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One in every five women will be sexually assaulted while in college, but less than 5 percent will report the assault to law enforcement, according to the U.S. Justice Department. Several national efforts are in the works to address the issue: a White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault delivers its recommendations this week, the U.S. Department of Education launched an investigation into claims that UC Berkeley mishandled reports of campus sexual assaults and congresswoman Jackie Speier plans to introduce legislation to strengthen sexual assault laws.

Guests:
Jackie Speier, Democratic congresswoman representing California's 14th Congressional District
Peter Novak, vice provost of student life at the University of San Francisco
Rose Carlyle, community education coordinator for Bay Area Women Against Rape
Claire Holmes, associate vice chancellor of communications and public affairs, UC Berkeley
Katy Palmer, senior at California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo

  • Guest

    .

  • thucy

    I adore Jackie Speier, and I’m horrified by the increase in sexual assaults. But as someone who works with college and high school-age women, I am baffled by what seems like the more recent expectation among young women themselves for extreme self-objectification. This is a conformist objectification which would have been risque not only back in Speier’s day, but in mine.
    There is a serious disconnect between the message that the vast majority of young women are telegraphing through current dress and make-up “norms” and the expectation that they will not be harassed/assaulted. And no, this does not mean that every person who is assaulted was “asking for it”. It means that society has established for young women a grotesque “norm” that objectifies them at their emotional and physical peril.
    We are living in a hyper-sexualized, narcissistic culture that glorifies short-term conquest and “winning” over tenderness and sharing, and the assaults are merely a symptom of the larger disease. But we as women have a responsibility to ask why we are participating in our own subjugation. It starts with young girls wanting to dress like princesses instead of scientists, then progressing to five-inch heels in the clubs, ending in the tragic farce of Restylane and silicone implants. It’s hard to believe there was ever a Marie Curie or Alice Eastwood or Virginia Woolf.

  • thucy

    I adore Jackie Speier, and I’m horrified by the increase in sexual assaults. But as someone who works with college and high school-age women, I am baffled by what seems like the more recent expectation among young women themselves for extreme self-objectification. This is a conformist objectification which would have been risque not only back in Speier’s day, but in mine.
    There is a serious disconnect between the message that the vast majority of young women are telegraphing through current dress and make-up “norms” and the expectation that they will not be harassed/assaulted. And no, this does not mean that every person who is assaulted was “asking for it”. It means that society has established for young women a grotesque “norm” that objectifies them at their emotional and physical peril.
    We are living in a hyper-sexualized, narcissistic culture that glorifies short-term conquest and “winning” over tenderness and sharing, and the assaults are merely a symptom of the larger disease. But we as women have a responsibility to ask why we are participating in our own subjugation. It starts with young girls wanting to dress like princesses instead of scientists, then progressing to five-inch heels in the clubs, ending in the tragic farce of Restylane and silicone implants. It’s too much Madame Bovary and too little Madame Curie.

    • Guest

      Revealing attire and tight clothing are the new normal, not only for women but for men. It’s the people who are brought up to object to that i.e. social conservatives, who are inclined to “punish” this liberal behavior with rape and disrespect.
      The elephant in the room is this motive for rape, which is off-limits for many because social conservatism is tied to religion. It is like pollution in China–it’s everywhere and no one is talking about it.
      And yet religion has no legitimacy, because it is based on unproven claims about an invisible man in the sky. And social conservatism is no better.

      • thucy

        I know plenty of liberal feminists who object to new “norms” of bodily objectification.
        And if rape is tied to religion, it is also tied to capitalism, and communism, and so on. On a real-life basis, It is more tightly linked to testosterone, as the statistics PROVE.

        • Guest

          Humans are sexual beings, like it or not. Our bodies are in fact objects — which deserve respect.

          Rape is not connected to capitalism or communism, that’s nonsense. You don’t like that I’m pointing out that religion is a cause of rape.

          • thucy

            Sticking to the point, the question of testosterone, or XY chromosomal inheritance, is relevant since most rapists are male. And in response to your off-topic claim, it’s reasonable to assume that most women probably aren’t checking you out, Frank.

          • Guest

            Ad-hominem attacks only show your desperation about my on-topic remark.

            Religion -> social conservatism -> rape.

          • susan

            No, I believe both my and thucy’s remark show that we have a sense of humor. And that you are delusional.

          • susan

            I hate to break this to you Frank, but there are no women staring hungrily at your crotch….

          • Menelvagor

            being a sexual being doesnt make you a rapist. that is absurd.

        • Menelvagor

          I disagree. Blamin it on chmeicals or masculinity is complete BS. But we as Americans do have a testosterone culture. We encourage rape and objectifying women form a very very young age. We have a war culture–it is no fluke that the miltiatry has always had a rape culture.

          We bring that war-rape culture into our domestic culture.

          We worship warriors.

          American college campuses are more about partying, drinking, drugging, and sexual conquest than scholarship. American universities encourage a culture of rape.

          My last point–in other countries it is not a problem. Rape occurs in all cultures, but it i simply not the norm in other countries as it is in american college culture, american sport culture, american war culture.

          In CHina, women just dont put themselves in these situations. Partying is not part of college life. Sex is not part of college life. Couples couple–but there is no culture of sexual conquest.

          America is a sick society–and I mean that clinically. We are inundated with sexual images and a culture of sexual conquest is nurtured in America. It goes hand in hand with colonization, racism, foreign occupation and conquest.

    • victoria s.

      Strongly agree — could not have said it better.

    • C.A.

      Ah! I didn’t see your comment before I wrote mine. Very, very well said!

  • thucy

    When good politicians like Speier can’t leverage the power to address actual issues like climate change, lack of affordable housing, gross income inequality, the dying middle class and growing poverty in California among the working class, they move to Plan B: hot-button social issues, e.g. sexual assault, abortion or gay marriage.

    • yumpopink

      Sexual assault is an “actual issue”.

      • thucy

        It may be an “actual issue”, but it’s a lesser issue than climate change and income inequality. What it is definitely: a great way to leverage campaign donations from older female voters.

        • susan

          because who else would care about their daughters being raped at school than some older feminizes right thucy?

          • thucy

            I just think that to separate the far higher rate of violent assault (including sexual assault) from the dire economic landscape in the US is a big mstake. You don’t see this rate of violent assault in Canada or France.
            Address the core problem – violence in a given society is rooted in deep economic inequality, and the US is among the most unequal in the developed world.

          • susan

            I completely agree with you about that and agree addressing the larger economic disparity is a key issue. But I would not relegate sexual assault as a minor political issue merely existing to pander for older female votes. I assure you that both myself and my husband who is male are equally concerned about our daughters being raped and we don’t consider our concern about our children and other people’s daughters whether they are in America, France or India to be trite compared to global warming. I think it does a grave disservice to men to imply only older women care about rape. Plenty of men are outraged at the fact that 3 women a day are killed in the USA by their domestic partner and a quarter of a million women over the age of 12 are raped a year in the USA alone. I don’t see why GMOs or global warming lessen the horror of those statistics or render them insignificant.

          • thucy

            I definitely think we’re more in agreement than my over-the-top statement implied. But If we look at sexual assault as violent assault (and I may be in the minority to think they should be counted together) then it baffles me that we start talking first about frats and keggers on campuses, where the incidence of assault is small compared to low-income neighborhoods. It seems (to me) that we are more concerned about a smaller problem on campuses because the victims look like us, and we can relate. Meanwhile, this stuff has been chronic in poor neighborhoods for decades, and it’s a big “meh”.

          • susan

            Oh absolutely, I wasn’t even viewing it as only in terms of college campus. I was looking at the subject as rape in general and barely remembering the interview. But of course you are correct, now it gets attention as opposed to when it was “their” problem in poorer or minority areas. Just like when Obama (who I voted for under duress…twice) said anytime a bomb is used against a civilian it’s terrorism (Boston) he forgot to add except when we repeatedly blow up Pakistani and Yemeni and Iraqi and Afghanistani kids by the thousands, then it’s slightly unfortunate collateral damage..It’s always different and more serious to the US when it effects upper middle class whites.

          • thucy

            Can’t agree with you more on all those points. Thanks for an interesting discussion, you definitely made me think a little bit more about commonality and communication.

          • Guest

            thucy is talking to herself again. thucy = susan.

  • murphy

    Are there any numbers about alcohol consumption on campus related to sexual assault? Should that not be a big part of the culture of responsibility and ownership of your body? It seems like that would be low-hanging fruit in a multi-pronged approach.

    • yumpopink

      There are many numbers on alcohol consumption on campuses–a quick google search should suffice. Responsibility for not harming others should be a much higher priority for individuals than not harming yourself.

      • Menelvagor

        wolf pack drinking culture is a huge part of the problem. And there are other forms of violence than just rape. All fraternities and societies should be abolished. All forms of initiation are harassment, emotional and psychological violence. Sport culture should be closely monitored and altered. We are creating a society of psychopaths and bullies.

        its time to make university about scholarship again–not commerce and ducking around.

  • Rose

    As a recent graduate of San State and hearing about their experience on campus(hate crime), will there be the same level of focus about general violent crimes on campus? Or just for sexual crimes?

  • Cal M

    Is not one of the biggest challenges here that young adults (heck, even older adults) don’t ALWAYS know PRECISELY what they want at every moment? When we talk about “explicit consent” at every step of a sexual relationship, isn’t it possible that both sides may be uncertain of what they want in the moment?

    • yumpopink

      If that’s the case then it might make sense to stop and take some time to figure that out.

    • susan

      wow, great way to obscure and blur the lines of rape Bill. Why don’t you volunteer at a rape crisis center and see the bruising and the state victims of sexual assault are brought to the hospital under and tell them how maybe they weren’t clear enough or didn’t really know at the time they were beaten or drugged what they really wanted. oh and the groups of boys raping passed out teens on camera – FYI Bill, that’s illegal too as much as you may want to argue her comatose state seemed to imply consent as they were urinating on her.

    • ES Trader

      I agree, ignore the emotional negative responses

  • Adrian

    I think a huge barrier to college reporting based on the campus sexual assault reporting policies is that they require students to retell their stories over and over, reliving the traumatizing event.

  • Lance

    The binge drinking culture creates most of the opportunity for sexual assault. Would it really hurt Universities to disband campus fraternalties?

    • Another Mike

      Believe it or not, there are fraternities whose mission is not to get young women tipsy, but rather to help their members get through college.

  • Kelli

    In many cases rape is preventable when bystanders intervene. The problem is that many times people witnessing situations that could lead to rape they often feel the potential victim deserves it because of the way they are acting or are dressed. This isn’t just a characteristic of males, it’s also a problem with females too and if as a society we can learn to stop blaming the victim we can at least help reduce the number of rape victims.

    • Guest

      .

  • C.A.

    I know that both females and males can be sexually assaulted. The majority tends to be females. I’m a parent of a very young child. What about starting the efforts even earlier by combating the stereotypes that very young girls are already exposed to by over-sexualized tv characters and toys. It starts early. Very young girls are already getting the message that they should look a certain way to get attention. Even though it might not be the right kind of attention they should be seeking.

    Let’s change the message to kids from, “Don’t get raped,” to, “Don’t rape.”

    • C.A.

      This objectification of females is also picked up by boys at a very young age.

      These messages conflict with teaching both girls and boys about proper sexual health education.

  • ES Trader

    Is this a college campus problem only or is this a general condition that has evolved culturally over the past 1/2 century ? Was this occurring in th3 70’s when I was in college and just unreported ?

    My opinion is that despite the supposed sophistication of today’s generation regarding via the internet, I find that young adults and teens neither have the knowledge nor morals of my generation.

    I don’t think that wider acceptance of liberal issues like gay/lesbian, drug legalization issues is a metric for their moral and intellectual status.

    • yumpopink

      Yeah as we all know rape was invented by the millenials *eyeroll*

      • ES Trader

        Just take a close look at the ” millenials” pop culture, rap music, guys wearing pants down on thighs, woman intentionally exposing bras above tops, use of profanity in public. Do yourself a favor and watch a mobie from 30 -50 years ago or just watch “Madmen” to see the difference.

        When I was in school, even at Cal, male teachers & profs at least wore a tie if not a suit & women teachers in dresses, skirts, and slacks, but did not wear sweatshirts except for P.E. teachers

        That doesnt mean everything is worse, lots of things are more enlightened today, but were troops in Vietnam or Korea raping Waves, or Wafs, then? I dont know for certain but it was unheard of during Vietnam Protest Days.

        Rapists have been around forever but moral suasion may have been a factor then

        • thucy

          Troops in Vietnam were too busy raping Vietnamese people to rape the lower proportion of female soldiers (waves).

          • ES Trader

            Of course they did, as Im certain troops in all wars since Atilla the Hun & Alexander the Great have done. Im just pointing out that troops raping its own seems like a recent occurence and that that dress codes etc are just a reflection of the current mores of society

          • thucy

            Kiyoshi,
            I think it “seems like a recent occurrence” but has probably occurred for ages in military units and anywhere else you have a lot of men cooped up together without enough female cohorts.
            After all, Winston Churchill didn’t refer to the Royal Navy as “rum, sodomy and the lash” because it was a model of gentlemanly restraint.

        • susan

          Kiyoshi, I believe you are on to something although Madonna in the 80s began the exposed bra and that’s 30 some years ago but it doesn’t detract from your point that Madmen is an excellent example of the “morals” we no longer seem to have….And the tie wearing professors along with the absence of sweatshirts must have had a profound impact on curbing violence against women. Unfortunately to answer your question, yes. Troops in Vietnam used rape as a weapon against Vietnamese women. There were no female US soldiers fighting in combat in Vietnam. There were nurses and support staff so you cannot compare the military of today to that of the Vietnam era. And according to Amnesty International “US soldiers in Vietnam
          reportedly gained the status of `double veteran’ by first forcing
          themselves sexually on a woman, either singly or with `buddies’ in gang
          rapes, and then murdering the victim.” Not sure if you want to use them as your moral compass. Maybe just stick to Madmen….

          • ES Trader

            I didnt mean to imply that US troops were not raping indigenous women, and of course there were no women fighting troops but it just seems that women in military, campuses etc being exposed to rape is more common today.

            Also, of course rapists and rape occurs regardless of dress standards but I think it simply is a reflection of the mores of the period. I am pointing to pop culture and attire as examples, look at what Hollywood feeds the movie and media audience today

  • Sam

    So how would the police know that the rape was premeditated and decisive. Compared to two drunk “victims” having sex with each other.

  • Jeff Dias

    Michael, we visited Northwestern with my daughter, a prospective student. There was an admission related group discussion underway. One student asked about rape and assault. The University representative responded with words about safety and indicated no problems. But my daughter had just read about an on-campus rape in the local paper. So she pointed this out. Her comment was met with a weak response. The University spokesperson was woefully unprepared. This resulted in my daughter choosing to attend another university.

  • Fay Nissenbaum

    Michael, for god sakes, state the LEGAL RULE that compels police and campus security officers to take police reports! This is crucial information for victims bullied or rebuffed by insensitive, untrained officers. It is important to be precise and clear in how to deal with cops who wont do or dont know their jobs! When in doubt, email/write or call the police dept’s chief and cc campus administration, eg, Deans, Chancellors, the college President. That gets more eyes on the police.

  • HMLew

    I started college at the age of 21 and can say that this is certainly not only an issue on college campuses. This is an overall cultural issue where others do not respect the autonomy of someone else.

    I have been harassed, and verbally and physically assaulted since the age of 11 by both my peers and men many years my senior. I’ve been roofied on several occasions and experienced date rape while in college (though away from college and not with a classmate).

    I feel providing consent education in college is important but it’s also too late. This education should start sooner.

  • I was trying to call in for about 20 minutes while listening to the program this afternoon but unfortunately was unable to get through until right when the program was ending.

    I wanted to comment on the stigma that Greek Life organizations receive, as well as the stigma that is placed directly on its members in regards to these sorts of situations. I completely acknowledge that there are organizations around the country that have lost control of their membership and have fallen into a trend of unacceptable behavior. There is no defense or justification for the things that have happened involving those groups.

    Where I begin to take issue with everything, in defense of Greek life, is when the Greek community as a whole is blamed for these incidents. The only time Greek Life is discussed or acknowledged in the news is in the event of a sexual assault, hazing incident, or some other major negative event. Never are the accomplishments of upstanding organizations recognized by the media. I have, unfortunately, never seen or heard a broadcast that highlights the achievements of the Greek Life organizations all over this country that dedicate hundreds of thousands of hours of community service for charitable organizations. Rarely do you hear about the groups who are working to make a difference in their communities.

    People are far too quick to assume that all Greek organizations are exact replicas of what they see on TV Shows and Movies. Far too many people associate ‘Animal House’ as being a blanket reality of Greek life. We know that these things do happen, but the reality is that it only accounts for a portion of our community and there are many National organizations, along with the local chapters they serve, working every day to educate their members in an attempt to end this behavior.

    • Another Mike

      Fraternities need good PR, which comes from charitable events that involve the community. You can do all the tutoring you want, or do carpentry for Habitat for Humanity, but such things do not make for a news story.

      • These things happen all over the country on a weekly basis. Greek life doing positive things never seems to be news worthy.

        It’s extremely troubling reading comments that only cite the negatives and then question why campuses don’t just disband and ban Greek life all together. Look at the history of Greek life and the countless leaders that have come from the Greek community. Presidents, Senators and Congressman/Congresswomen, and so on.

    • Saba

      I was going to make the same remark. Although it can be argued that there perhaps more opportunities to be involved in a sexual assault as a member of a Greek organization, the support system I found in my sorority is one of the only things that helped me heal from my experience.

  • Karen Chow

    I enjoyed today’s dialogue and information on this topic but also would like to remind everyone that sexual assaults also happen on campuses that do not have residential dorms or fraternities/sororities, such as community colleges, of which we have 112 in California alone.

    • Another Mike

      What are the issues at community colleges? At other campuses, victims are often young women away from home for the first time, not used to drinking, who meet a guy at a house party who doesn’t care if they can consent to sex or not. Community college students, if I’m not mistaken, are younger students still living at home, or older, more experienced students.

      • Karen Chow

        Mike, unfortunately at De Anza College last spring, we had a sexual assault in the women’s bathroom of the new Media Learning Center in the middle of the day on school day. There are definitely places where people can get assaulted and the assaults do not necessarily have to be primed by alcohol or drugs or “partying”

        • Karen Chow

          Correction: this incident is still under investigation, so officially it is an alleged sexual assault.

  • Bill

    What are the solutions proposed? Support the victims. Supply
    more rape kits. Provide better legal support. These are all post event knee-jerk
    reactions. These poor kids are going to keep getting raped! What ever happened
    to stopping the rapes from happening in the first place? Because, it’s not
    politically wise for a politician to tell young potential voters that they
    should stop drinking, partying, doing drugs, dressing like whores, indulging in
    pornography, and behaving like animals. Wouldn’t want to offend them or their
    parents. Doesn’t win votes. But this is exactly why we have this problem in the
    first place. And we perpetuate the problem and even promote it when we don’t
    take the higher ground and tell it like it is. Irrational, immoral, juvenile,
    selfish, violent behavior is the cause. And it’s not just the boys that are
    guilty. You talk about changing the culture, but you ignore the very cultural
    issues that have dramatically increased sex crimes. You never mention the
    saturation of our entertainment and marketing with graphic porn and violence.
    Where did you think this was going to lead?

  • putneydog

    I listened to some of this program yesterday with an increasing sense of rage. Campus rape and indeed rape of any stripe is not women’s problem, it is men’s problem. I would guess that almost all young women get at least one talk about keeping safe before they go off to college. Women know how to keep safe (even if they don’t always follow their own best advice). Young men going off to college are maybe told not to get anyone pregnant, but do their parents tell them “By the way, don’t rape anybody. And also, don’t have sex with a drunk person.”? Why aren’t all college men called to a mandatory meeting at the beginning of every school year and told “A big percentage of you are rapists. It hurts a woman to be raped as much as it would hurt you, if you were raped.” Let’s not pussyfoot around; no matter how careful women are, assaults will still happens because we are addressing the behavior of the wrong group of people. If a college has a sexual assault problem, why aren’t we restricting male behavior? Bedtime by ten pm for men and no more drinking. Now I don’t believe that colleges have any larger problem than any other part of the world. The world is not safe for women, not in Pakistan, not in Africa and not in America.

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