Not just a woman’s issue: breaking sexual assault stereotypes
Sexual assault and rape on college campuses in the U.S. has become a common and important discussion in the media.
Young girls are afraid to walk home from classes alone, some are even worried they could be harmed in their own dorms.
UB recently added a mandatory seminar to their freshmen orientation requirements that involves attending an hour-long discussion about sexual assault and the importance of consent. It goes to show the issue is still prevalent. These programs are an improvement from just ignoring the topic as a whole, but there’s another concept essential to understanding rape culture that is too often ignored.
Men are not always the perpetrators and men can be raped or sexually assaulted too.
As a sexual assault survivor and a woman, I feel it’s my job to help make men feel safe to talk about what happened to them too. We are all survivors of a horrific attack, regardless of gender.
It’s important that people understand this because, perhaps one of the greatest reasons rape culture is perpetuated, is because rape is almost depicted as a female victim and a male perpetrator.
Male victims feel too ashamed to talk about sexual assault or rape because the topic is not spoken about enough and some still think men can’t actually be raped.
Even worse, they think that rapists are always men.
Males attending college between the ages of 18 and 24 are approximately five times more likely to be sexually assaulted than males of the same age group not enrolled in college, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN).
Rape on college campuses isn’t an issue that’s only reserved for women. Men need to be aware that they are at risk as well.
Three percent of men have reported experiencing sexual assault or rape in their lives, according to RAINN.
Just because the perpetrator was female, doesn’t mean it wasn’t rape or sexual assault. RAINN reports that 6.3 percent of reported rapists are female.
Being sexually assaulted is a terrible experience, but the issue cannot be stopped if we don’t break these stereotypes and start making men feel more comfortable talking about their experiences.
It’s also important that we educate ourselves on female rapists and sexual assault perpetrators as well.
Sexual assault and rape are scary topics and they’re very difficult for survivors to talk about. When talking to someone who is confiding in you about this issue, it’s important to listen to what they have to say and remind them that it is never, ever their fault.
It’s our job to help stop the problem.
Mallory Mailen is a staff writer for the features desk and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org