Over the last several years, there has been a fair amount of media attention placed on sexual assault of women on college campuses, and the lack of response to those assaults. Most recently, Rolling stone magazine published a scathing article about the response to an alleged gang rape at a fraternity party at the University of Virginia. Though the validity of that assault has recently come under fire, according to the Washington Post, in 2012, sexual assaults were reported on the campuses of at least 55 percent of approximately 1,500 colleges and universities with greater than 1,000 students. The sex offenses include “rape, sodomy, fondling and sexual assault with an object.” This age old issue is finally grabbing the attention of politicians across the country, not just President Obama. “The American people have kind of woken up to the fact that we’ve got a serious problem when 20 percent of coeds say they’ve been sexually assaulted,” said Jackie Speier, U.S. House of Representative Democrat from California.
Fifty-five colleges and universities, including Harvard University, Princeton University and Dartmouth University, are under federal investigation for violations of Title IX, in relation to mishandling of reports of sexual violence on college campuses. Title IX is part of the education Amendments of 1972 that protects people from discrimination based on gender in education programs and activities that receive federal assistance.
Another recent example is the Ray Rice scandal, where on February 15 the NFL star and his then-girlfriend were engaged in an argument that turned physical in the elevator of the Atlantic City casino that they were visiting. During the dispute, Ray Rice hit his fiancé so hard that she was knocked unconscious. As she lay on the elevator floor, he proceeded to kick and pull her, with seemingly no latent regard for her well-being. To make matters worse, as she came to, many witnesses began to gather around. All men, they can be seen on the video leaked my media outlet TMZ just standing there. It isn’t until the first woman comes into the frame that anyone seems to check her condition.
The lack of value for women is further evidenced by the continued wage Gap between comparably qualified men and women.
“There is a belief, which is just not true, that women are just in bad occupations and if we just put them in better occupations, we would solve the gender gap problem,” claims Dr. Claudia Goldin, a Harvard University labor economist.
She further argues that if we could somehow place all women into more prestigious, higher salaried professions such as doctors or lawyers, it would close about “15 percent of the pay gap for all workers and between 30 and 35 percent for college graduates.”
Recently, President Obama spoke about the White House’s “It’s On Us” campaign, to help bring attention to sexual assault and domestic violence issues, saying “It is not just on parents of young women to caution them, it is on the parents of young men to teach them respect for women. It is on grown men to set an example and be clear about what it means to be a man.”
It has long been said that rape is a crime of power and not of sex. I therefore must infer that the number of sexual assaults on college campuses and elsewhere are a demonstration of the imbalance of power between the sexes. I can only hope that we are moving toward a time in society where women are respected for what we have to offer, and moreover, that we will not need to be sexually objectified to prove it.