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Opinion: Modern culture allows rape to happen

Following The Daily Helmsman’s article “Student raped twice in 20 days: Alleged assailants remain on U of M campus,†many people expressed opinions on social media.

As a disclaimer, I am not writing this to say Nick Wayman is guilty, or that Caroline lied about what happened or even that the university handled the situation terribly.

I am here to say that some comments on Twitter were absolutely disgusting, regardless of the situation. Perpetuating rape culture and victim blaming is a huge part of the problem. So here is a breakdown of consent, victim blaming and rape culture.

The Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center at the University of Michigan said consent is “when someone agrees, gives permission or says ‘yes’ to sexual activity with other persons.â€

It states consent should not be assumed by body language, appearance or non-verbal communication, and alcohol consumption can affect someone’s ability to consent.  

According to Tennessee state law, intoxication impacts the ability to consent.

“The definition of mentally incapacitated encompasses the situation where a person is rendered temporarily incapable of appraising or controlling the person’s conduct due to the influence of a narcotic, anesthetic or other substance administered to that person without the person’s consent, or due to any other act committed upon that person without the person’s consent, according to Tennessee Code Ann. §39-13-501.

Now that we have looked at definitions of consent, let’s look at what it does not say about consent. Consent is not when someone wears, or does not wear, something.

Jeff Carter assault art illustration

Regarding The Daily Helmsman article, one Twitter user posted, “You don’t get in bed with someone half-naked if you don’t want anything to happen.â€

But that is exactly what someone can do. I’m not saying it is what you should do, but someone should not be sexually assaulted based on what they are or are not wearing.

Let me repeat that for the ones in the back: wearing underwear to sleep or wearing revealing clothing to a party does not give someone the right to rape you. Drinking a lot of alcohol does not give someone the right to rape you. Being flirty with someone does not give that person the right to rape you. Nothing gives anyone the right to rape you.

The Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center said, “It is important to remember that sexual assault is never the survivor’s fault, regardless of whether they may have been intoxicated.â€

Blaming the assault on the victim for what they were wearing, how they were acting or how much they were drinking is victim blaming.

In any case where a rapist is convicted of sexually assaulting a victim, no one should ever say the victim was “asking for it.†I’m positive that if you ask any sexual assault survivor, they will tell you that they were not asking to be raped.

According to Southern Connecticut State University and Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence, “Rape culture is an environment in which rape is prevalent and in which sexual violence is normalized and excused in the media and popular culture.â€

We need to hold people who are convicted rapists accountable for their actions. As a society, we are numb to the fact that, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, every 98 seconds, someone is suffering from sexual assault.

We need to support victims and make it easier for them to talk about their assaults without placing blame on them. We need to stop appropriating rape culture by normalizing sexual assault. Rape should not be a normal thing in society. We do not need to become numb to the horrors that happen everyday.

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