Oregon Basketball Rape Case Illuminates Sexual Assault and Sexism Towards Women in Society

Ethan Miller

The rape case has brought issues of sexual assault and misogyny towards women in society, sports, and colleges to the forefront. If there is an upside to the pain of the survivor it is that we can better educate ourselves to make a better future.

By now it is hard to not have heard about the incident involving three Oregon basketball players allegedly raping another student.  (If you want to read the details that I guarantee will make you uncomfortable, the 24-page police report has been made available to the public.)  The harsh reality of this situation is that incidents like this happen more often than people realize or would like to even think.  Every two minutes an American is sexually assaulted and 60% of these assaults are not reported. The main reason that this case is getting as much publicity is because the three players involved were of high status in the Oregon community.  Events like the one described in the police report aren't reported often enough and are even further harder to prove and bring justice to.  If there is a positive to come from this scenario it is that we can bring a spotlight to the issue of rape culture, specifically in how it is applied to college campuses and the sports world as a whole.  Through education the gender issues and misogynist aspects of our culture can hopefully be removed over time.

Above all, through any inconsistencies in stories and heat and blame that is getting thrown around, I do really sympathize with the survivor of this assault.  I feel terrible that something like this happened to someone else and I really hope that she is getting the support from her family, friends, and any other support necessary to get through such a traumatic experience.  It is important to keep in mind that there are many women like this particular survivor, even at the University of Oregon.

When it comes to protecting individuals from sexual assault Oregon does not meet the standards that should be required.  Oregon has been deemed "rape tolerant" by two researchers who have spent their careers studying sexual assault on campuses.  Professor Jennifer Freyd, a psychology professor at Oregon, agrees that more needs to be done to stop sexual assault on campus and has appeared on ESPN's Outside the Lines to discuss the most recent incident.

Denial, ignorance, or even encouragement of sexual harassment, and specifically, the objectification of women as sex objects, has been institutionalized and permissible in colleges, sports, and society.  According to the The New York Times the federal government identified 55 colleges whose handling of sexual assault cases were so poor that they may be in violation of Title IX.

In sports specifically, the machismo/testosterone involved clashes with feminism because of opposing ideals.  Men who perform at a very high level in sports are considered to be some of the most masculine, and thus, stereotypically, are seen as dominant and superior to all women. After missed field goals two years ago I heard both men and women in the student section say, "That kicker isn't getting any tonight."  Or after a big play someone will say, "He's getting so much p**** tonight."  James Franklin at Vanderbilt would judge coaching candidates by how hot their wives were.  Male sports stars are assumed to be alpha males in society. Women, especially in sports settings, are typically viewed as prizes and objects.

Furthermore, there are specific instances where male athletes received, or possibly received, special treatment in sexual assault cases.  A Michigan kicker wasn't expelled for sexual assault until four years after the incident took place.  In that time he played football and was a part of many won games for the Wolverines.  The entire Colorado football team was called into question for allegedly raping their female kicker, Katie Hnida.  Jameis Winston of Florida State had his sexual assault case completely botched by the Tallahassee Police Department.  The Police Department has since received a lot of criticism for discouraging the reporting of crime.

The Oregon rape case is an example of sexism at its worst.  It is very difficult for me as a [Spoiler Alert] white male to put myself in the shoes of a woman.  It is absolutely ridiculous on principle and face value that women have to be concerned with getting too drunk or behaving a certain way or else deal with sexual assault.  Those types of concerns are simply things I've never had to worry about when going to Taylor's, Max's, Rennie's, Webfoot, or any college party.  It is an absurdity to me that this is a part of life for over half of the Oregon student population.

It is especially important in these situations to not blame the victim.  Just because someone got too drunk or didn't say "no" and put up a fight doesn't mean that they deserve blame for being sexually assaulted.  If anything, intoxication should be a red flag to anyone and the lack of a "no" does not mean "yes."  I don't want to go back to this specific case too much but it has got to be awful seeing the story of what is most likely the worst part of her life being discussed everywhere and on national news, and that is after going through interviews with the police.

The survivor has shown an incredible amount of bravery despite past historical examples of how hard it is to file a report on sexual assault, especially when the alleged perpetrators are well known.  Unfortunately, backlash has already occurred through a radio show that aired featuring a witness to the crime who disputed facts and essentially slut-shamed from an ivory tower made of straw.  How sober/drunk a woman is, however much she may or may not have flirted, whoever she went anywhere with, in no way provides or implies consent to sex, let alone the type of sex present in the incident.

I don't view the lack of a charge in this incident as an isolated failure.  I view the lack of a charge as a failure of the system and of society at large.  Clearly, laws need to be put in place to eliminate the gray area that is being gamed by members of society in a harmful way.  People need to stop accepting or tolerating the current system as it pertains to people's respect, or lack thereof, of women.

Rick Ross had a line in a rap song that goes, "Put molly all in her champagne / She didn't even know it / We went home and I enjoyed that / She didn't even know it."  Luckily there were some consequences to the line as Reebok cut ties with Rick Ross.  A close reading of Robin Thicke's song "Blurred Lines" really calls into question just how accepted these gray areas are accepted in society.  Especially in college, where alcohol is used in excess and people are experiencing real freedom for the first time, the gray areas don't leave much room for error before someone ends up with a traumatic experience or making a huge mistake.

This isn't a problem that only concerns women.  This concerns every single one of us in society.  We are all people, and when I read stuff like this, I really wonder how people can be so mean to others.  I wish this problem could be solved by simply telling everyone to be nice to each other.  But if we as a society don't take the stand now then the societal norms and behaviors will be passed down to the next generation and this will only beget more of the same.   If both men and women are better educated, then the survivors and perpetrators, whether the survivors are men or women, will decrease.

I really think Tupac had one of the best quotes on this subject.  I'm being very serious, this isn't a pop culture reference for pop culture's sake.  While his song "Keep Ya Head Up" is about the struggle of single mothers who are left by the fathers of their children, I believe that the lyrics apply to any situation where women are disrespected by society at large.

And since we all came from a woman

Got our name from a woman

And our game from a woman

I wonder why we take from our women

Why we rape our women

Do we hate our women?

I think it's time to kill for our women

Time to heal our women

Be real to our women

Georgetown sociology professor Michael Eric Dyson goes so far as to call the sexism "femiphobia" meaning the hatred and fear of women.  I think it is unacceptable with how our society handles violence towards women.  The feelings are only amplified on college campuses and in the sports arena.  If there is a bright spot or positive to take from this ordeal it is that people can see the problem and become educated enough to fix the problem.  Simply knowing the problem and causes won't change it, but it's the first step en route to a society where these kinds of experiences don't happen.

I really feel for all the survivors of sexual assault and the one survivor in particular who brought this issue to the forefront.  I know it's not fair that the world is the way it is.  In the words of Tupac: I know you're fed up ladies, but keep your head up.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Addicted To Quack

You must be a member of Addicted To Quack to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Addicted To Quack. You should read them.

Join Addicted To Quack

You must be a member of Addicted To Quack to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Addicted To Quack. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9347_tracker