University of Arizona professor Mary Koss has been researching rape since the 1980s, and her findings on acquaintance rape have changed the way we understand sexual assaults on college campuses.
In an NPR report this weekend on campus rape, Koss revealed two “‘OMG’ experiences” regarding her research on self-described sexual assault perpetrators. That research came out in 1987 from the only national survey of college men on the issue, according to NPR.
The most disturbing findings, Koss said, were that “7.7% of male students volunteered anonymously that they had engaged in or attempted forced sex” and that “Almost none considered it to be a crime.”
Here’s why so many male students don’t consider their actions to be sexual assault, according to Koss:
“They would say, ‘Yes, I held a woman down to have sex with her against her consent but that was definitely not rape,'” Koss says. Part of the reason that few of her respondents considered themselves sexual offenders, she said, is that they faced no negative consequences. No accusation. No shame. No punishment.
In short, student rapists often didn’t find any problem with their actions because they never faced consequences, either from their school or police. This is likely due to a combination of low rates of reporting from sexual assault victims and schools’ general lack of punishments for students found responsible for sexual assault.
In the NPR report, Koss also highlighted three “primary drivers” that push male students towards sexual offenses — “a culture of high alcohol consumption, peer pressure from other men to prove sexual prowess and men’s own attitudes favouring impersonal sex.”
Despite more awareness since the ’80s, college rape on campus is still a problem today.
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