To acknowledge the importance of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, I met with Simpson College senior and Sexual Assault Response Advocate (SARA) Anna Ronnebaum to discuss sexual violence on college campuses.
Ronnebaum said she joined SARA after multiple sexual assaults occurred on campus her freshman year.
“There was a lot of doubt and a lot of victim blaming, and not a lot happened,” Ronnebaum said. “The perpetrators weren’t getting any of the heat; it was the people who stepped up and reported. I felt like that was so backward and so wrong.”
Victim blaming is a common practice in dealing with rape, and it’s this type of action that “contributes to this rape culture that we live in,” Ronnebaum said.
One example Ronnebaum mentioned is when people scrutinize a victim’s clothing.
“It doesn’t matter what he or she was wearing, nobody deserves to be raped,” Ronnebaum said. “In reality, in people who get raped, the most common article of clothing is a pair of jeans.
“I think a lot of times it’s focuses on women because when you want to look nice you show a little cleavage or show a little leg, and that’s what society tells you is beautiful,” she said. “But at the same time if something were to happen to you, those are the things that they point out.”
As a member of SARA, Ronnebaum educates members of the community on sexual assault. She received a week of intensive training by Polk County Crisis and Advocacy Services to learn how to help victims.
Members rotate carrying the SARA phone, which is a 24-hour confidential hotline. Calls can range from people writing reports and needing information to a person calling to report a sexual assault on campus.
“Some people just want to talk to someone and say it out loud,” Ronnebaum said.
Often, calls are from friends of victims wondering how to help, she said.
“What a lot of people don’t realize is that there are a lot of secondary victims: friends, family, advocates,” Ronnebaum said. “You take on those emotions when someone you care about is hurt.”
Ronnebaum said a major role in her position is educating students.
“Rape is about control and power,” Ronnebaum said.
Often people believe that sexual assaults will never happen on their campuses. The fact is, however, that they do.
My point: Sexual violence can happen anywhere. Your campus isn’t its own little bubble free from this problem.
One in 33 men will experience rape or attempted rape.
Rape, attempted rape or sexual assault happens every two minutes in the United States.
Less than one-third of all sexually violent crimes are reported to the police, and the statistics are even lower for college-age victims.
According to national research, false reports are rare, occurring between 2 percent to 8 percent of the time.
35 percent of men report at least some degree of likelihood of committing rape if they knew they would not be caught or punished.
Statistics courtesy of SARA.
Rape culture is a term used to describe a culture where sexual violence is excused, accepted, and sometimes even given approval. Violence is normalized because it is seen in media and pop culture. People become desensitized to it.
In Dream Worlds 3: Desire, Sex & Power in Music Videos, we are shown how men and women are portrayed in pop culture. Women are often portrayed as passive, while men are dominators.
The video then considers the effect of music videos on the behavior of women and men.
Video clips of the 2000 National Puerto Rican Day Parade are show, where women are sexually assaulted by groups of men. While extremely disturbing, this is a powerful example of the effects of rape culture.
Feminists believe that there is oppression in the world, and often women are the ones being oppressed. They believe that this isn’t natural and can be stopped.
There are many different types of feminists in the world, but their universal goal is gaining equality.
Often when people don’t know about feminism, they mention bra burning. That is only one small event in the universe of feminism. Not all feminists burn their bras.
Feminists aren’t men-haters. In fact, studies show that feminists – whether male or female – have better relationships.
Feminism is not shameful. It seems that people refuse to be called feminists because they associate being a feminist with negative stereotypes.
If you think women should receive equal pay for equal work, you are feminist.
It doesn’t matter your age, race, religion or sex.
While there may have been a few sore feet by the end of the trek, the men supported a great cause and made a statement to all that sexual violence affects everyone.
Plus, seeing men walk in heels makes for a pretty entertaining video.