This week’s roundup includes new PSAs against domestic violence, the disturbing results of a survey on sexual assault, and UVA’s new rules for fraternities and sororities.
If you’re a football fan there’s a good chance you’ve seen PSAs from the public awareness campaign No More. No More aims to raise awareness about and work against sexual violence, including both domestic violence and sexual assault. Now the campaign is reaching one of America’s biggest audiences with PSAs featuring NFL players, run during NFL games. The partnership arose out of the NFLs attempts to rehabilitate their image in the wake of the Ray Rice scandal, an incident that called the league’s commitment to working against sexual violence into serious question. While most of the spots feature players reiterating the message of “no more,” as in “No more ‘we don’t talk about that’,” or “No more ‘boys will be boys’,” many feel that the most powerful of the No More PSAs is the “Speechless” series, unplanned pieces filmed as players prepared, and sometimes struggled, to talk about sexual violence.
The alarming answer to that question is yes, according to a recently published survey. When asked if they would have “intentions to force a woman to sexual intercourse” if “nobody would ever know and there wouldn’t be any consequences,” 32 percent of the study’s participants answered yes. When asked if they would have “any intentions to rape a woman” that number dropped to 13.6%, a result with the disturbing implication that many men do not consider “forcing a woman to sexual intercourse” to be a definition of rape. Perhaps unsurprisingly, willingness to commit rape, no matter how the crime was described, correlated with hostile attitudes towards woman and viewpoints that, according to the study, “objectify women and expect men to exhibit sexual dominance.”
In the wake of the now-discredited Rolling Stone article that alleged a brutal gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity, UVA has rolled out new rules for their Greek organizations aimed at curbing the threat of sexual assault. In an agreement fraternities and sororities must sign before resuming activities, the school lays out strict rules for drinking at Greek events. These rules include the requirement that beer must be served in closed containers and that hard alcohol can only be served if the organization hires a bartender. While some people have applauded the new focus on safety and preventing sexual assault, others argue that reducing drinking is the wrong approach. These critics argue that putting the focus on college drinking amounts to blaming victims of assault for the violence perpetuated against them. Others question the efficacy of the new rules, pointing out that the legal drinking age of 21 is widely flouted on campus, and questioning whether the university will work to enforce the rules it is introducing. Two fraternities at UVA have already refused to sign the new agreement, arguing that it “may create new liability for individual members of our organizations that is more properly a duty to be borne by the university itself.”