Letters to the Editor

Sexual assault: Don't accept female images

Staff at CADA endeavor during Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April to educate the public on this crime, which occurs across all socioeconomic classes and amongst all races. This crime is not gender specific, striking both males and females, adults as well as children. Additionally, sexual assault is a behavior learned socially through interaction with others and images portrayed by the media. However, statistics do show that females are the majority of victims in this type of crime.

As most of us know, in America sex sells and the largest group portrayed in this manner are women, as depicted by the entertainment industry and mass media. This message of strong sexual images and our society’s perpetuation of it are cause for concern as society legitimizes that it is acceptable to look at women sexually, denying the individuality of the person and allowing society to disregard them as real people who have feelings, dreams, and desires.

According to Thomas J. Sullivan, Professor of Sociology at Northern Michigan University, due to saturation of this kind by the mass media, it is not surprising that 60 percent of men and 40 percent of women believe that women provoke rape, thus fueling and supporting the cultural climate of sexual inequality toward women. It is these types of ideas that hold the victim responsible for the aggressor’s actions and ultimately place the blame for the crime on the victim. Circumstances such as these help make rape one of the most underreported crimes in the United States.

Although we encourage victims to come forward, recent events in the media have the potential to negatively impact many sexual assault victims in the area of reporting. CADA believes that if we fail to speak out against society’s views of who and what defines sexual assault, we serve to perpetuate the very existence of rape by encouraging the placement of blame on the victims. When victims of rape are held responsible for their own vicitimzation, we justify the behavior of rapists.

CADA supports the idea that we, as a society, need to stop accepting the images that are portrayed by the media, as they are dangerous due to the potential to negatively and adversely affect American girls and women, not only in the area of our sexuality, by in the area of body image and positive self-esteem. Instead we strongly encourage efforts to forward the status of women in our society through education and awareness.

Lisa Aguilar,

Legal advocate, CADA

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