It has been interesting watching the situation unfold at Baylor over the last few days regarding sexual assault and the football team. What has been interesting is the response and finger pointing of the entire country.
I in no way condone what happened at Baylor. It was wrong. There is no excuse and it should have never happened. I am glad the university did an independent investigation to uncover all the dirty little secrets (how many universities have ever done this when allegations started?). I am glad they immediately acted on what was in the report. I am glad that Baylor now will probably have one of the best Title IX offices. As an alumni of Baylor I am heartbroken at what transpired.
But at the same time I am tired of people acting shocked, horrified, and finger pointing to one university. Everyone is acting like sexual assault is new. People are responding like they didn’t know women are disrespected. People are responding like they are unaware of the ways in which women are treated merely as sex objects. People are responding like they forgot that women don’t have the right to control their own bodies. And they are acting like sexual assault has never been covered up.
You see we are all responsible. We are responsible because we allow a culture of microaggressions daily towards women. You degrade women for the way in which they look? You don’t support equal pay for women? You follow a religion that asks women to submit to men? You support candidates who minimize rape? You look up to individuals who publicly and loudly oppress women by their negative comments? You laugh at jokes degrading women? You catcall at women? You post on message boards negatively about women? You are ok that women are left out of board rooms?
When we live in a society where you go to a Dallas Cowboy football game and watch women dance up on polls during the game in cage type structures, it is not a far jump to sexual assault. When we live in a society that routinely vilifies a woman who have been raped, we should not be surprised that sexual assault is often covered up. When ESPN message boards are full of horrific post about female reporters, they should not be surprised in their reporting about what is happening at Baylor.
We are all responsible for allowing a culture that treats women less than men. It is this culture that leads to a culture of sexual assault. So before you are so quick to point a finger at Baylor maybe you should ask yourself what ways are you encouraging a culture of sexual assault. We are all responsible. By merely judging and pointing a finger at one institution, we as a society are missing the bigger opportunity. By only thinking it is an isolated incident, we ignore what is happening beside us. When I was a counselor I worked with many women raped, assaulted, degraded. None of them were assaulted by a football player. They were assaulted by a neighbor, family member, or even a church member when they were at church.
I am having to take a big look inside myself to ask how do I perpetuate cycles of violence against women. I have to wonder what I can do to stop such horrific actions. And to take action it takes a lot more than pointing a finger and judging one university. That is the easy way out. The road that will lead to change requires us all to take action, action past mere words on social media. I promise sexual assault is not only happening within Baylor football… it is all around us and we continue to encourage a culture for it to grow.