Rape: A Crime Against Humanity

During the 1970's, starting in San Francisco, California, anti-rape awareness began to rise. Although rape and date-rape still occurs every day, it is something that has been realized as an inhumane action and has been recognized as a crime, resulting in legal and financial punishment, as well as disgrace in society. Unfortunately, rape is still a common occurrence, mostly by men, which goes back to the root of all problems: gender equality. 
   In my opinion, rape and date-rape goes back to thinking that women are property, and therefore men can treat them however they please. Before the assault, women can do nothing to prevent rape. It should not be up to women to walk outside and think, "Wow, I could get raped in this outfit," and turn back inside and put something more conservative on. It is up to the men of this generation to put an end to rape, date rape, and dating violence, and to ask for consent. Although alcohol and drugs is a large factor playing into date rape, it is not an excuse. 
   Awareness needs to be raised: colleges, laws, and society need to be stricter about reprimanding the instigators, and victim blaming needs to be put to a complete end.

Photo by Morrigan McCarthy 
Many people confuse rape and date-rape: rape is a type of sexual intercourse initiated against one or more individuals without their consent, whereas date-rape specifically refers to a rape in which previously there had been some sort of romantic or potentially sexual relationship between the two parties. One study has shown that 84% percent of victims of rape have known their attacker before, which in fact says that 84% of all rapes are date rapes. Knowing your assaulter beforehand could possibly even make the experience all the more frightening, and the aftermath could result in losing trust in most people. Some other direct effects of rape could be posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Stockholm syndrome, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI), pregnancy, and Borderline Personality Disorder. Some indirect effects of rape could be self-harm, depression, substance abuse, and suicide. These indirect effects are usually triggered by society’s reaction, like victim blaming, self-loathing, loss of friends, and name-calling. Many date rapes have occurred under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and many have taken place at college campuses. Often, in the aftermath of rape, victim blaming (the act of blaming the victim for an assault against them) occurs, which can trigger many of the horrible direct effects of rape. Victim-blaming is unjust, because no matter what a woman is wearing, it gives no right for a man to rape her.
   Not only is rape an immoral act, it is a crime. In Texas, rape is usually a second-degree felony, but it could become to first degree if the defendant attacked was a person they were prohibited from seeing before the assault. It can result in two to twenty years in prison, and or a ten thousand dollar fine. Aggravated sexual assault (one involving violence, or any other amplified means) is considered a first-degree felony. Although there are suggestions on how to 'prevent' rape, there is no absolute way to ensure safety. Rape is a decision, and therefor precautions taken against it are only so helpful, but should be unnecessary. Some ways to take caution are to not walk home alone at night, be responsible at parties, not allow yourself to be talked into something that you do not want to do, learn self defense or have prior knowledge about the mindset of rape, allowing you to get a better feeling for potential assaulters.

In the past, rape was defined as the crime of theft of a man’s property, meaning that a man could not technically rape his wife. Towards the late 20th century, rape was redefined as sexual intercourse without a person’s consent, making rape illegal, and making it so that technically a man who sexually assaulted his wife could be charged with rape.
   At the beginning of Columbia’s first semester this year, Emma Sulkowicz, a senior, who had been raped on her mattress at the university, embarked on a "performance art piece," which she dubbed "Mattress Performance." Sulkowicz plans on carrying around the same mattress she was raped on everywhere on campus with her this year, until Columbia decides to expel her attacker (who has convicted of rape three different times). She says that this could end in a day, or never end at all. Although the performance art piece takes place along with her to every class, every day, Emma's art studio is where the "rules of engagement can be found" (pictured below):

Photo found from the New York Times
   Emma has also set guidelines for herself: she is not allowed to ask for help from other people, but if help is offered, she is allowed to accept. This art piece has captured the attention of national news, feminists, and art enthusiasts everywhere, and has shed a negative light on Columbia, hopefully making the right choice clear: expel the criminal. Her protest has helped give more momentum to ending campus assault everywhere. Emma could possibly even be called the poster girl for the movement, along with an exquisite example of art protest, and I would even go as far as saying what she is doing for the anti-rape movement is along the lines of what Pussy Riot is doing for feminism and politics in Russia.
   Rape is not something that can be given the blind eye. It is not something that 'happens' and is 'part of life', but is something that needs to come to an end. Women are not property, therefore men have no right to do whatever they want with us. Too often have I heard and read about women who have been victimized and have never recovered from the trauma. It is not only a crime legally, in my opinion; it is a crime against humanity.

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