Rape culture isn’t just offensive to women; it’s offensive to men.
The Merriam-Webster definition of “Rape” is “to force (someone) to have sex with you by using violence or the threat of violence.”
Rape, by its very nature, is an act of aggression; it is an act in which one party aggressively steals power from another by sexual means. The victim of such an act of violence is never at fault, given the circumstances of the crime. It is the perpetrator who initiates the action, or without permission, continues past the point where previous action was decidedly ended. It is the perpetrator’s decision entirely to act upon desires which run contrary to the desires of the victim.
According to The Register Guard, Ginevra Ralph, a University of Oregon Trustee and Eugene arts administrator asked the following question during a recent meeting of Trustees:
“Where, if anywhere, does the overt sexuality with the bump-and-grind, pelvic-thrusting dancing that the female cheerleader and dance squads feature in their routines fit in this context?”
The “context” to which Ralph is referring is the context of college sexual assault and rape.
The Register Guard reports:
“UO interim President Scott Coltrane assured Ralph that the university will ask about provocative dancing as part of its $500,000 effort to prevent sexual assault on campus.”
Let’s get several things out of the way first, as some provocative thoughts have likely beset themselves upon the minds of some readers.
I am not endorsing overtly sexualized dancing or behavior; I am not endorsing the morally degraded culture into which we have slid, in which the more skin one shows, the higher one rises. I am not unaware of the fact that provocative behavior on the part of women may lead men to lust after them; and I am not unaware of the fact that sexuality is used in every facet of image marketing, including cheerleading—nor am I condoning these behaviors.
However, an important issue is not being addressed by Ginevra Ralph, and the University of Oregon: Rape and sexual assault are not the result of any behavior other than that of the perpetrator.
Additionally, it is important to note that one who does not endorse or condone overly-sexualized behavior can also believe that such behavior is not “bait” for would-be rapists. In my experience, there are many of the conservative persuasion that cannot, or will not reconcile that notion.
We are dying. That’s a fact of life. Our society has fallen prey to numerous evils, not the least of which is sexual degradation. But to believe, or even conceive of the idea that rape may be a consequence of “provocative” behavior is patently absurd. It’s offensive to women because it places blame on the victims. Regardless of how inappropriate a woman’s behavior, rape is not an appropriate consequence. Ever. That’s established territory though.
What’s worse—in my mind—is that this notion places all men on the same level as rapists. To claim that overtly-sexualized cheerleading may be a partial contributor to campus rape implies that all men, regardless of their status as individual human beings, can, with relative ease, be turned into something evil. This idea implies that any and all decent, moral men have no ability to control their base impulses should they see a cheerleader shake her butt during half-time. It’s offensive, and naive.
A rapist will rape regardless of his surrounding circumstances.
How about instead of making naive insinuations about all men and spending several hundred thousand dollars “in an effort to prevent sexual assault” (which is wildly ambiguous, and likely frivolous), we allow women to carry concealed handguns on campus so that they can actually protect themselves should they encounter a rapist?
Nah, that’s too sane. Let’s focus on cheerleading and how all men are potential rapists instead.