Thursday, October 13, 2016

Let's Talk About Sexual Assault Baby

The 2016 presidential election is shaping up to be one of the ugliest campaigns in history.  On my commute this morning, all my favorite radio stations covered the latest attacks and zingers aimed at both candidates.  In fact, many news agencies are referring to this election as the "Scorched Earth" election based on the sheer levels of vitriol spewn at both candidates.  The  two campaigns are mired in the deep muckity muck, and clearly this won't end until the night of the election, at the earliest.  On one side you have Donald Trump, a candidate who has gone on the offensive after making his now-famous quip, where he heralds that because of his star power he can, "Grab [women] by the pussy."  On the other hand, you have Hillary Clinton, who as the wife of former President Bill Clinton, has had to deal with multiple accusations of sexual assault since he was governor of Arkansas.  Additionally, she has been criticized for her treatment of Bill's accusers.

In 2016, both campaigns have drawn their war lines.  Trump's campaign has made it clear that if more tapes or videos are released of him making crass statements about women, the personal attacks he shoots at Hillary will increase in severity.  Clinton's campaign is using surrogates (i.e., Michelle Obama) to slam her opponent and keep his treatment of women (according to them) on their minds for election day.   But going negative is always bad right?  Doesn't it hurt the campaigns and set our country back before the glaring eyes of the world?  Well....I'll answer that in a bit.

Of all the post debate polls pasted to the screen,  the ones I appreciate most are the ones measuring the public's reaction to negative comments made by candidates.  I don't believe I've ever seen a poll where viewers positively critiqued candidates that focus on negative attack ads.  There are even studies that measure the number of negative television and radio ads a candidate uses along with the public's response.  From what I've seen, the majority of the public doesn't like when candidates go negative.  So can we just conclude going negative is a bad thing for campaigns and move on?  Well, not so fast.  I think there's a silver lining in this election's negativity.
You see, this election cycle has been focusing on sexual assault and I think that's wonderful.  Usually, general elections bring to the forefront issues that are important to the country.  Standard issues are abortion, gun rights, race, gay rights, jobs, and national debt.  But this year, sexual assault has taken center stage and I think the country will be better because of it.

Sexual assault comes in numerous forms: rape, attempted rape, forced sexual acts, and fondling.  According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), every 109 seconds an American is sexually assaulted.  Every 8 minutes, that American is a child.  Disgustingly, only 6 out
of every 1,000 perpetrators go to jail.  This is why this issue needs attention.
Although incidents of sexual violence has fallen by half over the last twenty years, sexual assault is still occurring way to much, especially against women.   Based on statistics compiled by RAINN, over 17 million women have been a victim of sexual assault since 1998.  And that's just the reported cases.  Even more alarming, 82% percent of all juvenile sexual assaults occur to female victims and 90% of all adult rape victims are female.  In contrast, 1 out of every 10 rapes involve men as the victim.  Clearly, sexual assault should play a major role in the American discourse.

Recently, we've seen national stories headlining issues of sexual assault.  However, sometimes the stories reinforce male bad boy behavior.   You may remember the case involving Stanford student, Brock Turner, who famously received a 6-month sentence after raping an unconscious woman.  

Apparently, the judge didn't want to ruin Mr. Turner's life, you know with him being a star swimmer and all.  You may have also heard about 18 year old David Becker, an athlete in Massachusetts who sexually assaulted 2 women in a bed after a night of partying.  Even though prosecutors recommended 2 years in jail, the judge sentenced Mr. Becker to 2 years probation.  The judge reasoned that he didn't want to "impede" Mr. Becker from moving on to the next phase of his life.

Hopefully, these incidents of sexual assault will help catapult this issue into the nation's conscience, where it can be properly analyzed and resourced.  In the meantime, maybe we can educate our boys and teach them that silence never means yes and that an unconscious woman should never be touched.  We need to stop blaming victims and take all reports of sexual assault seriously, even if the accused is famous.  We need to have resources for our children so that they are not left alone to "experiment" on one another.   We need to ensure that older children who prey sexually on younger children immediately get the help they need to prevent future assaults. 

In short, we have a lot to do to curb sexual assault in this country.  However, the negativity of this year's campaigns is giving the proper attention to this issue.  It is my hope that more money comes from all the mud slinging and muck dwelling and we see incidents of sexual assault drop to levels unseen in the last 50 years.  Regardless, the more mud these campaigns sling at one another, the more the spotlight is shined on the issue of sexual assault.  In that sense, let the negativity continue. 

Your thoughts?  
blog comments powered by Disqus