Those who are fans of Lady Gaga likely already know that she has released a video for her song “Til It Happens to You”. This isn’t the first time the song has been used to advocate against sexual assault on college campuses. It was used in the closing credits of The Hunting Ground, a documentary about rape crimes on college campuses.
The music video features different types of sexual assault found on campuses. One is of a girl whose friend comes in and starts teasing her. He then proceeds to rape her because she won’t have sex with him. Another story follows a transgender boy, who is raped because of his gender identity. Two girls, roommates, are roofied and raped by the same boy. In all three stories, the students lose ambition and hide in their dorms. The roommates eventually part ways, leaving them to deal with what happened on their own. In the end, the friends of these victims come together and help their assaulted friend stand up and believe that they are not broken and deserve to be happy.
According to the video, 1 in 5 girls on a college campus will be sexually assaulted. That is down from the 2000 statistic of 1 in 4 girls. The statistic for men is lower, coming in at only 3%. However, this is likely not an accurate number, as men are far less likely to come forward when they have been sexually assaulted. Women are also seen as easier targets than men, but anyone is more likely to be attacked during their first few weeks of freshman or sophomore year, when there are more parties, drinking, and drugs.
In January, the White House released “A Renewed Call of Action” to address sexual assault. President Obama created the Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault.
What’s jarring about rape culture—which Obama and the rest of the White House staff are trying to eradicate—is that many college-aged men are not making the task any easier. It is likely that a small percentage of men commit most of the rapes on a campus, rather than a lot of men committing single rapes. 63% of admitted college campus rapists have an average of 6 victims.
Across the country, colleges and universities are making it even harder for the government to destroy rape culture. Students are reporting that their college mishandled their reports. Campuses are now required to hold rape trials, but it rarely helps the problem. In actuality, it can set a rapist free or convict an innocent person. Administrators and faculty members know very little about the law, but they are made the panelists and judges at these trials. At Harvard, law professors claimed that these trials lacked “the most basic elements of fairness and due process.”
What can we do to bring down the number of sexual assaults on college campuses?
Education is key. Very few students actually know the basic rules of protecting themselves. Many of them are drilled into us or are common sense:
- Never leave your drink unattended. This is the most widely-known tip out there. Also, never let someone else prepare your drink for you.
- When at a party or bar, bring a friend so that you have someone who can make sure you’re safe. Make sure they’re safe as well.
- Learn some basic self-defense skills. I took a class a few years ago about self-defense, and I still practice these skills.
- Communicate to someone else about where you’re going. Even if you’re bringing a friend, communicating to someone else is always a good idea.
While it seems like all the tips that we are given revolve around how not to get raped, we should focus on the real issue: how not to rape. It seems like a very basic idea, but in actuality, you could write a book on we rape others. Someday, we will learn how to prevent rape from not just the victim’s side, but also from the prospective rapist’s side.
This article was written by Maryssa Gordon, a writer for dusk magazine.