BEYOND MERE SURVIVAL


Q&A high school

here are some of the high school questions

4. Are there gangs of people that sexual assault?

Gang rape (as of gang members raping) does happen, but it’s more of an overblown media story than the reality of sexual assault. What is more frequent is that rape can happen at the hands of a group of people. That’s because there can be a lot of peer pressure to engage in a certain behavior within a group, or because the toxic ideas of gender we talked about on the first day can be exacerbated in a group setting, and sexual assault can become a way to prove one’s toughness, or masculinity. That’s why it’s so important to speak up against behaviors that are hurtful.


1. What if you are in an isolated place and you get raped?

Most people are raped in isolated places, as to minimize risks of getting caught. In terms of what you should you do if you are sexually assaulted, it really depends. Everyone has a different reaction to being attacked, and there is not necessarily one “good” way to react. Some people physically resist the assault, and some become numb because they are so scared, it’s important to remember that whatever reaction you had was appropriate, and that it’s important to trust your instincts. If you feel in danger, try to find a safer place. Many people say they felt unsafe but did not leave the situation for fear of being ridiculed, or because they did not want to show that they were uncomfortable.
2. How likely is it that the same perpetrator will strike the same victim again?
Many people that sexually assault are repeat offenders. There are several reasons for that: we have seen that holding certain beliefs of superiority and entitlement over other people can lead people to believe that it’s ok to rape as a way to feel powerful, to control and to humiliate. Rape can become a way for people to feel in power, and it has little to do with sexual desire. If a person feels that there will be no or little consequences for their choice to assault they might do it again. Consequences for raping are not limited to jail time, but could be isolation from friends and family, loss of jobs, humiliation and social shunning. Unfortunately there is very little research about the frequency of repeat rape because sexual assault is an incredibly difficult crime to measure and quantify.
3. How can a girl rape a boy?
We have seen that rape is not just forcing someone to have sex. Making somebody have sex through pressure, coercion, or threats is also rape. A woman can rape a man by using these tools of coercion. If you mean how it is physically possible, men’s bodies can have a sexual response to rape and sexual assault, because that’s what we are physiologically meant to do. I want to point out that most rapes are perpetrated by men, even when the victims are men, and not women. Another important note is that men that rape other men are straight men, which illustrates the fact that rape is not about sex; it’s about control and power.
4. Is it true that people that are more sexually “inclined” are more likely to rape, even though rape is about power and control?
Rape can become a tool to prove one’s masculinity, and we saw that one of the pressures that men have from society is to have many sexual partners, and to be overly sexual in order to be a “real” man. So the power and control motive is still there, even if sexual assault can be a way to prove one’s sexual prowess.


5. How is it acceptable to not report rape? Isn’t it everyone’s responsibility to report, so it stops happening?

As we saw in question #3, some of the most powerful deterrent when it comes to rape are not the treats of jail time, but the fear of losing social status, friends and family, or a job. One of the most powerful ways we have to stop sexual assault is to not tolerate a culture where some people are worth less than others, where we feel entitled to treat others poorly because of gender, sexual orientation, race or class. That can be calling someone out on a sexist joke, or just watching out for our own way of treating other people.
Another step would be to push for a criminal justice system that strives for true accountability, where survivors are heard, and where offenders have a chance to change instead of sitting in a cell for a few years and then being released back into society.

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