With recent high-profile cases gaining media traction, as well as California’s recent passing of the Yes means Yes legislation last fall, it is no secret that there is a misunderstanding in United States culture about what rape is, and what the consequences entail.
Rape is rape, no matter how you slice it.
Seriously, why are we all still having this discussion?
Regardless of if you’re a psychopathic serial killer or that perfect student athlete who “made a mistake on a drunken night” and “aren’t really that person,” the fact is that if you’re performing a sexual act on someone else who is not actively consenting, you’re still committing an act of rape.
That statement alone should be the end of the discussion, but since it isn’t, let’s delve into this further to hammer home why no one–no matter what his or her societal stature–should be able to commit such a horrible crime and have it simply slip the minds of people.
The never-ending debate struck again in January, when two former Vanderbilt University football players, Cory Batey and Brandon Vandenburg, were found guilty of aggravated rape to an unconscious, intoxicated woman in June 2013.
Batey was charged with three counts of aggravated rape and one count of attempted aggravated rape, while Vandenburg was found guilty of three counts of aggravated rape.
Video of the two during the verdict reading shows Bates with his head down, while Vandenburg continually shook his head.
The two reactions are almost that of a small child being lectured about leaving the lights on when they leave a room, or forgetting to throw their food away.
During the verdict reading for Vandenburg, his father, Rob Vandenburg, even interrupted by screaming out “That is terrible!”
No, not terrible that his son raped an intoxicated woman, but terrible that he was convicted for it.
During Batey’s trial, several of his family members were full of emotion and in tears.
Additionally, Batey’s attorney essentially made the argument that Batey was so intoxicated during the incident that he was unaware of what he was actually doing.
This is a separate matter altogether, but if you can’t control your alcohol intake to the point that you have no mental and physical control of yourself, then you need to find a new activity to partake in.
Stories like the Vanderbilt case shouldn’t even exist in news anymore. It took until 1993 before every state had rid themselves of all marital rape exemptions, and over two decades later we’re still as a country trying to define what is and isn’t rape in any stance.
More horrifyingly, according to a recent study, nearly one third of college males will actually admit they’ve raped someone, so long as the act isn’t described with the word “rape.”
A survey asked several questions that directly asked about raping someone and carefully worded questions that would describe the act as “forced sexual intercourse.”
The study showed that largely, men would not commit an act of rape, but would in fact engage in “forced intercourse.”
While the study is eye-opening, it’s also masking a larger problem.
Why are we splitting hairs here? Again, we’re smarter than this.
Regardless of your celebrity, monetary income, or inability to accept responsibility for your actions while under the influence of substance, the idea that rape is ever acceptable in our modern world is ridiculous.
If someone owed you $100, handed you a fifty dollar bill, and said “here’s your $100,” would you accept it as full payment?
You wouldn’t, whether they were drunk, high, crazy, or in a plain state of denial.
People must remember that they are responsible for themselves and all of their actions, no matter how minor or brutal the consequences may be.
Rape is rape, no matter who you are or how it happened, and if we’re going to move past the ashes of the past, we need to take a collective stand against it and stop entertaining the idea that anyone can justify an action of rape for any reason, from the real world down into the courtroom.
Not just as college students, but as future leaders and contributing citizens of the United States.
End of discussion.