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Letter to the Editor: A response to "To prevent sexual assault, we must reevaluate views on sex"

To the Editor: College discourse around sexual assault is actually quite disturbing. While most people are choosing to stay silent in the face of growing violence toward women and victim blaming, conversations about campus sexual assault have failed to even scrape the surface of finding any true solution. Unless you are advocating to end sexual assault in ways that address systemic oppression and don’t perpetuate victim blaming, then you are part of the problem, not the solution.

An article published in The Chronicle last week, titled, “To prevent sexual assault, we must reevaluate views on sex,” argued that hookup culture was one of the leading causes of sexual assault. The author tries to tie casual sex to the high rates of assaults while twisting feminists’ goals to justify his arguments. He wrongly writes that feminism connects sexual experience to self-worth.

First and foremost, so many have refused to acknowledge who’s being targeted by the violence. Although men can and have been raped, violence against women, particularly women of color, is drastically higher than any other group at a one in five chance of assault. We only perpetuate oppressive systems of violence toward marginalized people when we don’t openly admit the privilege it is to be born male, especially when talking about sexual assault.

Some have argued that the emergence of hookup culture has cultivated a breeding ground for sexual assault. But what does it say about our social upbringing if we believe that sexual assault is the result of just wanting to have sex? How can we find a solution to ending assault when we still believe a woman’s worth and respect is tied to her sexual behavior?

The problem with sexual assault on campus is not hookup culture. Many students engage in casual sex, but at no point is that solely at fault for assaulting women. Predators and rapists are the only ones responsible for sexual violence, assault and rape. The problem is growing up in a society that refuses to talk about sex critically and places so much pressure and self-worth on an act of pleasure. The problem is the myth of a gray area of consent. It’s unsettling structures of power and entitlement of others’ bodies. Sexual assault is fostered by a society that tells some men they can act with impunity. But it is not casual sex.

Yes, we absolutely have to change our views about sex, but toward a more open conversation. There is nothing wrong with wanting to have sex a lot, sometimes or never. The feminist movement for sexual liberation and reproductive justice that came from the 20th century didn’t disregard or diminish any person’s worth, as some say, but encouraged us to challenge public conversation about sex. Sex positivity says that everyone deserves a healthy, shameless, consensual sex life regardless of their gender, health or age, emphasizes personal choice and denounces any shaming of others’ choices. It’s, in the words of Allena Gabosch’s “A Sex Positive Renaissance,” “an attitude towards human sexuality that regards all consensual sexual activities as fundamentally healthy and pleasurable and encourages sexual pleasure and experimentation.”

We should be dismantling double standards and ending any trace of victim blaming, never contributing to them. We need to talk about justice. Ending sexual assault means talking about consent and developing thoughtful curricula that instill our youth with respect and responsibility not just for themselves, but also for others.

Denisse Girón

 

The views and opinions expressed in the Op-Ed section are those of the authors of the articles. They are not an endorsement of the views of The Chronicle or its staff. The Chronicle does not discriminate based on the opinions of the authors. 

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