Letter to the Editor: Make sexual assault education, not fear

V. Camille Westmont

Dear editor,

In response to your published opinion, “Letter to the Editor: Sexual assault is an unfortunate reality, women should take precautions” on Jan. 11, I would like to highlight the danger of this type of rhetoric — rhetoric that has no basis in reality and compares drastically, almost comically, unrelated items to prove shallow points that are little more than the personal windmills for men who have little recognition of their privilege.

However, I will gladly play along with this game to illustrate my point, although I question the decision of the editors to validate this man’s personal mission by publishing such a minimally informed piece.

Are we to assume that human males have the same level of responsibility for their actions as a wild bear? They just can’t help themselves? Aside from the ridiculousness of this analogy, it completely ignores the reality of rape: the majority of women are not raped by random “bears in the Rockies.”

They’re raped by men they know, possibly even trust, who take advantage of a situation in a horrendous and disgusting way. Maybe if the bear invited you to church, introduced you to its parents, and was your Facebook friend, we’d have a more realistic metaphor for what this confused man is trying to convey.

And why can’t we sit down every student — men and women alike — and teach about consent? If we do this consistently in our society, which has mandatory educational requirements, within 5-6 years the majority of men who commit the sexual assaults that currently affect 1 in 4 college aged women in this country’s academic institutions, including at the University of Kentucky, would be reached.

Our politicians don’t care about this issue enough to make it part of our high school curriculum, and the current hullabaloo over sexual education in the country is only adding to the misinformation and, eventually, dangerous situations that many women find themselves in every single day.

We can change the state of rape in this country, but telling everyone that women should “beware of bears,” since there is nothing we can do to educate men, is short sighted, silly, and frankly only serves to perpetuate the victim blaming women constantly undergo.

V. Camille Westmont is a 2013 alumnus of the UK College of Arts and Sciences, and a current Ph.D. candidate at the University of Maryland.

Email [email protected]