Rape culture must be stopped


It’s more common than you think.

Sexual assault includes anything that forces a person to become involved with unwanted sexual contact. One of the most difficult issues regarding rape is consent.

“With consent, we want to make sure that it’s clear, voluntary and without force,” says Megan Blomquist, Director of Education and Training for the non-profit organization Rape Victim Advocates. “For each step along the way, you have to make sure what you’re doing is okay. It’s important to have verbal check-ins, but it shouldn’t be robotic. Body language is also important and something to pay attention to.”

The slightest resistance to any sexual activity is a red flag in determining whether or not someone is giving consent.

According to Neighborhood Scout, a site that records data for cities and neighborhoods in the US, the crime index for Evanston is 22 (100 being the safest). This means that Evanston is safer than 22% of the cities in our country. Reports say that one in 348 people are raped in Evanston. However, these numbers do not disclose even part of the reality. According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, 68% of sexual assaults remain unreported to the police.

“When I go to college, I should be worried about getting a good education. I shouldn’t have to worry about rape, but I am,” says Paula Camaya, senior.

One in five assaults are committed by someone known to a victim. Teens often deal with social pressures regarding sex. “Growing up, we have gender roles that men and boys, and women and girls should follow,” explains Blomquist. “Those stereotypes lead to a culture that is easier for men to act violently and harder for women to be strong and use their voices.”
There are widespread misconceptions about who is to blame for rape. The arguments that a victim was drunk, provocatively dressed or unwilling to fight back do not justify rape.

“When the victim is blamed, it’s easy for them to feel hopeless and it’s also less likely that they will seek help,” explains Blomquist. “When someone says they’ve been sexually assaulted, we should take them seriously.”
Even when individuals aren’t directly involved with rape, no one should ignore it. “Although most people aren’t rapists or victims, it’s important that we all have a role in trying to end this violence,” says Blomquist.
ETHS does a good job of educating students about sexual violence. “Everyone made jokes about rape, so I would too. Then I learned that it’s a very serious thing that scars people for life. It shouldn’t be joked about,” says Eric Greenfield, junior.

The freshman health unit supplies definitions of the different types of sexual violence, dispels myths people might have about rape, and provides information about what victims and the friends of victims should do after an assault. On the eighth day of the health unit, students experience the Clothesline Project, an organization that brings awareness to the issue of violence against women. T-shirts filled with stories from affected women are displayed on a clothesline in G180.

It’s important that ETHS continues to raise awareness about the issue because it is still a prevalent topic. We don’t talk about rape enough, and talking about it is essential to the growth of our community. It happens here, it’s happening now, and we need to stop it.