The raped are never willing

Sarah James

I was hanging out with a group of friends a few days ago, and somehow the topic of rape came up in our conversation.

One friend of mine brought up the case of an acquaintance’s rape that occurred in his hometown. Instead of sympathizing with the victim, my friend took the other route: He sympathized with the aggressor.

“I mean, she was wearing a really short skirt and a low-cut top. She clearly wanted it to happen,” he said, as my jaw dropped. “She shouldn’t have complained that she was raped when she clearly didn’t do anything to stop him. That girl had sex with everyone.”

I was shocked. I couldn’t believe someone I talked with on a daily basis had such an archaic view of women. I couldn’t believe he had such an ignorant view on something so inherently horrible.

After thinking it over, I realized that my friend was probably not alone in his beliefs, and I couldn’t really blame him for being so misinformed. The media shapes our opinion of sexual assault whether we like it to or not.

Whenever a young woman is found after being raped or murdered, the media make it a point to say she was dressed provocatively or walking alone at night. In saying this, they send a message of warning to women:

Don’t wear revealing clothing, or you might be raped. Make sure you always have a man to walk you home, or you could be assaulted. Hide your sexuality, or you may become a victim of a sexual predator.

Why, of all messages, is this the one the media choose to send us? Why is the message not aimed toward the aggressor? Perhaps “Hey everyone! Stop abducting and raping!” would be a more efficient and appropriate message.

The truth is, approximately 60 percent of rapes go unreported. According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, one in six women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime, compared with one in 33 men.

Instead, the media recap the story on the news and plaster our television screen with the victim’s senior picture.

The media make it seem that there are sex-crazed strangers hiding out in the bushes, waiting to take advantage of unsuspecting and alone victims. In reality, roughly 73 percent of victims know their assailants personally. For the media, it is easier to peg strangers as the villain instead of the person sitting behind you in economics class.

With this kind of coverage, it is no wonder why so many rapes go unreported. The media suggests the victim somehow brought the attack upon his or herself, and they must be ashamed. Unless the media stop sensationalizing rape, little about our reactions will change.

Maybe people like my friend need to be better educated about the subject of acquaintance rape. Maybe we all do. To me, this is clear: Rape is never the victim’s fault, no matter his or her choice in clothing, level of intoxication or sexual history.

Sarah James is a sophomore public relations major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].