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ISSUE 120 VOL 10 PUBLISHED 12/6/2006

Sexual assault degrades

By April Wright
Variety Editor

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

I grew up Midwestern. I was taught to hold doors for people, respect their property and not cut them off on the highway. I was also taught that sexual assault is never acceptable.

Apparently, this isn't a universal value. You see, other day I heard someone blame a sexual assault victim for the crime perpetrated upon her. I haven't been the same since, really. I didn’'t know people like that existed. I’'m pretty shocked and horrified. I just didn’'t think people still believed that.

The argument here is that if someone dresses or acts in a certain way, they deserve to be violated. I guess they're “asking for it.”

I hope this person just doesn't understand what sexual assault is. A sexual assault is, by definition, never the victim's fault. Sexual assault is any sexual act committed upon a person against their will or when they aren't able to give consent. The key idea is that if you don'’t want to do something sexual with someone, you don'’t have to, and they can'’t make you.

But I guess that just isn'’t agreeable to some people. Some people think women who go to dances in the Pause are sluts. Some people think women who wear certain types of clothing forfeit the right to not have their bodies violated.

It’'s hard to even know where to begin with that. It'’s just so far beyond wrong.

Firstly, sexual assault isn'’t really even about sex. It’'s about asserting dominance and power over someone. Because sexual attraction is less of a factor, assault happens to people of all kinds, most commonly women. And it'’s not always the most beautiful women, or the most provocative ones. It happens to whomever the assailant happens to choose. Again, this is because sexual assault is about power.

And I have yet to hear a rational argument for how this could possibly be the victim’'s fault. There is nothing you can possibly do to make sure that you are never in the wrong place at the wrong time.

When discussing this with various friends, the argument put to me was that the assault that sparked the discussion happened in the Pause, and if you go to the Pause “you should expect that.”

Um, what? Since when does simply being young and wanting to have fun mean that someone deserves to have something terrible happen to them? Since when does going to a public place mean you have no rights to your own body?

And people forget, we live here. If as students, we can'’t feel safe in our own home, where are we supposed to feel safe? If part of our community is in favor of letting sexual assailants go free, how are we supposed to trust that people with information that could lead to the capture of victimizers in our community are bringing that information forward and aiding in solving these crimes?

Sexual assault is one of the most damaging things that can ever happen to someone. I can'’t understand how someone can be so cold to say that if a person dares to go out in public, or dares to dress attractively, he or she deserves to suffer the effects for the rest of his or her life. People who are sexually assaulted go through all kinds of awful things. There'’s the humiliation of the act, and the anger that it happened to you. Victims often fall into depression and suffer in their home, school and social lives. Sometimes they live in fear of it happening again or they suffer panic attacks, flashbacks and anxiety. Victims can suffer physical wounds from the force of the attack, or sexually transmitted diseases or pregnancy if the assault involved penetration.

I'm sure wearing a miniskirt or having the gall to go to a dance means that the victim deserves a life of physical and emotional scarring. But let me put this to anyone dumb enough to believe that: Why does wearing provocative clothes mean that you should be stripped of your rights? Why does being in the wrong place at the wrong time mean that you no longer belong to yourself? Why is the responsibility on the victim, and not the person who had the control and the faculty to stop his or herself?

If you ask me, anyone who honestly believes that sexual assault is the fault of the victim is just as sick and twisted as the person committing the assault.

It’'s just too bad their attitude isn'’t a crime.

Variety Editor April Wright is a sophomore from Eagan, Minn. She majors in English and in biology.

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