College Men Need a New Dialogue on Rape

(UWIRE) Last week, Claire Simon walked out of a club hand in hand with a man she met earlier in the week. Spring break had proven fruitful for bonding and meeting gorgeous men. Having lost her friends somewhere around her fifth drink, she proceeded to her hotel chaperoned only by this male companion. As payment for the trip, he showed her to her room. As payment for the trip, he made Claire and himself a drink. As payment for the trip, he ignored her almost inaudible cries of ‘don’t.’ Her cries weren’t loud enough to make him stop. She only struggled through half of it and prayed during the rest because as her fear began to outweigh the alcohol, she succumbed to his strength and his ability to strangle her to death at any moment, if that was even ‘his thing.’

Even more, he seemed to get off on her struggling, feeling her cries erotic and her weakness powerful. Finally, they were both silent. He pranced off her body, zipped his pants and whispered, ‘How do you feel?’ as if she simply had too much to drink and he had just put her to bed, as if he hadn’t just changed her life forever.

But despite my anger over the issue, this is not a statistical analysis of rape, nor is it a story about Claire. It’s a story about the man who took her home.

In our society, we regularly demonize but rarely scrutinize. Acquaintance rape is still rape and it’s still about power. But perhaps in examining the male role in rape, we can begin to better understand why one in four women are raped. Maybe we could see why a media sexualization of females translates, for so many men, into a justification to touch, fondle and use force or coercion to lure their female acquaintances into un-wanted sexual intercourse.

Despite efforts to bring to light the prominence of acquaintance rape or to recognize its legitimacy, there is still a picture in too many females’ heads of a large, intimidating man jumping from dark corners when the protection of a crowd unexpectedly disappears. We rarely picture the helpful co-worker who has driven us home on many occasions or the gorgeous guy who we try to talk to every other day after class.

The scary thing is that the prominence of rape, and more specifically acquaintance rape, tells us that these might be the men to fear. The thing about acquaintance rape that makes a particular statement about men in this society is that this type of rape is not committed by some deviant, but rather by the people we are closest to, the people we trust, the people who know us best.

What if statistics are so high for acquaintance rape (in this circumstance, specifically for male-to-female rape) because there is something inherent in men that motivates them to need this power? Psychologist Mary Koss and colleagues have documented re-search about the prevalence of acquaintance rape and rape in general, primarily on college campuses. In her study, the demo-graphic profile of the 3,187 female and 2,972 male students was similar to the makeup of the overall enrollment in higher education within the United States.

The findings indicate that one in four women surveyed had been raped, and 84 percent of those women knew their attacker. This is not just a number, but also a real image; think about it when you walk into a classroom dominated by women.

More relevantly, one in 12 male students surveyed had committed acts that met the legal definition of rape or attempted rape, but 84 percent of those men who committed rape said that what they did was definitely not rape.

What messages are men receiving through the media and through our words about how women are to be treated? The idea that so many men are painfully confused about their role in the sexual experiences they have, along with the prominence of rape, suggests one truth: that we have overemphasized the female fear in our message about rape, while neglecting the man’s role. We teach women about safety and protection from the scary men in dark alleys. We teach women that acquaintance rape is still rape despite their sexual history and despite their relationship with their aggressor. We teach women that they deserve to be respected. But what are we teaching men?

We do not continue this dialogue of respect for women with young men. Perhaps the inherent characteristic of men that motivates them to rape is a struggle to define what it actually means to be a man through messages of dominance, aggression and an un-compromising demeanor. Perhaps as men struggle to self-express, the idea that sex is a commodity is something tangible that they can hold on to.

Claire’s experience exemplifies our general message about rape: women beware. We usually use this kind of story to teach women to protect themselves. But these statistics won’t change until we address the perspective of men and why they rape.

What the Research Shows…

Sei Shiroma
Journalism II

In a 1987 study, 20 percent of college age males reported having obtained sexual contact through coercion. Based on a 1998 convenience sample of college-age men, 3 percent of male respondents reported to using physical force to obtain intercourse, and approximately 23 percent admitted to using drugs or alcohol to obtain it.’
Regarding rape on college campuses, there are several risk factors that lead to its perpetration.’ Not surprisingly, men who abuse alcohol and drugs are more likely to engage in sexual assault.’ Approximately 74 percent of rape perpetrators had been drinking before the assault.’ Fraternity men have also been identified as more likely to perpetrate sexual assault than non-fraternity men.’ College athletes and students who were athletes in high school are not only also more likely, they also scored higher in attitudinal measures that are associated with sexual coercion such as sexism, acceptance of violence, hostility towards women and rape myth acceptance.’
In the general population, sexual assault perpetrators usually exhibit similar traits:

Lower levels of empathy
Belief of traditional gender role stereotypes
Endorsement in statements used to justify rape
Abused as children
Engaged in adolescent delinquency
Had early and frequent dating/sexual experiences

Fostering men’s responsibility for preventing sexual assault.

The author writes that for effective sexual assault prevention men must look at their own potential for violence as well as taking a stand against the violence of other men. He further asserts that men must take responsibility for preventing sexual assault because most sexual violence is perpetrated by men against women, children, and other men. Although only a minority of men are sexually violent, all men are part of the culture/environment that allows other men to perpetrate violence. The chapter offers an overview of issues involved in working with men to encourage taking the responsibility for sexual assault prevention. The chapter also suggests a philosophy for rape prevention programming, provides a model for prevention education programs, reviews promising programs and strategies, and includes recommendations for future program development. The chapter’s main focus is on the prevention of sexual assault perpetrated by men or boys in college and high school settings. –Berkowitz, A. D. (2002). In P. A. Schewe (Ed.), Preventing violence in relationships: Interventions across the lifespan (pp. 163-196). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. (Summary by

The role of profeminist men in dealing with woman abuse on the Canadian college campus.

The author asserts that the attempts to stop woman abuse on North American college campuses has not been very successful thus far. Students, faculty, and administrators o
ften support the patriarchal rights of men or think that the problem is not so widespread. Programs on many campuses do not work well, in part because they depend on women to prevent rape and also because most offenders know that few men come under formal social control and that that they can probably get away with their actions (i.e., rape with impunity). The author draws from empirical research that suggests male peer support is the most important factor determining pro-rape attitudes and behaviors. The authors suggest ways in which pro-feminist men can begin to work on the problem of male aggression including: protesting pornography, working with bullies or those who are abusive, shaming, and involving themselves with education programs and/or support groups. –DeKeseredy, W. S., Schwartz, M. D., ‘amp; Alvi, S. (2000). Violence Against Women, 6, 918-935. (Summary by

For The Minaret’s other stories, follow the guide below:

‘middot;‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ What Is Sexual Assault?

‘middot;‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ Minaret Special Investigation

o‘ ‘ ‘ Both Sides of the Story

o‘ ‘ ‘ The State declines to prosecute, and UT J-Board takes up the case

o‘ ‘ ‘ Lack of Charges Kept Him on the Court

o‘ ‘ ‘ Problems Plagued Conduct Process from the Start

o‘ ‘ ‘ A Challenge to our Readers

‘middot;‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ UT’s Definition

o‘ ‘ ‘ Related Student Handbook Policies

o‘ ‘ ‘ Definition of Terms

‘middot;‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ Alcohol ‘amp; Sexual Assault

o‘ ‘ ‘ Speaker Emphasizes Effect of Alcohol on Sexual Assault

o‘ ‘ ‘ Authorities say use of date-rape drugs on the rise

o‘ ‘ ‘ Drunken Hook-Ups Can Blur Consent

o‘ ‘ ‘ Women and Drinkers Most Likely to be Victims

‘middot;‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ Men’s Role

o‘ ‘ ‘ College Men Need a New Dialogue on Rape

o‘ ‘ ‘ Men Must Fight Date Rape, Too

o‘ ‘ ‘ The Myths of Rape

‘middot;‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ Help for Victims

o‘ ‘ ‘ Ruling Could Open Door to Victims Suing Schools

o‘ ‘ ‘ UT Student Re-examines Personal Experience

o‘ ‘ ‘ Crisis Center Volunteers Help Victims Cope with Assault

o‘ ‘ ‘ What the Research Shows…

o‘ ‘ ‘ Campus Advocate Speaks on Experiences

o‘ ‘ ‘ Resources for Rape Victims

o‘ ‘ ‘ UT’s On-Campus Sexual Assault Prevention Program Gaining Visibility

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