We All Agree Sexual Assault Is Evil. But How Do We Address It?
COVID-19 has caused a vast amount of change in a short amount of time. The economy was booming and in a matter of days ground to a halt. Adults were at work. Kids were at school. Toilet paper wasn’t a rare commodity. Most people weren’t wearing masks out in public. So much has changed and it’s okay to wonder if anything will ever get back to “normal”.
But there has been some good to come from this. We have had more time to pray. We have had more time to spend with our loved ones and have learned to appreciate them more. We have a new appreciation of freedom; we, in these United States, used to take coming and going freely for granted. We have realigned our priorities. We have had quality memes created and shared on social media to make us laugh and smile in this time of fear and confusion. But we have also been given more time to think.
What should I be doing with my life? What episode of Friends should I rewatch for the millionth time? Is there anything new in the refrigerator, even though I checked it five minutes ago? What is going to happen to my job? When will all of this be over? Why can’t I help my seven-year-old with their math homework? When can I go to the beach again and not be fearful of who might be sick? So many different questions have come to mind. But one question that has crossed my mind and I have spent much time pondering on is: How do we as a society handle the problems of sexual assault and allegations of sexual assault? We all hate sexual assault. We all hate rape. But we seem to be unable to come to a consensus concerning how to handle these issues.
I am no fan of the MeToo movement; it’s incredibly dangerous. However, I believe Tarana Burke had good intentions to start with. But then the movement turned into “#MeToo” and became a trend. When something becomes a trend…run for the hills.
On February 24th, the Miramax co-founder, Harvey Weinstein, was found guilty of two counts of sexual assault and is now waiting for his trial in California to begin. Weinstein, as is now well-documented, is just one of many high profile men to be accused of sexual misconduct. The talented and controversial NFL wide-receiver, Antonio Brown is another, as is Matt Lauer, former co-host of NBC’s Today Show. Then, there is former national dad and current social pariah, Bill Cosby. The list of accused famous personalities goes on and on. But what about the rest of us? #MeToo situations, of course, happen among everyday men and women, too. Unfortunately, in the workplace, women are being avoided. 25% of men don’t meet privately with women at work; 20% of men are reluctant to hire an attractive woman. 15% of women answered they would be reluctant to hire women for jobs that involve interactions between men and women. It’s gotten so bad that — in 2018 — men began to have women create “consent videos”, where women are recorded by the men saying that they give consent to have sex with the man. There is clearly a growing sense of fear and mistrust between the sexes.
In order to remedy this, I have three suggestions.
First of all, a great deal of mistrust may stem from misleading and exaggerated reports of how frequently rape occurs, thus leading to widespread wariness towards men. So, how do we define “rape”, “sexual assault”, “sexual misconduct” or other terms like these? There is a common statistic out there that 1 in 6 women (some studies say 1 in 5) has been the victim of either rape or attempted rape, but this statistic is flat-out wrong. If that is indeed an accurate statistic, women would rarely leave their homes, let alone go on dates, to bars, or do other recreational activities involving men being around. In 2013, according to an FBI study, the rate of rape for girls and women was 25.2 out of 100,000. These other statistics would be saying that out of 100,000 women and girls in the United States, anywhere from 16,000 to 20,000 of them are raped! This statistic is exceedingly and emphatically false. South Africa has the highest rate in the world of 132.4 out of 100,000. As Heather Mac Donald similarly argued, the 2006 Detroit violent crime wave of 2.4%, which involved homicides, robberies, rapes, and other violent crimes, was absolutely horrible. Detroit was considered the most violent city in the country at that time. A 16.6% crime rate — or 20% violent crime rate is unimaginable. At college and university campuses, the 1 in 6 statistic is frequently repeated; however, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1 in 52.6 college women have been raped or sexually assaulted. Little wonder distrust would be on the rise when we are so frequently fed unbelievably misleading statistics about the prevalence of sexual assault.
Second, there’s no denying that alcohol is a big factor in sexual assault situations. According to Alcohol.org’s recent updates from last month, 43% of victims of sexual assault, and 69% of perpetrators consumed alcohol during events of sexual assault. This ought not to be terribly surprising, given that alcohol is a significant contributing variable when it comes to homicides, suicides, and divorces, as well. Women are more likely to regret sleeping with someone they just met the night before, feeling “used”, “cheap”, “dirty” “easy” or some other negative emotion. And, unfortunately, alcohol is very frequently at-play in these cases There are sites, like powertodecide.org where they discuss consent and alcohol: There is a line where they say: “If you felt too drunk to say no, or if you were otherwise impaired, and someone did something to you anyway, that’s considered sexual assault.” This is quite a statement to say because just one drink can impair a person. Many times alcohol is the scapegoat when people have sex that they regret; that’s unacceptable because that shirks responsibility. Drinking and having sex with strangers along with drinking to the point of obliviousness are roads to regrettable decisions and destruction. Real rape victims' stories aren’t taken as seriously because their stories can be lumped together with other stories that involve people getting too drunk, having sex, then regretting it later or being emotionally hurt by the person.
Third, the paradigm of just believing people who claim to be the victim of a crime must be abated. Sexual assault cases are already difficult to investigate. “Victims” dislike sharing their stories. “Perpetrators” are immediately vilified. In these cases, there are usually only two witnesses: the two individuals involved. The actual truth about these events is unknown. This is what the legal system is for: Finding out the truth. Questions often come up by allies of the “victim”: Why would they lie? Why would a person lie? This is really no argument at all. People lie all the time about a variety of topics. Look at Breana Talbot. She went into a church and claimed three black men raped her. She took the time to self-inflict injuries to make her story appear believable. But after police investigations, the entire story unraveled and was exposed to be a hoax. Look at Emma Sulkowicz, who caused Paul Nungesser, a former student at Columbia, to be ostracized from his job and social network, ruining his life. Emma and Paul were friends who became friends-with-benefits, but it ended up not working out. Emma claimed that Paul had raped her but there were numerous amicable messages after the alleged rape took place, proving she lied. She continued to lie, including about how he still went to Columbia at a point when she knew he had left the country entirely. People lie for all types of reasons and unfortunately, sexual assault is another topic people lie about. Rape is a horrific crime that negatively affects a person’s physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. It’s not about feelings and being believed, but truth and justice.
This is a two-way street; positive progress can’t take place unless men and women work together. This #MeToo culture has greatly hurt the relationship between men and women; mistrust and fear of each other will stifle the quality of work, platonic, and romantic relationships between the sexes. The nation is already divided as it is: Conservatives vs. Liberals, Republicans vs. Democrats, Millennials vs. Baby Boomers, Pro-Life vs. Pro-Choice, and so many others. The last thing we need is for 51% of Americans, women, and 49% of Americans, men, to resent and not trust each other; #MeToo is an extreme impediment on these relations. Men and women need each other in more ways than we realize, so let’s take these steps to address these problems. If we don’t fix the division described, which have gone so far as to include these alarming workplace statistics and awkward consent videos, matters will only get worse.
I will admit that these three parts are different and may not all fit together; the first is about statistics, the second is about the variable of alcohol, and the third is an epistemological argument. But they are all very important and must be addressed. I will delve deeper into these in later articles.