Challenging Attitudes & Changing Perspectives: Decreasing Sexual Assaults

30 Oct

ImageBy: Heidi Bishop
NASW Ohio Chapter Intern

On October 14 USA Today ran an article about a flyer found in Miami University’s co-ed bathroom: “College Flier lists ‘top ten ways to get away with rape.’” The flyer includes horrific suggestions like “practice makes perfect; the more you rape, the better you get,” climbing through windows to rape their victims to teach them not to leave the window unlocked, and if the rapist is identified the list suggested slicing her throat.

Rape has been an increasing issue in our society.  The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network reports 720 people are sexually assaulted every day in the United States and only three percent of rapists will serve time for their crime.  The USA Today article reports 27 sexual assault cases since 2009 at Miami University.  Many factors contribute to these social injustices, but lets face it we live in a sexualized world.  Porn can be easily viewed with one click on a computer and sex scenes can be watched in common new releases.  These forms of entertainment produce an idealization of the bodies that degrade human beings to a mere object.  I understand that men can view pornography and not commit violence against women. My focus is to discuss the contributing factors that lead to some men violating women.

The FBI reports an interesting correlation between pornography and violent sex crimes.  They estimate pornography is discovered in 80 percent of the locations of the violent sex crime or in the perpetrators homes.  The University of New Hampshire conducted a study on states with the highest readership of pornographic magazines such as Playboy and Penthouse and found a parallel relationship between the top porn reader states and states with the highest rates of rape.

In addition to the issues of porn, men are being taught, at an early age, to pursue sexual experiences to increase bragging rights, respect, and display their manhood. The underlying result from this mentality is that sex is demoralized and the act is about self-gratification compared to mutual enjoyment and respect.  As young men mature, the numbers are not enough to brag about and the focus turns to domination.  Their views of women change from being a number, to a mere animal that deserves or can be dominated.

How do we avoid this progression?  We do this by focusing on parents, especially the influence of the father.  The Ohio Domestic Violence Network has created a program called Engaging Men and Boys.  It is a safe place for previous offenders to talk with other men about these issues.  The program hopes to utilize a learning environment that creates a change of thinking.  If we can challenge the attitudes that have existed for so long, then hopefully we can foster a change of perspective and therefore a change in action.  The program is looking for men to partner with previous offenders in hopes of transforming their mindset.  Please consider supporting this new program and helping us teach men and boys how to deflect society’s heightened sexual messages and prevent the progression towards perpetration.

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