Gov. Jerry Brown’s signing of the affirmative consent law is a step forward in improving the prosecution of sexual assaults on college campuses and counseling for the victims, but it is only part of the solution.
The other part is for men to understand and correct our actions.
The “yes-means-yes” law now changes the legal definition of consent to require participants to acquire “an affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity.”
The law is an attempt to reduce the number of sexual assaults on college campuses, which one in five undergraduate women had attempted or completed against them, according to a 2012 report by the Center for Disease Control.
The effects it has on the victims are devastating and long-lasting, if not perpetual.
Victims are three times more likely to suffer from depression, 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol, 26 times more likely to abuse drugs and four times more likely to contemplate suicide, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network.
We as men need to understand our part in all of this.
Female rape survivors were attacked by men 98.1 percent of the time and male rape survivors were attacked by men 93 percent of the time, according to the 2011 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey.
And while cisgender men are equally likely to experience sexual harassment as cisgender women on college campuses, men commit sexual harassment at a 20 percent higher rate than women, according to a 2006 study by the American Association of University Women.
In addition, LGBT students are 12 percent more likely to be harassed than heterosexuals and cisgender students.
Pierce College students are not innocent of these offenses, either. Just last semester a woman was assaulted by a man assisting her with her car battery.
The Roundup has been approached with student complaints about harassment walking around campus or through the gym.
And just last week I witnessed two tall students accosting every woman wearing vaguely revealing clothes for their phone numbers and laughing at their intimidated reactions.
What one is wearing is not an invitation for harassment or assault, nor is a friendly smile.
This harassment creates a hostile environment for the women who just want to attend class and study, and those who do this regularly need to re-evaluate their behaviors
But aside from the obvious necessity for men to stop harassing or assaulting, the rest of us need to stop this behaviour when we see it.
Those who stand by and do nothing or laugh along with the jokes enable abusers and are complicit in this harassment. They allow the perpetrators to think their actions are acceptable.
It’s time for men to put an end to these actions and police those around us as much as possible. Not just at Pierce, but in all locations. The only way to reduce these numbers is to change our behavior.