Campus Rape Crisis
Improving Mandatory Sexual Assault Education Programs
A Multi-version System Based on Gender
A huge problem our nation’s universities are currently facing is the high rate of sexual assault among students. For females, the rate is three times greater than that of the general population. A mandatory online survey for all freshmen is a good attempt to decreasing this issue and it shows that administration is concerned, but it comes off as too generalized and impersonal. Men and women typically have different mentalities regarding sexual assault and gender is the predominant factor in determining rape myth acceptance (RMA) so, colleges need to improve sexual assault education programs by offering different versions based on gender. By doing this, it will be easier to address the most relevant rape myths for males and for females.
The goal of sexual assault education is to reduce rape myth acceptance. Rape myths are commonly accepted yet false statements about sexual assault such as "When women are raped its often because the way they said no was ambiguous" or "Rape accusations are often used as a way of getting back at men". RMA perpetuates rape culture because it reflects the idea that it is natural for women to be submissive to men and can also lead to victim blaming. When we put blame on the victim, we discourage them to come forward with their assault which leads to the high percentage of sexual crimes that go unreported. The lack of justice for most victims can often lead to long term mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and drug/alcohol dependence. Because of these reasons, it is important for colleges to put substantial effort in lowering RMA. A more effective way to do this than the current generalized system is multi-version system based on gender-the most predominant factor in determining RMA.
Why Change our Current System?
A survey was sent to 24,000 students to determine the effectiveness of an online sexual assault program. The results of the survey showed that 25% of females, 35% of males, 32% of bisexuals, and 17% of gay/lesbian believed that the survey will have little to no impact. 11% of the total students surveyed thought the university was just trying to “save face” and 5% reported that their opinion of the administration was lowered as a result of the program. Many students are unsatisfied with our current generalized system and a gender based system already has evidence that separate courses can be beneficial.
The Men's Project
The Men’s Project was an 11 week sexual assault education program consisting of 2 hour weekly meetings which may be a bit excessive, but it did yield positive results. It was conducted on 36 men (86% heterosexual, 8% homosexual, 6% bisexual) It aimed to lower sexism and rape myth acceptance in college men and raise their willingness to stand up against sexual violence. The results showed lower levels of hostile and benevolent sexism, rape myth acceptance, and gender biased language use as well as improvements in bystander efficacy, collective action willingness, and feminist activism. Separating genders when it comes to sexual assault education has been proven to be more effective in lowering RMA.