On Oct. 5, Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey published a story in The New York Times that would go on to spark profoundly painful and significant conversations throughout the country. In what is only the latest account of its kind in the entertainment industry, the two journalists revealed multiple accounts of sexual harassment involving powerful film executive, Harvey Weinstein. Although there may be those who are surprised by Hollywood’s apparent sexual violence problem, we are not.
As a college newsroom largely dominated by female editors, how could we possibly be surprised? This is not a problem specific to Hollywood. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college.
The number of college sexual assault victims is likely much higher in actuality; more than 90 percent of sexual assault survivors on college campuses do not report their assault. Sadly, this is not surprising. Our society shames and blames victims, tells men they can’t be raped and glorifies sexually aggressive behavior.
Texas State is certainly not an exception to these statistics or the attitudes that perpetuate them. In fact, it’s not only students who engage in such rhetoric. There are professors on this campus who find it acceptable to excuse rapists and instead place blame on the victim, citing their choice of clothing as “too provocative” to deserve safety and respect.
The mentality that women function only as a source of objectification to men rather than beings with their own agency is telling. Women are expected to be selfless and every action is sometimes seen as a desperate attempt to appeal to others.
Such appalling attitudes should also be insulting to men in that it paints them as viscously aggressive animals with no self-control or basic understanding of civility. Normalizing violent and repulsive behaviors as fundamental to what it means to be a man is inherently wrong. Men are, in fact, capable of controlling themselves. Rapists choose not to.
The conversations that have emerged from this horrific scandal are tragic in every imaginable way, but even more so when it becomes so blatantly apparent that this kind of abuse is a foundational characteristic of the American coming-of-age.
Thousands of people have taken to social media to share stories of sexual assault or even just add to the painful conversation with a simple “me too.” Despite feeling like the entire world is speaking up, the number of survivors is still higher than that. After all, it’s not easy to publicly re-visit your abuse and that’s not something that can be asked of anyone.
We can, however, demand better. We can be better. This kind of change begins with individual growth. We call on every student and professor to look within themselves and think of the destructive attitudes they personally perpetuate or excuse. Although it won’t be easy, if we can spare future generations from tragedy, shouldn’t we?