Opinion: Action needed on rape culture

By: BRIANNE SMITH

The University of Ottawa has come under the microscope lately with two publicized allegations regarding violence against women.

By: BRIANNE SMITH

The University of Ottawa has come under the microscope lately with two publicized allegations regarding violence against women.

The first incident was alleged to have happened during the Feb. 1 weekend when members of the hockey team were supposedly involved in “serious incident” related to a sexual assault investigation, resulting in the team’s suspension.

The team was in Thunder Bay to play two scheduled Ontario University Athletics (OUA) games against the Lakehead Thunderwolves.

“In evaluating our campus environment, we have to ask, how will we send the message, that all forms of sexualized violence are unacceptable and profoundly repugnant to our core values and beliefs as a university community?” Allan Rock, President of Ottawa University said in a statement.

The subsequent incident, which occurred during mid February, involved a sexually explicit Facebook conversation between various male student union members about their female student federation president, Anne-Marie Roy.

Pictures of the private conversation between the men were later sent to Roy, who was deeply disturbed and took immediate action towards the situation.

“The fact that the five men could so casually discuss and joke about me and the position students have elected me to hold in such sexually violent ways points to how normalized rape culture, misogyny, and sexism are on our campus and in our society,” Roy said in a statement.

Rape culture is defined as “a complex set of beliefs that encourage male sexual aggression and supports violence against women. It is a society where violence is seen as sexy, and sexuality is violence.”

These two Ottawa University incidents shadow those of other universities from earlier in the school year. Saint Mary’s University in Halifax and the University of British Columbia faced serious accusations in September regarding school chants that glamorized sexual violence against women. Both incidents were dealt with accordingly and promptly, but not before leaving a negative mark on many students at the school as well as the surrounding communities.

It seems that rape culture is becoming somewhat glorified throughout university atmospheres in Canada. I find these instances alarming and shameful. As a young woman in my first year of university, you feel quite vulnerable hearing of such violence going on in atmospheres that are supposed to protect you from these things.

“As we move closer to gender equality you would think that rape culture would be declining, but it seems as though it’s on the rise, which is concerning,” said Rachael McCulloch, a first year journalism and global politics student at Carleton.

I can only hope that these specific events have been able to have a significant impact on the way our generation treats one another.

Just as Allan Rock stated previously, “as a community we must be determined to make the changes that are needed to establish a culture of respect, a culture that rejects violence…”

It is important to be able to grow and develop in an environment you feel safe and accepted in. We must eliminate rape culture before we can learn to move forward together.

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