Is an Education Worth Sexual Assault or Harassment?  

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Pia Sharma

The Issue of Assault and Harassment

Every 98 seconds, another American is sexually assaulted. Knowing the difference between objectification, misogyny, harassment, and assault is extremely important and, unfortunately, a requirement for students to safely attend school. It is general knowledge that sexual assault is an incredibly controversial topic and its relation to the #metoo movement, how frequentfrequently it affects women in the workforce, how it is addressed legally, emotionally, socially, and how it affects women and men differently. This strives to serve as a guide for anyone attending elementary, middle, college, public, private, or high school as well as a wake-up call for those who may need to obtain the knowledge on how to advocate for others going through an issue dealing with this topic. 

 

Men’s Sexual Assault and Harassment

Sexual assault and sexism, in a lot of cases, go hand in hand which is why women are  commonly a target for assault and harassment. However, although assault in general is under-researched, men’s sexual assault is barely acknowledged in the media whatsoever. This is a large issue because 1.267 million men said they had been victims of sexual violence in 2014 and the media doesn’t address this issue the way it should. This is because the media has created a false, mutated definition of masculinity. We live in a world where we praise men for objectification but look down upon them for having emotions. Emotions are natural and assuming a group of human beings are inferior because of their physical characteristics (sex), is not natural. Now that society praises men for objectifying women, the media doesn’t like to acknowledge men’s sexual assault because it occurs less than women’s cases, but also because men are expected to crave sexual attention since that is how they are portrayed. Because men as a whole are portrayed as predators, they are expected to enjoy any sexual contact, even when it is unwanted. According to Callie Rennison, a professor for the School of Public Affairs at the University of Colorado Denver, “men are victimized far more than we realize, because when they come forward [about sexual assault], people question their masculinity and sexuality”.

Sexual Harassment in College

Not only is college a perfect opportunity for predators to take advantage of vulnerable students trying illegal substances for the first time and may not have the best judgment. According to SAMHSA, “On an average day during the past year, 2,179 full-time college students drank alcohol for the first time, and 1,326 used an illicit drug for the first time.“. This means that when students go to college, they have the freedom to try substances that might alter their sensibility. This leaves a window of opportunity for predators or rapists. Because about “95% of campus rapes in the U.S. go unreported”, college can be a dangerous environment if one is not aware of the possibilities. 

Narrowing down the statistics to connect it to where the majority of urban students may live, if 55% of rape in the country occurs in urban areas, and the 5th most common location that sexual assault occurs at is on school property, urban school students, especially colleges, are at a high risk of sexual assault. 

 

Women’s Sexual Assault and Harassment

Women are the number one victims of sexual assault and harassment. 84% of sexual assault victims are women and 59% of sexual assault incidents were reported in urban areas. Within these incidences, only 23% were reported to the police while the other 77% were not. 

Through the years of struggling to obtain the same fundamental rights that white men have been handed, women have come a long way. However, being perceived as weak, ignorant, overemotional, but ‘pretty’, creatures for so long hashave left an indent in the way women are perceived still to this day. The gender pay gap in America is women earning approximately 70-90% of what men earn depending on what state one lives in. When women are paid less than men in the workforce and are still about 80% of the victims of rapes and sexual assault in the workforce, it reflects on how society values women. The worst part is, it is something that occurs so frequently that it is regarded so casually in some cases when there are comments and actions of objectification, sexualization, and jokes made about the matter. Women are getting closer, but have not nearly reached equality when the most powerful man leading the most powerful country in the world perpetuates rape culture by justifying it with ‘locker room talk’. Ending rape culture and the belief that men have a right to women’s bodies will reduce objectification leading to the possible decrease of sexual assault among women.

The majority of onesone’s academic career is spent as a minor. Rape is the most under-reported crime and 88% of child sexual abuse isn’t reported to authorities. 30% of rape among women occurs between the ages of 11 and 17 which is around grades 6 through 11. One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old. The reason these stats are important is because sexual abuse, rape, and assault most commonly occurs when a child is still in the midst of getting their education. Becuase, unfortunately, there is nothing anyone can do to effectively end sexual assault all together, the only way to address any issue without a clear-cut solution is to be aware and cautious. Knowing the statistics of these occurrences and that these occurrences are more common than not, is so important for students and children to realize. Not only will it prepare them staythem to stay safe from predators that they will most likely encounter, it will promote self-security because a child will know their worth and that they cannot be treated as an object at adolescence. Hopefully if students become more aware at a younger age, if the children are our future, newer generations will have no tolerance for any acts of this kind and won’t be as common. To connect this issue to the readers, since there is a high risk of sexual assault in urban areas and in schools, one who will be put in a situation dealing with the combination of both need to be cautious and realize how big of an issue it really is. Being able to report these actions and support or advocate for others put in these unfortunate situations, is necessary to stay safe and to contribute to the prevention of sexual assault and harassment in school, life, and in further generations.