Thursday, May 30, 2024

PSUC community continuing consent conversation

In a perfect world, women would not need to fear that sex might be forced upon them; however, in reality that is not the case.

According to a recent study led by Sarah Edwards of the University of North Dakota and published in Violence and Gender, 31.7 percent of college men questioned admitted they would force sex upon a woman, while 13.6 percent admitted they would rape someone if there were no consequences.

The two divides are admitting the same thing: They would rape if they knew their actions wouldn’t be disciplined.

“It doesn’t surprise me at all,” said Rhema Lewis, Plattsburgh State health educator, outreach coordinator and confidential victims advocate.

The study also proved that men are more willing to admit they would rape someone if the act itself were described rather than being outright named.

“We all grow up learning what’s right and wrong,” PSUC Sociology Professor and Affirmative Action Officer Lynda Ames said. “Rape has a negative connotation, so men claim they would never do that.”

The survey also presented questions regarding the men’s levels of hostility toward women; their hyper masculinity, which includes viewing danger as exciting and regarding violence as manly; and their attraction to sexual aggression.

Men who were comfortable using the word “rape” also provided answers signaling higher hostility toward women and more heartless attitudes about sex.
These findings show that there may be different “kinds” of rapists, according to a New York Magazine article published last month.

Ames said that even though there may be different kinds of perpetrators, the consequences are the same for the victims.

She places perpetrators into two categories: sexual predators and men who will take the opportunity when it is presented to them if they think they can get away with it.

Predators tend to be men who have such hostile views of women that they go out with the intention of violating someone.

Understanding there are different “kinds” of rapists is crucial from a prevention standpoint. It is much harder to prevent someone with hostility toward women, a predator, from committing acts of sexual violence than it is to prevent the other group of men.

PSUC’s Health Education and Outreach Office offers an array of awareness campaigns, including those of sexual prevention.

“It is important that we raise awareness in the first place,” Lewis said. “There is a general lack of understanding to what consent means.”

The office’s “Got Consent?” campaign aims to improve awareness and increase knowledge of what exactly consent entails.

“Just because someone doesn’t say ‘No’ doesn’t mean that is consent,” Lewis said. “It is a sober, ongoing and verbal ‘Yes.’”

The Health Education and Outreach Office strives to educate the PSUC campus as much as possible through presentations in classes, Greek life programming and outreach via social media.

Last semester, the Step Up! campaign, a prosocial bystander intervention program, was implemented at PSUC.

The intent of the campaign is to give students the skills and the confidence to challenge sexual predators and help others.

The campaign also pertains to alcohol, hazing and other health-related issues.

“We teach students to step in when they see problematic behavior occurring,” Lewis said. “To notice when something is off so they can intervene.”

She said that early intervention is important in the event of sexual assault but things can be done to fix the underlying problem that is deeply rooted in our culture.

“We live in a patriarchal society,” she said. “Men are viewed as powerful and in control and they are taught to take advantage of that power.
“We need to instead teach people not to rape. Teach people to respect human beings.”

Aid is available to victims of sexual assault at PSUC through reporting, counseling, as well as prosecuting.

“There’s a space for survivors on this campus,” said Lewis. “As an advocate, it is my job to believe you and help in any way possible.”

Email Tawnee Bradham at

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