Campus sexual assault is everyone’s problem, says activist

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Jeff Bucholtz told a rapt audience that words matter and Americans must stop degrading women.

Jeff Bucholtz told a rapt audience that words matter and Americans must stop degrading women.

 

Forget the sticks and stones platitudes, words do hurt.

Anti-rape activist and communications instructor Jeff Bucholtz returned with his popular and provocative “Men Against Rape” presentation at a time when the nation is finally having a serious conversation about sexual assault on college campuses.

The Obama Administration recently issued a statement warning colleges and universities that failure to report and address rape will be met with harsh sanctions, including loss of federal funding. More than 100 colleges across the country are under investigation for not adequately enforcing federal laws to ensure a safe collegiate environment.

Stats surrounding rape are troubling. Almost 1 in 4 women are raped, according to federal studies of sexual assault. Only about quarter of these women describe the incident as rape and only 10 percent of those reported.

Bucholtz said he is sometimes asked why his presentation is called “Men Against Rape” rather than “People Against Rape.” Rape affects men also, he acknowledged. About 1 in 9 rape victims are men.

California’s well-intended “Yes Means Yes” policy is a bit misguided, Bucholtz said, because it puts the responsibility on the victim to speak up when often the fear and shock of an incident make that impossible. He defined anything sexual that is non-consensual as rape. With rape, he said, “You lose the ability to choose what happens in a sexual encounter.”

Bucholtz has been on the forefront of these issues for more than a decade. More than 1,000 students have attended his seminars already this year. His love of theatre and women’s studies have made him a powerful advocate.

“I did study theatre and performing arts my whole life, it has been a big part of my adult life,” he said. “I enjoy bringing performing arts, comedy and entertainment to help people connect to these important issues.”

Entertainment media plays an enormous role in sexual perception. TV, music and movies present twisted concepts of what good sex is. They seldom align with reality, Bucholtz said.

Young adults we have practically been taught not to communicate, he added. Communication is portrayed as “lame, boring, and kills the mood,” he said.

“We have been taught through a world of fiction,” he said. “Why wouldn’t we do that here all of the sudden? We literally grew up in a place where they don’t do that. But that place isn’t real, it’s make believe.”

Sex roles are often vicious. Sexually-active American men are praised and somehow respected. Women, however, can be considered a “slut,” “whore” or “easy.” Women, ironically, are also labeled “prude,” “boring” or “stuck up.” For a man, however, it is an issue of masculinity, Bucholtz said. Men who “run like a girl” or “play like a girl” are looked down on as if being compared to a girl is a bad thing.

Students Dulcie Bowen and Miranda Fleming said how the seminar opened their eyes.

“[The presentation] definitely gave us the tools to help change,” Bowen said. “Maybe we can lighten up the situations that happen on campus.”

 

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