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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Megan Poe
Opinion Editor

My name is Megan Poe and I’m an English (writing concentration) and Philosophy double major at Northern. My concurrent experience with being published in and interning for literary magazines has landed...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Opinion — Its okay to outgrow your college friends
Opinion — It's okay to outgrow your college friends
Megan PoeApril 12, 2024

Respect is a given, so look without touching

What may have once been a concealed shame for many women around the world is becoming an increasingly prevalent topic in most conversations about gender equality in the 21st century.

For some, the denial of a so-called rape culture in American society cannot be heeded, but for others with a somewhat more harsh perspective, it gives rise to the question of whether a woman deserves to be felt up because of what she is wearing at a particular time or place.

For example, some will argue that if a woman wears kinky or seductive clothing to a bar or a party then it means she’s promiscuous, and she’s giving off the signal that she “wants it.” The fact that people even have to consider something like this and attempt to make a moral argument for this kind of behavior makes our society look rotten. When it comes to the concept of equal rights for women, this is something that makes me uneasy because there shouldn’t be a moral question about it.

Equality is something America has always had problems with however, from civil rights to the extension of marriage rights to the LGBT community. A woman should never be subjected to being touched in any manner without her consent, no matter how drunk she might look or how scantily clad she is. It’s downright wrong when someone feels the need to ask whether a victim of sexual assault “asked for it.”

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On an episode of the show “It’s Not You, It’s Men” that aired on Saturday, Feb. 20, African American model and women’s rights advocate Amber Rose said, “If I want to wear a short skirt or a tank top, and I’m at the club and I’m having fun with my friends and I feel sexy… I didn’t come here to have sex. I didn’t come here to hook up with anybody. I came out here with my girls, and I just feel pretty. I’m not ‘asking for’ anything.”

The major problem is that people will try to justify the irrationality of a woman being victimized  by sexual assault or rape with some sort of masculine superiority, saying things like “she dresses like a slut so she deserved it,” or more commonly, “a woman should dress how she wants to be addressed.”

People who utter such nonsense have most likely never been a victim of sexual assault themselves, so it goes deeply beyond insensitivity to suggest that anyone deserves to be raped no matter who they are. Also, how does what someone wears determine the level of respect they deserve? It makes no sense.

“If I’m laying down with a man, and I say, ‘you know what, no, I don’t want to do this. I changed my mind,’ that means no. That’s it. It doesn’t matter how far I take it or what I have on. When I say no, it means no,” Rose added on the show.

Though it may hold true of legal definition that there has to be forceful penetration in order for a rape to occur, it can happen in any form of unwanted advancement.

Legally speaking, anything short of penetration is only considered misconduct, but it shouldn’t matter when it’s all still in the same category. Rape should and can be considered as any act of sexual advancement that is unwanted and unreciprocated, such as inappropriately touching someone or the unwarranted exposure of genitalia. Therefore, this concept can take on many forms of intensity based on the situation and the people involved. While everything is not considered “rape” in the eyes of the court, it doesn’t mean that anything short of penetration should be considered less serious than what the actual definition is. In 2014, a study from the U.S. Department of Justice concluded that only 20 percent of sexual assaults on a college campus actually get reported to the proper authorities. This low percentage of reported sexual incidents can possibly be attributed to what is known as “slut-shaming.” Many victims don’t feel comfortable sharing their story with others because they might be ashamed, or it may be too traumatizing for them to recount the ordeal in front of an audience. A lot of people may not even report a sexual assault because they feel like their situation isn’t significant enough or like they’re unimportant and no one will care.

While this is indeed an alarmingly high percentage for college campuses, consider how much higher these percentages are in actual situations like social events and nightclubs. The number would probably scare you, but it would also provide a more accurate depiction of the sexual culture and uncomfortable sexual encounters many face in our society. Rose made a valid point in her aforesaid comments on TV, and despite many outreach programs to victims of sexual assault nationwide, it is still a problem. Many people, not just men, should acknowledge this and should do everything we can personally to not make anyone feel uncomfortable in any sexual situation. The next time you’re out partying, try to be aware of who you’re making advances on and how you’re making them feel because not everyone is there trying to hook up.

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