by Caleb Schrock-Hurst – Horizon Guest Writer
Last year, after attending a forum where the campus heard some very personal testimony shared about pornography, I was shocked to hear snickers to outright laughs fill the chapel as we left. Later that night, several guys in my mod expressed that they think it’s ridiculous to avoid pornography or to not comment on girls’ bodies. This was disconcerting, but more disconcerting is that fact that this was not an isolated event.
This year, just two days after the September Title IX forum, I happened to hear a lewd conversation between a couple guys about some girls on campus. What bothered me most about the guys outlandish comments was the fact that they didn’t even know the names of the girls they were talking about. I was disappointed and disgusted by my peers.
Clearly, the forum hadn’t impacted their thought process at all. I wish it had, but it did help remind me of something: A law does not change mindsets. People must change their own minds, and that is what needs to happen. Currently, the norm is for girls to be objectified, disrespected, and sexualized. Title IX cannot and will not fix this.
It is time to admit our failure.
We have a problem here on campus, in the state of Kansas, and across the US: the over-sexualization of women and the lack of punishment for men who contribute to the problem. Our school does all it can to prevent sexual harassment and assault, but an establishment can only do so much. The real problem lies among the students who laugh when they are told they should not comment on girls bodies, and that is where the problem must also be fixed.
Any research at all into statistics of sexual assault on college campuses reveals some pretty damning stuff, with some studies saying that more than one if four women will be sexually assaulted before they finish college. I think everyone agrees this number should be zero.
So why does this happen? The simple yet deadly complex answer is that our culture is incredibly hypersexualized, and men and women face impossible pressures to fit the culture’s narrow ideals. Men should be over 6’1, buff but under 200 pounds, and have scantily clad girls hanging off both arms at all times. Women should be submissive, dress provocatively, and willing to do anything to please their man.
These standards are logically impossible to fulfill and go way beyond simple physical standards, demanding drastic actions as well. They makes guys desire to “have” girls with little regard to their feelings and dull men’s sense of empathy. Lies by the culture and the idolization of sex have made sexual assault and harassment a constant problem across our nation and the modern world.
Men, despite the culture doing us no favors, we are at fault. No girl deserves to feel uncomfortable in her own skin, and we are the ones making it an issue. I, as a young male raging with testosterone, of course understand the unending temptation that is pornography and modern fashion, but these temptations do not make acting on them right. Men, it’s time to own up to our problems and try to fix them. We cannot ascribe to the idea that pornography and rape culture are normal, nor to the idea the ‘boys will be boys.’
Girls, you can also play a role in preventing the ‘boys will be boys’ mentality from becoming dominant. Realize what you are doing when you remain complacent. Silence when guys comment on you can reinforce clearly off-base behavior. I would encourage you, if you feel comfortable doing so, to confront the guys who stare and to make them think about their actions whenever you can. The broader culture says it is ok for guys to comment on you and hit on you outlandishly, but you can help shift this perception by demanding better from your male peers. Help men fight the pressure culture puts on them and make a better and safer world in the process.
Leaving that, guys, get your act together. Realize what YOU are doing. Think about what the music you listen to and the movies you watch say about girls. Is that how you want your sister or friends to be thought of or treated like? No way. If the morals in most pop and rap songs were actually embraced, think of how quickly our society would collapse. We can, and should be, above wanting only sex out of a woman.
Despite many obstacles to change, we are in a unique and alterable place as a school. We have a tight nit community, a faith-based charter, and an engaged faculty. We can make a difference during our time here and build a safe place and a group of people conscious of the pressures of the culture.
Think about what the school would look like if we actually dealt with the poor treatment of women on campus. It would be a place that women would feel more comfortable and a place where guys thought through their actions and valued women for their minds, it could become a better place where discussion and learning would lead to real, deep relationships instead of brief frivolous ones. It would be a place to train men to respect women.
Go make it happen. Guys, call out your friends when they make sexual comments and make them think, and think yourself. Challenge yourself to respect all people as people. Girls, express your discomfort and make use of the resources available when you need them.
We can make a difference. And this is an issue that must not be ignored.
Caleb Schrock-Hurst is a Sophomore at Hesston College where he works as a Writing Assistant, Ministry Assistant, and Horizon contributor. He would like to study everything, but when forced to choose selected English, History, and Music. Outside of academics his main interests are tennis, Bernie Sanders’ political campaign, the global church, and Arsenal Football Club. Feel free to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on campus if you wish to exchange verbal or physical blows. (Editor’s note: Caleb Schrock-Hurst’s opinions are not necessarily those of the Horizon staff or Hesston College.)