Half Of Male College Athletes Have Coerced Partners Into Sex, Survey Shows, Proving Rape Culture Is Alive And Well

A recent study in the journal Violence Against Women shows a terrifying and saddening truth about how common it is for college men coerce women into sex: A survey of 379 men at a public Division 1 university found that over half of athletes who responded that they had pressured a partner into sex. According to The Cut, "participants in the survey responded to statements that met the legal definition of rape, like, 'I used threats to make my partner have oral or anal sex.'"

But it's not just athletes — 38 percent of the non-athlete participants admitted the same thing. Although the numbers show that something about the athletic arena appears to incubate these horrific attitudes and behaviors, lead author Belinda Rose-Young explains that "there's that constant reiteration of male superiority and athletes who are rewarded for being aggressive. That’s the reality. But we saw that that attitude is just a part of the general sporting environment." And it's just as important to see that these virulent attitudes persist everywhere.

Study author Dr. Sarah Desmarais told Medical Daily that "there is clearly a need for education of athletes but also public education more generally on what constitutes ‘rape’ to dispel these rape myths." This can be seen when, perhaps unsurprisingly, those who admitted coercing sex also agreed with statements that perpetuated rape myths and sexist attitudes. It's hard to stomach the idea that people actually believe it's not rape if a woman doesn't fight back, or it's her fault for being drunk or dressing a certain way; yet somehow, these attitudes still prevail.

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Many of the statements the participants were endorsing were pulled directly out of a survey that was over 40 years old, showing that people's perspectives haven't evolved much in that time. As Gabrielle Noone at The Cut writes, it shows "that despite the passing of 40 years, attitudes and education toward sexual consent are still antiquated." We need to come so much farther than we have.

Dr. Sarah Desmarais hopes that studies like this can focus the dialogue and lead to a change in how we view and handle sexual assault. She says:

I would hope that an athlete entering college would see this study as a reminder to act responsibly and to treat women with respect. Similarly, I would hope a young woman sees this as a reminder of the dangers that may exist on college campuses and elsewhere. As for the rest of us, I hope that the findings of this study can focus the national dialogue on prevention of sexual assault on college campuses through organized and systematic and evidence-based efforts rather than those resulting from reactions to high profile cases.

And it seriously can't happen soon enough.

Images: Pexels; Giphy