Take “The Hunting Ground” Seriously

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Last week during the long advisery, all seniors began viewing or discussing “The Hunting Ground.”

“The Hunting Ground” is a documentary that disscusses and investigates sexual assault on highly regarded college campuses. While there are still two more extended adviseries dedicated to “The Hunting Ground,” I want to respond to criticisms I’ve heard so far and explain why we need to take it seriously.

First I want to get one thing out of the way: I am aware that these discussions aren’t pleasant or easy. I would be lying if I said I was excited last Friday, after two snow days, to start my morning off by talking about sexual assault. But the discomfort around the topic doesn’t make it less valuable or necessary to discuss. In fact, I would be concerned if there wasn’t any degree of discomfort during a conversation about sexual assault.

Next year, seniors will all embark on a new journey, and the majority of us will be going to college, where there is an elevated rate of sexual assault. According to RAINN, The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, 23.1% of females and 5.4% of males will experience sexual assault during their undergraduate years. Statistically speaking, one in every five women and one in every 20 men will be sexually assaulted during college.

While sexual assault can affect all people regardless of age, gender or ethnicity, it is more likely to occur during these four years than at any other period in one’s life. Discussing and breaking apart the current atmosphere on college campuses is the only way we can expect genuine change.
One major complaint I have heard from both guys and girls is that the documentary is depressing. For girls, I understand how difficult it might be to view.

Hearing the statistics can make the future appear bleak and out of our control. But it’s important to have an accurate understanding of the situation we are about to enter.

While I haven’t seen the documentary yet, if it is as somber as people are claiming, that is exactly the reason guys need to view it. Throughout high school, I’ve realized that the majority of guys are unaware of the female experience,
and I’ve been suprised that many guys don’t understand how scary the female experience can be.

There are things girls do instinctively to protect themselves, things that often never cross guys’ minds.

This is best summed up by a social experiment done by Dr. Jackson Katz. Katz, founder of Mentors in Violence Protection, one of the first gender violence organizations, conducted a social experiment where he divided men and women into two separate sides of the room. He asked the men what they do on a regular basis to keep themselves safe. After some awkward mumbling and a joke about staying out of prison, one guy finally admited that he doesn’t regularly think about ways to stay safe.

Katz then asked women what they do regularly to stay safe. Immediately, women began sharing their daily habits. While the answers varied from carrying their keys in their hands while walking to having a male voice on their answering machine, one thing was clear: women do something every single day to keep themselves safe.

That is why watching “The Hunting Ground” and participating in the discussions around it are important.

For guys to learn about the female experience, for everyone to learn that victim blaming is a part of rape culture, and for everyone to be able to identify signs of sexual assault– that’s why we need to watch this.

So please, although it will be difficult, take this seriously and try to learn; this is the main way we can all try to reduce and eliminate college sexual assault.

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