You read that right. Unfortunately, this is not some sort of bogus click-bait article you see floating around Facebook with a sensationalized headline that says something like “And you won’t BELIEVE what happened next! My jaw is ON THE FLOOR!” This is a very real statistic and a very real problem.
Professor Sarah Edwards lead a study including 86 heterosexual male college students who were administered a series of surveys asking about the likelihood of participating in certain types of sexual behaviors. One of which was using force to have sex with a woman [rape]. The stipulation? The circumstance would be ”if nobody would ever know and there wouldn’t be any consequences.”
According to the study: “One-third of participants (31.7%) said they would force a woman to have sexual intercourse in a “consequence-free situation” – and many wouldn’t label or recognize their actions as “rape.” Moreover, 13.6% of participants said they would rape a woman.”
First, let’s address the elephant in the room. Yes, the sample size is tiny. Yes, it is only one college campus surveyed. But also according to the study: “Federal data estimate that about one in five women becomes the victim of sexual assault while in college, most of which is committed by assailants known to the victim (National Center for Injury Prevention and Control 2012).” Obviously this is a sample size far larger than 86, and someone out there is creating these victims. One can easily reach the conclusion that if a wider net was cast for this study, there would still be some fish caught.
Let’s not even get started on the fact that the concept of “consequence-free rape” actually even exists in the first place. But, moving on…
This is a serious issue for many reasons. First of all, there are clear implications here that American boys are not understanding the severity of what rape actually is. With any issue in any society, if we have a ‘moral society’ that is only being held together by the glue of rules and regulations, we must ask if we actually have a moral society. Or, do we just have a bunch of people who are walking around suppressing violent urges for fear of punishment?
Some may say that this is the entire point of rules and consequences, to keep these people in line. Sure, point taken – and it makes me glad that we do have these rules in place. But, I’m not really sure if that’s good enough for me.
And, I’m not really sure if it should be good enough for you, either. Is it good enough for your girlfriend? Your sister? Your mother? The thought that one out of every three men would be perfectly fine with raping them if he knew he would not be punished? Is it good enough to know that a rule written on a piece of paper somewhere is stopping him? It is not good enough for me.
This reminds me of the movie The Purge, where all laws are suspended for one night and the world goes into complete anarchy. I have to ask myself if how I would act would really change for that one night. The only time I would turn violent would be to protect people I love, never to go out and steal or pillage.
The same moral question arises here: How many people reading this article would walk outside and rob a store or bank if it suddenly became “okay” to do so? How many would rape a woman? How many would kill someone?
Hearing that one third of male students would be totally fine raping a woman if they wouldn’t be punished is clear evidence that someone is not raising their sons properly. Legality should have nothing to do with the decision to not rape a woman. Morals, values, regard for human life, and respect for others should play far more of a role than the punishment someone might face.
The study itself, which is needless to say far more in depth and detailed than anything I could ever write here, is an important read for both men and women. I believe it gives us some insight into thought processes and issues we need to address in society.
Most of the interaction that happens on this website as well as my Twitter and Facebook pages comes from women – but men, I am calling you out here. I want to know your thoughts on these findings. I want to know how you feel about the concept that if you are sitting between two other men, one of them might potentially rape a woman who you love. And – I want to know what you think we can do to help fix this.
All of this is unacceptable, and frankly it disgusts me that we are all walking around as if these issues are not real. As if someone close to us has not been affected by an act of sexual violence in one way or another. As if jokes about rape are harmless or in some way funny. As if a member of your family could not either perpetrate or be a victim of a rape.
It is time that we, as men, take a stand and speak out. Our voices play a valuable role in this fight and if we do not use them, it is as if we had no voices at all.
I, for one, will never stop fighting against this. The question is, who will be standing next to me?
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