What does rape culture look like? Special anti-rape nail polish. Making sure your skirt isn’t too short. 

Carrying a mattress around your campus until your rapist leaves, like Emma Sulcowicz at Columbia University. Having to take your drink to the bathroom with you at parties. Walking home at night with a knife in your purse and pepper-spray in your hand. But more than anything it looks like this: 237,868.

According to RAINN.org [Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network] 237,868 is the number of sexual assaults that occur each year.

These actions listed above are so ingrained in American women it is disturbing and even with all the preventative strategies we are given, sexual assaults are still occurring daily.

I believe the justice system needs to re-evaluate its priorities when it comes to crime in the U.S.

Although this number seems high, it is actually much higher. Only 40 percent of assaults are actually reported to police and less than 3 percent of sex offenders see any jail time.

The Keene State College Campus Safety 2013 Clery Report claims that only 10 forcible sexual assaults have been reported on campus between the years of 2010 and 2012.

Many people will look at that number and think, “Why is everyone saying sexual assault on college campuses is an epidemic? Only a few happened at my school in the past few years.”

Those numbers do not reflect the reality of the situation. The reality of the situation is, those are the assaults that have been reported.

Remember, only 40 percent or less of assaults get reported.

When I was in high school I had a long-term substitute teacher who was a student teacher through KSC, who told me horror stories about issues on campus.

Some of the worst were concerning the alleged “rape room” [a supposed room where girls would be brought with no known exit] and a story about a female student who was drugged with horse tranquilizers and gang-raped.

Whether these stories are true about KSC are open to debate, but there is no doubt in my mind that even if those two instances didn’t happen here, they undoubtedly happened somewhere else.

So, if assaults are happening so frequently, why are they going unreported? Fear, slut-shaming and excuses.

The Steubenville rape case is one that most are familiar with. According to CSMonitor.com [The Christian Science Monitor], an intoxicated female high school student in Steubenville, Ohio was publicly-sexually assaulted by several of her peers in 2012.

The perpetrators recorded and published images and videos of the assault.

One of the boys who committed this violent crime happened to also be on the football team.  He was permitted back on the Steubenville High School team almost immediately. The public was more concerned about the boys’ reputations and how the publicity of the incident might ruin their lives because they were “such promising students.”

What about the girl?

Popular media highlighted how she was intoxicated when the assault happened. Just that one simple note of “she was drunk” implies that she is to blame for being taken advantage of.

In a more recent incident, Cee Lo Green, popular musical artist and judge on “The Voice,” posted a tweet excusing rape, in an effort to repair his image after he was sentenced to “three years’ probation and 45 days of community service,” according the an early Sept. article on newsweek.com.

The allegations? Date rape. The charges? “One felony count of furnishing a controlled substance,” according to FoxNews.com.

Green’s tweets are as follows, the first: “If someone is passed out they’re not even WITH you consciously, so WITH implies consent.”

The first tweet is a little ambiguous and almost sounds like he’s implying date rape is inexcusable, but then in his second tweet, he is condoning date rape by saying, “People who have really been raped REMEMBER!!!”

In not so many words, Green was saying that date rape is permissible. He is excusing all the men who have drugged girls with rohypnol, GHB or ketamine [special K].

He is excusing all the men who have purposefully gotten girls so drunk that they blackout. He is excusing what happened in Steubenville and what is an all too-common occurrence on college campuses.

He is excusing one of the most inexcusable acts you can commit against a fellow human being.

I have friends and colleagues who have been assaulted. I have seen what it does to people. It absolutely destroys them.

Nightmares, flashbacks, living in fear—no one wants to be assaulted. No one wants to have their entire life taken away from them and then see no justice for the one who took it.

No matter what they were wearing, they were not asking for it. If someone does not give you explicit consent, back off. Saying “no” is not their way of playing hard to get. It’s their way of saying “no.” Yes means yes.

More needs to be done for victims of assault. In U.S. society victims are punished and perpetrators are praised.

They are let off on minimal charges to keep them out of prison, while the majority of convicts in the U.S. prison system are there for drug charges.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, almost 100,000 inmates in the prison system are there for nonviolent drug offenses, while less than 12,000 are there for violent offenses—meanwhile there are almost 300,000 sexual assaults happening each year.

If that isn’t injustice at it’s finest, I don’t know what is.

To those on this campus and beyond who have been assaulted, you are not to blame. If you have been assaulted please seek out support—you are not alone.


MVCP 24-Hour Crisis Line: 1-888-511-6287


KSC Counseling Center: (603) 358-2437


Campus Safety: (603) 358-2228


Keene Police Department: (603) 357-9815



Emily Bouffard can be contacted at ebouffard@keene-equinox.com

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