may not have thought they needed to teach the concept, so their kids never learned it. Parents that are raising children now need to make consent a part of the sex talk. Make it a huge part of the sex talk. (We also need to expand sex education to make it comprehensive in order to take into account all parts of the spectrum and all -or most- situations, but that’s a whole other post.) The way that we can reduce these horrible statistics is to educate our children and other adults on topics like these. The future generation will be better for it and treat each other more considerately.

Women in the Military

By Samantha Baugh 

Feminism faces many different arguments around the world from such drastically different perspectives. Our country is not so far behind in feminist equality as others. US News ranked the top ten worst countries for gender equality and, thankfully, we aren’t on it. Indeed, we live in a very progressive society for gender equality, all things considered. We are allowed and encouraged to have conversations that might not be acceptable elsewhere. Universities across the nation have active Women’s Centers in which feminists cast their voices and experiences. One of the arguments feminism faces is whether or not women should be allowed into active combat. Women who want to be in active combat deserve to be there. 

a woman peeks her upper body out of the top of a tank, dressed in camo, hat, and earmuffs. She is holding a large gun and holds it read.
“A female of the armored Bundeswehr participates in an exercise in September 2018 near Munster, Germany. 
Alexander Koerner/Getty Images” from Business Insider

The U.S is not so far behind on its progressive action to include women in its armed and active forces. According to an article from Military Times, “As of Aug. 1, all infantry, armor and field artillery battalions assigned to active-duty brigade combat teams include female soldiers.” The previous Sergeant Major of the Army, Daniely Dailey, says that the U.S. Army is including women ahead of schedule. He says that despite how small the percentages are of women in these battalions, it is still a success to have as many as they do. He also assures that despite more women being present, there is not a spike in sexual assault cases as was expected and feared. 

Continue reading “Women in the Military”

Then to Now: An Analysis of Rape Culture

hsb
Heart Shaped Bruise” by Nan Goldin, 1980

Warning: The information that follows is explicit in nature and will discuss sexual violence and other sensitive topics.

By Remington Jensen

Continue reading “Then to Now: An Analysis of Rape Culture”

Understanding Intimate Partner Violence

grasp
Source: https://unilaglss.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/wpid-domestic-violence.jpg?w=673&zoom=2

By Remington Jensen

When searching for “spouse abuse statistics” on Google, a recommended question by the search engine popped up, asking the question “When did it become illegal to beat your wife?” Taken aback, I read the sentence again, a sentence that sounded like the question asker was displeased about now missing out on an antiquated and unbecoming act, like that of spousal abuse.

My eyes were bouncing back and forth on the search page like a Newton’s cradle, reading the sentence repetitively to decipher why the question sounded like an angsty child whose bedtime was moved to an hour earlier. I wondered why the opposite didn’t reveal itself to me. I wondered how the idea of spousal abuse was less of a tragedy and more of a indulgence to men, and why this terrible act seemed to weigh more towards women not being victims but rather exclusive figures to lash anger out onto.

Why has this malicious act of violence towards women become less of a crime and more of a phenomenon of missing out? Is it because for decades men have been allowed a legal and cultural right to abuse women? Is it because despite spousal abuse being made illegal in the 1920s, modern attention towards and advocacy against domestic abuse didn’t surface until the 1970s?

It would be outlandish to even think that such an antiquated problem as domestic abuse would even still be a problem in the age of Facebook and cell phone cameras, right?

Continue reading “Understanding Intimate Partner Violence”

The Things I carry

Carry

Women all over the world carry objects, purses, keys, water bottles, pepper spray, knives, tasers, and even concealed weapons for self-defense. We also go to and from places in groups, we “dress accordingly”, we mind our manners, and we even avoid certain events or areas, such as Greek-row at night, just to feel safe. I walk two blocks to my car after work, and I always try to be on the phone, or carry something that I am mentally prepared to fight back with. It’s a scary world we live in and even in the nicest neighborhood anything could happen. Furthermore, statistically speaking, anything is more likely to happen to women, regardless of our measures so what can we do?

Frankly, we shouldn’t have to do anything. Robbers, attackers and rapists don’t care who you are. If they target you, you are a target, there is no getting around that. However, there are measures we as women can take to defend ourselves, and though we shouldn’t have to, it’s better to know how to do it and not need it than to need that information and not know it.

From a young age I was taught how to box. My Dad is a large man, a gentle giant, and he thought that around age twelve, that I should learn how to defend myself in some way. You know when I began to go out on my own around the neighborhood, when I started hanging out with boys, and pre-emptive puberty was beginning to rear its head. It was fun, it was great exercise and I loved spending that time with my Dad. Then, there were times though he would get really serious he told me, “Hit them, make noise, and try to run away. Aim for center mass, (Groin, stomach, throat, head, nose, eyes, ribs) and, if you can’t run you keep hitting them until they can’t hurt you,” I asked him what he meant by that. He looked at me his tone getting stern, “Boug, if someone pins you and want’s to hurt you, you knock them unconscious. That might not work though, if they’re going to get up and try to hurt you before you can get away you hit them and don’t stop hitting them until they can’t. If someone wants to hurt you and you can’t get away, you try to kill them,” That stuck with me, and the boxing with my Dad suddenly became something else. As an adult this is a terrifying concept, and as a kid I couldn’t put it into words. I couldn’t fathom fighting someone off yet alone killing them. Taking a life? What did that mean?

Now that I’m older, I still don’t know that I could it. I certainly don’t want to but if someone wanted to hurt me, what could I do?

My Dad is not a violent man. My Dad has always been my safe space and protector. He fears for me on a level I am still only beginning to understand and in this world we live in I finally understand his point.

Unconscious people wake up, men fight through tasers and pepper spray, law enforcement of any kind is trained to do that, and then what? Most of the time they’re that much angrier. So how do we fight back? How do we learn?

When I was eighteen, I chose to take self-defense classes. These classes are offered at certain gyms, and on campus. It was empowering, and our class had primarily women students. I taught some of the basics to my friends. I learned how to disarm someone. It brought me peace to know my own capability, but it still wasn’t as easy when my sparring partner was a man larger than me because I couldn’t get the same momentum and I had to learn to adjust.

In the moment I don’t know that I could adjust. I really don’t, and it terrifies me. I wish women didn’t live with this fear but we do and while I’m not going to say learn self-defense, that’s your choice, but it’s not a bad idea. Learn how to throw a punch, don’t be afraid of hitting, get down get dirty, be a nasty woman, be dangerous because we live in a dangerous world. Don’t do it for fear though. Do it for you. Bring yourself peace of mind, tell your friends in your groups, at bars, show them how to fight in short skirts and how to disable someone reaching for their hijab or other religious headcovering.

Studies have shown that most attackers/rapist are cowards, and if you can fight back and make noise even for a few minutes they will run away and that could save your life. Your life matters, what you do with it matters and if you can protect it for a few minutes you could save it yourself. If you don’t want to learn self-defense though, it’s not your fault. Let me repeat that. IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT WHAT AN ATTACKER DOES OR DOES NOT DO TO YOU.

Even the most prepared women can still be hurt because, as much as they try, there will always be someone stronger, bigger and more prepared for the fight than they are. Self-defense training will not magically make you the best or more able, but it might just give you the leg up to get out of there and that’s all that really matters, and sometimes it’s as simple as hitting someone over the head with your metal water bottle.

Please stay safe. I hope you never need any of it. I wish we lived in a world where I felt I didn’t need it. Right now though we do, and I hope this helps inform you.

Work Place Entrapment

Not asking for it

“I did work at a mall in college- I think working retail/customer service is one of the most hideous jobs in the world.” – Jayma Mays (Actress/Singer)

I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks so. I have in worked in retail since high school, in almost every capacity. While I made some great connections while working at those places, the job of putting on a happy face and trying to help everyone is exhausting. And what made it worse? Even after I was at my job for two years and was trained as a manager, no one believed I, a young woman, knew anything.

They would ask to speak with the department managers, or in a few cases, ask if there was a man they could speak to. Both men and women have done this and are probably doing it somewhere right now, much to my chagrin. Most of us are familiar with this narrative, but unless you’ve worked a service job or talked intimately with someone who has faced these issues, you can’t imagine how retail employees feel trapped. I think it’s high time to shed a little light on this.

Every retailer store I’ve worked at uses the classic model “the customer is always right”. That’s not a bad way to treat people who have gotten a bum product or have questions, but it is very seldom true. The customer is not always right.

Correcting customers in the wrong is like herding cats. They could just go with it, they might realize what you’re trying to do, but most of them will go their own way or may snap at you. This creates fear of the customer, especially when they change very quickly.

You’re probably thinking, but wait, isn’t the company supposed to protect employees? Can’t management handle these situations?

Companies, say they can and managers can only handle so much and most of them aren’t even prepared to handle situations. Training videos might describe and demonstrate how to handle a grumpy customer or when to get a manager, but every situation is unique and management just can’t always be there. This creates both a feeling of independence and one of isolation.

Now for the most part there is hope—grumpy customers usually just vent or go to Customer Service or can be handed off to a department. The problem I have faced as a woman is when primarily male customers start to get to friendly, flirt, ask out, or in a few cases make blatantly sexual advancements. In my case, I’m lucky none of them have gotten physical, but that is not always the case.

I worked with a girl, we’ll call her Gene. Gene worked in a clothing store, and she was helping a man find some pants. Management was in a meeting and while we all had our radios on, we all had different projects in a fairly large store. Gene helped the man even though she could “feel his eyes wandering.” They talked for a while, because in the world of retail you want to get to know your customers to help them. He started making comments, trying to flirt. Gene felt uncomfortable but was polite, trying to keep things professional. He took this politeness as an invitation to ask her out. She declined. He got very mad and started yelling all sorts of obscenities which I heard, and I rushed over to ask the man as politely as possible to leave. He called me and the other mostly female workers other obscenities, and then management escorted him out of the building.

Now if you’re wondering why Gene didn’t radio for back-up initially, let me remind you. In retail/customer service positions, politeness is key. Presentation is key. You cannot be rude to a customer unless it is a last resort, because bad behavior on your part reflects poorly on the store, and in many places can get you into trouble. We had a good management team but it’s hard to call for back-up when your customer is standing right there watching your every move. In some cases, it’s genuinely terrifying. So radioing for back-up vaguely usually results in “What do you need?” “Is it a question I can answer?”, and when you don’t have a radio, you can’t just hand a customer off to someone else in the same way at all.

I can tell you that after this, we developed phrases, we had signals, and for a while we tried to help customers in pairs because it was so scary. There is no one you protect more than your friends at work, because they really do become your family.

The worst thing is though, while not to this extreme those little microaggressions that have made me as a woman uncomfortable happen every day, and retail workers have to put up with them. Eyes will look everywhere they shouldn’t, people will get asked if they have significant others, what they’re doing later, when they get off, etc. Certain regulars will pick you and go only through your line and say “See you later” in an all-too-familiar tone. The worst things that happened to me were verbal, but I refused to interact with those customers again, and I told my management so. Did I still have to interact with them if there was no one else around? Yes. Did I plan my quickest escape route as soon as I registered they were in the store? Yes. Did I smile and do my job despite my skin crawling? Yes.

Is politeness while someone working a reason to flirt with that person?

No, it is not. It never is. They’re doing their jobs and their job should not include compromising themselves so that you leave happy.

Or at least that’s what every retail handbook says.

End the Violence Against American Indian and Alaska Native Women

By Madeleine Clow

Disclaimer: Native American Indian Tribal People do not identify themselves under one label. “The question is usually posed as, ‘do you prefer to X ,Y , Z?’ to which I am expected to choose from one and categorize who I am, further marginalizing myself, and possibly someone else. It’s always difficult to answer this question because ‘I’ do not necessarily identify with any of these terms.” – Courtney Tsotigh-Yarholar, Indian Country Today

Native American history has been riddled with genocide and pain since the introduction of colonialism. The Trail of Tears is a painful memory of the forced relocation and resettlement of the Native American people to their current reservations. Originally, 15 million Native Americans began the Trail of Tears—today, there are a total of 5 million. Contemporary Americans may not be familiar with the history of the past century of Native Americans in the United States. In the late 19th and early 20th century, Native American children were forced to attend Indian Boarding School, in order, to “kill the Indian, save the man.” More recently, in the 1960s and 1970s, thousands of Native American women unknowingly went through forced sterilization by the Indian Health Service, because they were deemed unable to use other forms of birth control on their own.

These malicious acts made against Native Americans caused deep distress and dejection throughout Indian nations, that continues to affect their lives today. The unemployment rate among American Indians today is 85 percent. American Indians are 500 percent more likely to die of alcoholism than the average American. The suicide rate among American Indians is 62 percent higher than the average American. Native youth have the highest rate of suicide among any other ethnic group in the United States. One in ten American Indians become victims of violent crime. A recent study showed that the vast majority of Native women in the United States have experienced sexual assault or rape. According to the Indian Law Resource Center, “More than 4 in 5 American Indian and Alaska Native women have experienced violence, and more than 1 in 2 have experienced sexual violence.” Why is this happening and what can we do to help American Indian and Alaska Native women? Continue reading “End the Violence Against American Indian and Alaska Native Women”