Sexual assault not a ‘women’s’ issue

Sexual assault is fast becoming one of the biggest issues facing the NIU community. Rumors abound about rapes—in fraternity houses, in the dorms, out on the streets. There have been three rapes reported to the DeKalb Police this semester.

The NIU Sexual Assault Task Force has geared up for a massive education campaign. They are running ads in The Northern Star and offering forums, among other things. One of the Task Force’s goals is to reach the potential victims of sexual assault and teach them how to prevent becoming victims.

There is a second goal that never can be accomplished with the current all-female composition of the Task Force. This second goal is to reach the potential offenders—a majority of whom are male—and teach them it is not acceptable behavior to force or coerce sexual submission from women. That it is not “cool” to have as their claim to fame the fact that they once participated in a “friendly” gang rape.

ape is not a sexual issue, it’s a power issue. Men who rape, more often than not, are not seeking sexual gratification. They are seeking submission. They want to exert their physical strength and power over someone who cannot tell them no—and back it up with equal physical strength. It’s power they seek and, unfortunately, only power they can understand.

For this reason, it is ludicrous that the university administration has not seen fit to include men on the Sexual Assault Task Force. At least, if they’ve been included, they aren’t participating.

The men the Task Force is trying to reach are simply not going to listen to what women have to say. To them, women are potential victims—they are weak, they are unworthy of the respect due any human being. A man who will force a woman to have sexual contact with him is not the kind of man who will listen carefully to the reason of another woman’s argument and admit that she is right—and he is wrong.

If these men will listen to anybody—and certainly it is arguable that they will not—it is other men. That doesn’t mean the Sexual Assault Task Force should be composed entirely of men. Women are the most affected by rape—it is imperative their ideas and views be given the consideration they deserve.

But if administrators really are serious about combating sexual assault at NIU, they must recognize the importance of having men involved in the solution. They must stop treating this as a “women’s issue.” It is not a women’s issue. It is a human issue. At last check, men still were considered human.