Sarah Everard – The MC SUN – MCHS https://mcsun.org Making the SUN shine, online! Wed, 12 May 2021 15:43:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.7.2 98876632 Victim-Blaming and the Propulsion of Rape Culture https://mcsun.org/opinions/2021/victim-blaming-and-the-propulsion-of-rape-culture/ https://mcsun.org/opinions/2021/victim-blaming-and-the-propulsion-of-rape-culture/#respond Wed, 12 May 2021 15:43:21 +0000 https://mcsun.org/?p=19642 Trigger warning: the following article contains descriptions of sexual assault. On March 3, 33-year-old marketing executive Sarah Everard was walking home from a friend’s place in London. Following a normal set of safety precautions,  she called her boyfriend and routed the walk through well-lit streets. Instead of returning home, however, Everard was found dead in …

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Trigger warning: the following article contains descriptions of sexual assault.

On March 3, 33-year-old marketing executive Sarah Everard was walking home from a friend’s place in London. Following a normal set of safety precautions,  she called her boyfriend and routed the walk through well-lit streets. Instead of returning home, however, Everard was found dead in the woods a week later. One suspect has been charged with her kidnapping and murder – Wayne Couzens, an elite officer of the London Metropolitan Police. 

Sarah Everard | Photo Courtesy of CONAN Daily

After Everard’s death, vigils and protests erupted across the UK. The movements aimed to promote conversations about women’s safety, personal experiences of harassment, and the consequences of unwanted male behavior. 

“That does lead to question, even if she was drunk, even if it was later at night, this wasn’t her fault,” Jasmine Klinger, organizer for activist group Reclaim These Streets, said in response to Everard’s death. “It’s not our fault, but constantly the onus is put on us to protect ourselves.”

According to an American CDC survey from 2015, 1 in 5 women face attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. In comparison, 1 in 14 men are victims of completed or attempted rape during their lifetime, which indicates a clear discrepancy in regards to rape between different genders. 

Three weeks after Everard’s murder, the Minnesota Supreme Court added fire to the ongoing flame with a controversial ruling centered on  sexual assault. Francois Monulu Khalil initially faced a felony rape conviction after allegedly assaulting an anonymous woman while she was drunk. However, the court unanimously ruled that Khalil could not be found guilty according to Minnesota law, as mental incapacitation occurs when a victim ingests intoxicating substances without consent. Therefore, since Khalil’s victim voluntarily drank undrugged drinks, state law claims that she was not mentally incapacitated – consequently, his conviction was overturned. According to The Washington Post, a wide multitude of other states also fail to categorize voluntary intoxication as mental incapacitation. 

According to court documents, the victim claims that Khalil met her outside of a bar while she was heavily intoxicated. He invited the woman and her friend to a party, which he offered to drive them to – instead, however, he took them both to a private home. After the woman passed out on a couch, she woke up to feel Khalil assaulting her. She demanded that he stop, but he refused to do so and she proceeded to pass out again. The following day, she underwent a rape kit exam and later reported the incident to Minneapolis police. Police interviewed Khalil, who stated that he had no recollection of the woman and never engaged in sexual activities with her. 

Minnesota Judicial Center | Photo Courtesy of NBC News

Without a doubt, if the victim’s accusation holds true, Minnesota’s treatment of sexual assault issues proves insufficient and unacceptable. Considering that – based on her account of the story – the victim was powerless and unable to provide consent while engaging in sexual activity, she was raped. Instead of delivering justice, however, Minnesota law referred to the age-old practice of victim-blaming. 

As implied by the title, the practice of victim-blaming places responsibility on a victim for being sexually assaulted rather than holding an assailant accountable for committing the crime. Examples of victim-blaming include unjustly indicting behavior, such as accusing an individual of being raped due to their clothing choices.

Rape culture, or the societal act of normalizing sexual assault, relies on victim-blaming as an enormous propellent. Therefore, when a society’s authoritative institutions defer to victim-blaming ideals, they promote rape culture. As seen with the Minnesota ruling, the state’s law blames victims for engaging in drinking rather than the perpetrator for behaving in a violating manner. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, comprehensive surveys and interviews found that nearly 50% of sexual assault victims were drinking when assaulted. Therefore, Minnesota law places a concerning amount of citizens in danger of injustice due to its lack of penalties for assailants. 

When examining abominable instances of rape culture, individuals must understand their own role in reforming society’s outlook. As progressive as the modern world appears, its oppressive and detrimental flaws continue to prevail. From the rape jokes of Reddit incels to the behavioral expectations of gender roles, different elements work to preserve the culture which overturned Khalil’s conviction. The ludicrous idea that oversensitive ‘snowflakes’ are solely affected by certain behaviors – such as, once again, rape jokes – also establishes rape culture in an ignorant manner. When individuals choose to understand the consequences of this disastrous culture, however, society grows in a manner which displays a genuine sense of advancement. 

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#NotAllMenButAllWomen: The Powerful Movement that Shouldn’t be Necessary https://mcsun.org/opinions/2021/notallmenbutallwomen-the-powerful-movement-that-shouldnt-be-necessary/ https://mcsun.org/opinions/2021/notallmenbutallwomen-the-powerful-movement-that-shouldnt-be-necessary/#respond Mon, 03 May 2021 21:17:01 +0000 https://mcsun.org/?p=19583 Warning: contains information regarding sexual assault that may be triggering to some individuals From keeping an eye on their drink to holding a key between their fingers as they walk to their car, women around the world have been raised to harbor constant situational awareness and adopt a cautious approach to daily tasks.  These measures …

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Warning: contains information regarding sexual assault that may be triggering to some individuals

From keeping an eye on their drink to holding a key between their fingers as they walk to their car, women around the world have been raised to harbor constant situational awareness and adopt a cautious approach to daily tasks.  These measures are taught in an attempt to keep them safe, yet, according to UN Women UK, 97 percent of women ages 18-24 have experienced sexual harassment in their lifetime. Additionally, according to the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs (WCSAP), an American woman is sexually assaulted every two minutes. These appalling statistics are a testament to the widespread issue of sexual harassment and violence towards women and exemplify why preventative measures must be taken. 

The overwhelming gender gap in sexual violation has been largely problematic for decades, but a recent movement — sparked by a fatal incident of gender driven violence in the UK — has encouraged a greater awareness towards the subject. 

On March 3, 33-year-old Sarah Everard was walking to her home in Brixton, London, UK when a Metropolitan Police Officer abducted and murdered her. Six days after her disappearance, Everard’s remains were discovered in a woodland near Ashford, Kent and Officer Wayne Couzens was taken into custody.

Mourners Attacked by Police at London Vigil | Photo Courtesy of The Guardian

The day after Everard’s body was discovered, many London citizens attended a vigil to honor her memory. Hundreds of community members mourned the 33-year-old before being torn away by London police officers attempting to keep COVID-19 safety measures afloat. London citizens were distraught by the way police officers disrupted the ceremony and forcefully scattered the mourners amid a peaceful honorary event. The next day, thousands of community members marched into Parliament Square to peacefully protest the brutalities of the night prior, connecting it to the brutality of Everard’s murder.

As a result of the horrific attack against Everard, UK police officers recommended that women refrain from going out at night. This suggestion led to extreme backlash as female rights supporters around the world argued that women are not the problem and should not be punished for a man’s supposed lack of self control.

In response, Baroness Jenny Jones of Moulsecoomb, a British politician, casually proposed a 6 p.m. curfew for all men. Many  then began using the hashtag “not all men” on social media as a tool for voicing frustrations over male stereotypes. The faces behind the hashtag hold the viewpoint that although some men are rapists, sexual harassers, kidnappers, or murderers, others are respectful and appropriate individuals who should not be punished for the actions of “few.”

Photo Courtesy of Love by Life

As this hashtag gained popularity, feminists further explained their point of view about how this trend was adding to the problem. Female rights activists around the world made it clear that they know not all men take advantage of women, but enough of them do to the point that while walking alone at night, it is hard to distinguish between a regular pedestrian and a man with wrongful intentions. Many social media influencers have compared the situation to a dangerous animal encounter: although the chances of getting attacked by a shark are about one in 11.5 million, the consequence of an attack  make this statistic unlikely to prevent a swimmer from fearing for their life if they come in close contact with the predator. Similarly, although only about 6.5 percent of men are rapists, many individuals, primarily women, are scared to cross paths with any male. 

Photo Courtesy of Twitter

As a result of the #NotAllMen movement, feminists on social media began the #NotAllMenButAllWomen campaign. The hashtag represents an extension of the “Me Too” movement, claiming that while not all men are predators, all women have experienced some form of sexual harassment in their lifetime. Around the globe, females have shared their traumatic stories and situational frustration through social media and support groups.

“So many young girls are given a talk about how to stay “safe” when outside, but where is the same talk for men? Why don’t men get a talk about how to do the bare minimum and just be […] respectful! #notallmenbutallwomen #RIPSarahEverard,” @1D_Tleaf778 said on Twitter.

“It might not be all men, but it is all women. Every single woman can tell you of a time they have felt uneasy, they have held their bag a little closer, have gripped their keys a little bit tighter and have felt that racing heart. #notallmenbutallwomen. I just want to walk home,” @philippalouisex tweeted.

Some individuals in support of the #NotAllMenButAllWomen movement have posted videos online explaining different methods to defend oneself, such as avoiding eye contact or keeping a portable weapon on hand. While this is a helpful suggestion, it should not be necessary. Women should not have to learn new, creative forms of self defense to go about their regular lives; instead, predatory men should practice managing their emotions in a way that does not endanger another individual. 

Many males have also joined the fight for gender equality by posting unique ways to avoid a possibly life threatening encounter. Again, while this is currently useful information, utilizing these tactics should not be necessary for a woman’s present or future survival. Women should not be forced to change their ways in response to a man’s inappropriate act of violence or harassment. As a first step to fix these horrid circumstances which millions of women are forced to deal with, the male population as a whole —even the self-proclaimed “nice guys”— must be educated on the right ways to treat fellow human beings. 

Feminists protest the mistreatment of Everard and the abrupt end to her peaceful memorial | Photo Courtesy of CGTN

The #NotAllMenButAllWomen campaign aims to exemplify  the commonality of females being placed in unwelcome situations. Supporters of the movement are focused on bringing awareness to the situation and change to the world, not chastising every man for the inappropriate work of a few. They acknowledge that not all men are to blame and that many have had similar experiences of sexual violence. While numerous men are also victims of sexual assault, men are still the primary suspect. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, an estimated 91 percent of rape and sexual assault victims are female and 99 percent of the offenders are male. While only 9 percent of the victims are men, they still face similar pressure primarily from those of the same sex. According to a 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 93 percent of male victims reported that their abuser was a man. 

This movement has helped bring awareness to this horrifying and constant issue while also encouraging victims of sexual assault to reveal their trauma, bringing the abused closer to one another and stronger as a whole. While this campaign is a strong stepping stone towards feminine respect and equality, the fight is far from over. Women continue to be harassed solely on the basis of gender and abusive individuals are constantly let off the hook for their mistreatment of others. In order to change the state of affairs and allow justice to prevail, supporters must continue to bring awareness, everyone must be further educated on the rules of consent and appropriate behavior, and national governments must play a greater role in  the situation and put their efforts towards creating a safer and more equal society.

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