Female student stands up to claims of 'rape culture'
It's not brave to "speak out" on a topic that the media loves and will defend one on. It is brave to stand up for the truth despite what the media and activists claim is true.
That is the case of Toni Airaksinen, a Barnard College sophomore who penned an essay for the Columbia Spectator dismantling the claim that colleges across the country are fostering a "rape culture."
Airaksinen spends her essay informing readers how a study purporting to show that one-in-five women will be sexually assaulted while in college is misleading. For starters, the study — from the Association of American Universities — uses a "ridiculously wide definition of sexual assault," according to Airaksinen. This definition includes "everything from penetration to unwanted groping," she writes.
Airaksinen writes that she, and arguably many of her friends, think "rape" when they hear sexual assault, or something "comparatively traumatizing." She acknowledges that others, such as activists who parrot the one in five studies, view sexual assault as something that could include "unwanted touching or even street harassment."
Airaksinen lays out a hypothetical situation where she is kissed without her consent. She writes that it would be "majorly uncomfortable," but she would not consider it sexual assault. The AAU, however, most likely would.
She also notes that the primary reason the survey's "victims" don't report is because they didn't view the incident as serious enough to report.
Alcohol is one of the biggest factors when considering whether a woman was able to consent, and Airaksinen notes that the AAU survey doesn't address what percentage of students allegedly committing sexual assault had been drinking.
"I know that after tossing back a couple of glasses of wine, I would certainly be more willing to have sex. If I answered the survey truthfully, I would be considered a victim," she wrote. "But if I'm the victim of assault because I had unwanted sex after topping off a bottle of wine, then what about the person whom I had sex with, who was probably drinking, too?"
She added: "If I felt traumatized, the other person would be considered the perpetrator, even if they were just as drunk as I was. And even if I didn't feel traumatized, I'd still be a victim."
Airaksinen urges caution to those throwing around the one in five statistic, because it undermines true victims by equating minor slights into full-blown assaults. She also notes that adding the statistic to a story about someone's accusation colors the reader's perception of the story (i.e., they will believe the accuser, even without evidence).
"As undergraduates at one of the most elite universities in the country, it seems like we have to prove that we are exceptional in every way, from our academic prowess, to how sexually victimized we are. This is ridiculous," Airaksinen. "The incredulity that people feel after reading a fallacious analysis of a statistic isn't good."
In this day and age, it is heartening to see students like Airaksinen stand on the side of reason when it comes to the emotionally charged issue of campus sexual assault.