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Asking For It-Unreported Campus Rape

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"Asking for it": Unreported Campus Rape

Overview:

Sexual assault continues to exist as a serious problem on college campuses in the United States and few women ever report the crime or utilize resources available to them. "Although rape is a traumatic, destructive, life-altering experience, some researchers suggest that a significant proportion of victims do not tell anyone about being assaulted when it happens, particularly if they have experienced date or acquaintance rape, and a majority of rape victims seek no follow-up counseling" (Patricia et al 213). "Date and acquaintance rape appears to be a significant problem in American society in general and accounts for approximately 80% of all rapes on college campuses" (Patricia et al 213). Studies show that upwards of 38% of women have affirmed personal incidences of sexual victimization on one or more occasion and one out of three college women know of someone that has been raped. Out of these 38% only 6% reported a complete rape and 4% reported an attempted rape (Nasta et al 91).

Several reasons cited by women for the lack of reporting include fear, embarrassment and guilt, and lack of confidentiality (Nasta et al 93, 95). With the growing number of resources for assaulted women, one has to wonder why rape continues to happen on college campuses. Some studies blame alcohol usage in the collegiate population and others cite men's negative views of women. Regardless of the reasons for rape on college campuses, studies conclude that intensive, sustained rape education efforts play a vital role in decreasing rape supportive attitudes and dismantling rape supportive culture (Klaw et al 59, 62).

The need for increased rape prevention education continues to exist on college campuses. In the movie Higher Learning, John Singleton portrays what appears to be a popular rape scenario, exposing rape attitudes and societal perceptions of rape. This paper will briefly describe Kristen's rape, events that led up to that rape, and reasons that she did not report the rape. Using "character analysis", this paper will use these segments of the film to explore the relationship between Kristin and Billy to analyze why Kristen did not report the rape. Using the "Ideological Analysis" film theory, this paper will also use the film's portrayal of rape, implicit and explicit messages or meanings conveyed in the film, and the accepted ideas and beliefs of society to analyze why women do not report rape and sexual assault and why a need for rape education and developing rape consciousness on college campuses exists today (Klaw et al 47).

Theory Application:

In Higher Learning, Billy and Kristen become visibly intoxicated from consuming large amounts of alcohol at a bar. Kristen then returns with Billy to his fraternity house where the rape takes place. After the assault, Kristen ran from the fraternity house, continuing to run past campus security phones even though a friend had been recently informed her on their purpose. Afterwards, she tells her friend that she does not want to report the rape because "they will think I asked for it." Each of these segments demonstrates the need for rape awareness on college campuses.

When Kristen ran past the campus security phones, on a surface level it would appear that Kristen initially did not report the rape because she was scared and only wanted to get back to the safety of her dorm room. With her mental state altered due to the large amounts of alcohol that she had consumed, and her probable limited interaction with men on a sexual level, she most likely felt confused. In fact, in her altered state of mind Kristen initially may not have viewed the act as rape.

In the article Alcohol Related Violence and Unwanted Sexual Activity on the College Campus, the authors state that even when women's descriptions of sexual assault met most legal definitions of rape they were still reluctant to report their experiences to campus or local law enforcement agencies. One of this study's explanations for women's underreporting of rape rationalized that when women are under the influence of alcohol, they tend to feel more responsible for the attack then when sober. Alcohol has been clearly identified as a contributory factor in date and acquaintance rape in young women. "A study by Koss and Dinero reported that alcohol is one in four primary predictors in a female's chance of being raped" and a different study by Miller and Marshall discovered that 60% of women used drugs or alcohol when the rape occurred (Nicholson et al 2). Another study showed alcohol involvement in over 30% of the rape cases reported to them, in either the perpetrator or the victim (Patricia et al 217). An article in New Scientist parallels these findings by reporting a study by the Journal of Clinical Forensic Medicine found that 32% of the rape victims had consumed enough alcohol to make them pass out or suffer from memory loss (13). The results from these studies and others consistently reveal a strong correlation between alcohol use and sexual violence on college campuses, and the underreporting of these crimes (Nicholson 2-3).

However on a deeper level, when evaluating the rape scene between Kristen and Billy, the film shows Billy kissing and caressing Kristen and her appearing to enjoy it. Then Billy attempts to have intercourse with Kristen without putting a condom on. Kristen repeatedly asks Billy to put a condom on and he keeps telling her to "wait a minute". Finally, after these unsuccessful attempts to get Billy to use protection, Kristen fights back pushing Billy off of her and runs from the fraternity house. So, one could also surmise that Kristen did not report the incident due to the fact that she felt guilty about starting to have intercourse with Billy and then changing her mind. When we evaluate Billy's character we see he looks surprised when Kristen pushes him off of her and runs from the house. He also tries to call her afterwards and apologizes to her later. Kristen may not have reported the rape at this time because she felt Billy truly sorry or she may have felt she had given him mixed signals. Studies also suggest that a significant proportion of younger Caucasian sexual assault victims do not report the crime, especially if the perpetrator is a date or acquaintance (Rickert, Wiemann, and Vaughan 17). So we could also assume that Kristen did not report the rape because she anticipated future encounters with Billy.

It would appear that Kristen and Billy had very different perceptions about what happened during the rape. They had both been drinking alcohol and Kristen seemed to be

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