Staff editorial: rape culture

Xavier University has a less than ideal history when it comes to sexual assault. It’s just a fact.

Recently, though, Xavier appears to be making strides to change the way it handles these cases, first and foremost through the hiring of a full-time Title IX coordinator. In making the position full-time, Xavier is recognizing that issues related to Title IX require constant, diligent effort.

Changing the treatment of sexual assault on this campus cannot be achieved solely through administrative efforts, regardless of the time and budget dollars put forth; it requires that we alter the way we view sexual assault, both as individuals and as a society.

We live in a society that likes to blame the victim, particularly when it comes to instances of sexual violence and misconduct. We blame short skirts, flirtation and embracing one’s sexuality, anything but the offender. It’s easier to justify these acts when we decide that someone has brought them upon himself or herself, when he or she was “asking for it.”

Let’s be clear: no one is ever “asking” to be sexually assaulted. Our culture will say otherwise. Games like Grand Theft Auto, comedians like Daniel Tosh and countless other forms of mass media will feed directly into this lie. It is our responsibility to know and fight for the truth: our society perpetuates this rape culture, and no one can fix it but us.

We have to stop talking about rape and sexual violence in a way that suggests they are acceptable. Calling your friends sluts or bitches is not endearing, catcalling at groups of women is not a compliment and a winky face in a text message is not an invitation. No one is entitled to another person’s body.

All of these behaviors are individually problematic, and compounding them magnifies the harm. Addressing only one will not eliminate rape culture. Be a part of the solution, not the problem.