A study out of the University of North Dakota resulted in two staggering conclusions—college-aged men do not truly understand the definition of rape and one out of three college-aged men surveyed said they would rape a woman, as long as they wouldn’t get caught.
“The No. 1 point is there are people that will say they would force a woman to have sex but would deny they would rape a woman,” said Sarah R. Edwards, the lead researcher for the study, to Newsweek.
The University of North Dakota study consisted of 73 men in college. 31.7 percent of these men answered affirmatively when asked whether they would follow through on “intentions to force a woman to sexual intercourse.” The number of men who answered affirmatively descended significantly, to 13.6 percent, when the word rape was introduced into the question.
“In this sense, using force to obtain intercourse does not become an act of rape, but rather an expression of hyper-masculinity,” writes the study, “which may be thought of as a desirable disposition in certain subcultures.”
As the conversation around campus sexual assault moves forward, defining the act of sexual assault, as well as the consequences that come attached to such an act, are incredibly important.
The authors of the study suggest that universities implement education programs that focus on defining consent and encouraging healthy relationships, “in order to reach the population of men who don’t currently associate forcible sex with rape,” reports ThinkProgress. “Simply pushing an anti-rape message won’t necessarily reach those men, they point out, because they don’t think of themselves as rapists.”
The idea to expand the anti-rape message is incredibly important especially within universities that choose to limit the use of the word “rape,” and as a result, may fail to properly define it.
“Rape is a legal, criminal term. We’re trying to continue to share we’re not court, we don’t want to be court—we want to provide an administrative, educative process,” said Laura Bennett, acting Association for Student Conduct Administration president, to the Huffington Post.
The researchers of this study have found a correlation between the men who said they would rape a woman and the rape culture around them.
They found that these men displayed “callous sexual attitudes,” defined as “a set of cultural stereotypes about women as objects and men as aggressors that feeds into hyper-masculinity,” as summed up by ThinkProgress.
Taking charge of the narrative behind campus sexual assault and choosing to continuously promote it to include all individuals is a necessary step.
“I think it’s really only in that first introduction to the University, at orientation, when we’ll hear about [sexual assault]. Unless they know someone who has been sexually assaulted on campus…It’s not something that’s discussed often, unless it’s at psych classes,” Ian Jackson, an openly LGBT student at Quinnipiac University, told Generation Progress.
Implementing an infrastructure that upholds just punishments in this process is also essential, as it has been proven that many who are found guilty of sexually assaulting an individual are either given lenient punishments, or are expelled only to be allowed back on campus shortly after.