Collegian’s look at sexual assault complacent

By Kate Siegfried
Senior media, rhetoric and  culture and gender, women and sexual studies double major

The Collegian’s recent coverage on sexual assault offers a complacent understanding that is detrimental to our campus culture.
The Sept. 18 article aptly demonstrated sexual assault is a problem on college campuses.  However, the authors failed to question why sexual assault exists at all.
This framing fails to address the misogynist social context in which rape occurs, thus ignoring the root of the issue and accepting sexual violence as an inescapable aspect of our reality.
Instead, the article’s “solutions” focused on reactionary responses and quotes from individuals who discussed self-defense courses and how men can step up and protect women.
While these aspects of education are important, given the current reality of sexual violence, focusing on these as solutions gives a skewed impression of what we can do to truly reduce sexual assault on college campuses and in our society as a whole.
One quote stated, “I think we, as men, can help prevent situations from happening by identifying danger and looking out for girls if they seem at risk.”  A more productive way to stop these acts of violence would be to cultivate a culture that tells men not to rape instead of simply responding to the existence of sexual violence.
Women don’t need men to “identify danger” or to “take control of a situation” for them.  These are not productive solutions because they accept rape and sexual violence as inevitable, along with perpetuating an oppressive social dynamic that fails to give women agency.
The Collegian interviewed individuals and presented the information obtained in an apparently unbiased fashion, but this does not eliminate responsibility.  These articles play a role in cultivating conversations on our campus.  If our media only gives light to reactionary solutions, then we will continue to focus our efforts in the wrong places.
Journalists carry immense responsibility when it comes to how a social issue is perceived.  They are often responsible for starting the public conversation.  Instead of starting the conversation by accepting misogyny and rape as a social given, let’s start with proactive, imaginative solutions.
Failing to question and investigate social context is lazy journalism, and The Collegian can do better. Butler University can do better.
It is not just The Collegian that is complacent in its stance against sexual violence. This example is representative of a much larger widespread rape culture epidemic.  However, as students and critical thinkers, The Collegian does have the ability and choice to be a part of a greater cultural shift and solution.
We must stop failing survivors of sexual assault by making invisible the reality of the situation.  The first step we can all take toward a more humane reality is to stop accepting sexual violence as an inevitable aspect of our society.
Journalists have an obligation to offer hope and vision to citizens.  Instead of taking a complacent position, I challenge The Collegian to offer an alternative vision of our community as a solution and to push others at our university to do the same.