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Wyld about sex: Rape culture

Liz Wyld, ’Doah Staff Writer
March 26, 2013

LizWyldThe 19th Amendment was passed in 1920, giving women the right to vote. In the 1970s, the Women’s Liberation Movement stood up for equality in the workplace and under the law. Women have had to fight for a long time for their right to equality and now, we are more or less treated as equals to men. But there is one freedom that we still don’t have.

As a female, I’m not alone in saying that I’ve grown into womanhood with a strong awareness that because of my gender, I’m a “target” for violence. That “Rent” line “Ever since puberty, everybody stares at me” is not an understatement. I’ve endured catcalls and blatant ogling from men much older than me. If I’m ever in the city at night, I pretend to talk on the phone or put up some sort of façade so that I don’t  appear to be an easy target. As a woman, my guard must constantly be up, and even that doesn’t necessarily keep me from getting assaulted or attacked.

By now we’ve all heard about the Steubenville Rape Trial, centered around two small-town Ohio star athletes who raped an intoxicated 16-year-old. The victim woke up with no recollection of what had happened to her the night before. Had the witnesses not taken so many pictures and videos documenting the events of the night, she would’ve walked away confused and ashamed like so many victims do. But, tracked by witnesses’ pictures, the boys have been sentenced to a year in a youth correctional institute. One of the athletes received an additional year for sending nude photos.

Given the recent circumstances of the Steubenville Rape Trial, rape is an issue that is currently in the forefront of politics. There was a backlash to a recent CNN segment that seemed to be broadly sympathetic toward the rapists. They talked about how the two offenders were going to be labeled sexual offenders for the rest of their lives and how their reputations are going to be permanently marred.

So the glaring question is, why do we live in a world where rape is taken so lightly? According to Department of Justice statistics, 48 percent of accused rapists are released before trial. Of those tried, only 54 percent are sentenced to prison. And that doesn’t even take into account the large number of rapes that are never reported. According to those troublesome statistics, hundreds of rape crimes go unnoticed and unpunished.

One of the witnesses from the Steubenville trial was said to have taken the keys away from an intoxicated friend who was trying to drive home. Yet, when he saw his friends raping the sixteen-year-old victim, he simply walked away.

If we are serious about stopping rape and sexual violence in America, we can no longer just turn the other cheek. According to biological anthropologist Michael Ghiglieri, we need to make it clear as a culture that we do not stand for it. “If a rapist gets away scott free or gets away with minor punishment, that means rape is a viable sexual strategy for a large number of men. Rape is inevitable if we don’t punish it.”

What do you think about the Steubenville Rape Trial? Do you agree with the convict’s punishments? Share your opinions with me at liz.wyld@thedoah.com.

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