Walking into The Penn newsroom for Thursday night production, editors were greeted with the sounds of a disgruntled Supreme Court nominee yelling back at members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
On production nights, four women and six men circulate in and out of The Penn office. Many nights it is far past sundown when our team finally leaves the Hadley Union Building.
The men leave normally, not thinking anything of it. The women typically depart keys in hand.
What is the difference here?
Many girls are taught from a young age to constantly be aware of their surroundings and take precautions so they don’t find themselves in a bad situation.
Girls are taught to never walk alone at night. Always walk in groups.
Never leave your drink alone at a party.
Text your friends when you leave the house and then again when you reach your location.
Don’t show too much skin when you go out in public. It might attract unwanted male attention.
Don’t flirt back when a boy gives you attention at parties, bars, etc. if you don’t want to go home with him.
The list is endless.
We teach girls to constantly live in fear, and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.
On the one hand, women are much more conscious of what happens around them. These are all prevention efforts to keep something bad from happening.
On the other hand, it makes women feel helpless.
Women can do everything in their power to keep themselves safe and still end up getting assaulted. And very few women who come forward about their assault receive justice.
Out of every 1,000 rapes, 994 perpetrators will go free, and only 310 are actually reported to police, according to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network).
So few incidents are reported to police because so few incidents result in the abuser receiving punishment. Much of this has to do with the ineffectiveness of the way the American criminal justice system handles sexual assault allegations.
But the blame falls on society as well.
Women are taught to defend themselves, but men are not taught to not rape.
They are, but they aren’t taught about what all rape entails.
It is not just attacking someone in an alley, like you might see on “Law and Order: SVU.”
It is continuing through with sex with a one-night stand once they tell you they changed their mind and no longer want to have sex.
It is not letting the other party know that you are not using a condom.
It is having sex with someone who is too intoxicated to say no or stop you.
Double-checking with someone before continuing is something that should be standard.
So if women are taught prevention efforts to not get sexually assaulted, men should be taught prevention efforts to not sexually assault.
Very few reported rapes are false. It’s foolish to think that a woman or man would put themselves through public shame just to ruin the life of another. There is a stigma surrounding sexual assault that no person wants associated with his-or-herself.
Even knowing all this, the courageous women that claim Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted them came forward in front of not only a judge but the entire country.
And still it is proceeding the same way so many cases before them have.
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) at one point said he felt bad for Judge Kavanaugh and his family and everything through which they have been put so far.
These women have had to deal with this pain for years, but at least a successful white male’s emotions are protected in the public eye.
As a society, we must do better.