90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Sen. Claire McCaskill: “Women Need To Know When They Are Being Victimized”
Senate Armed Services Committee member Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., left, and Sen. Kelly Ayotte R-N.H., right, meet with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014. (AP)

Senate Armed Services Committee member Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., left, and Sen. Kelly Ayotte R-N.H., right, meet with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014. (AP)

The new White House report on college sexual assault makes some for deep and depressing reading. The statistics are grim: estimates say that nearly one in five women are victims of sexual assault during their time in the American higher education system.

The report aims to change that statistic, but it won’t be easy. Our April 30 broadcast took the time to talk to advocates, reporters and change agents deeply involved in the campaign to help prevent and end college sexual assault. The entire hour is more than worth a listen, but we also were impressed with U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), who has made sexual assault prevention and education a real highlight of this legislative session.

“I have college-aged daughters who have told me, unfortunately there is way too common an attitude that women who find themselves in a position where they have been a victim of a felony crime that they second-guess themselves,” McCaskill told us.

“We haven’t really put the systems in place that support victims and empower them so that we can hold these perpetrators accountable, and that’s really what’s missing with this silent epidemic on college campuses…

“We see more victims in their freshman year than we see in their subsequent years. And a lot of it is, these young women have to learn when they’re being victimized. You don’t have to have perfect judgement to be a victim of a crime. Just because you drank too much doesn’t give anyone the right to commit a felony against you.”

McCaskill said her aim is to focus on both victim support and enforcement of regulations that already exist.

“When someone has sex with someone that has not consented…that’s a felony. We need to give these young women and young men who are victimized more information and more support so that they can face a process that frankly has been daunting.”

The Senator has also been in the headlines for her work on reducing military sexual assault — which, while similar to college sexual assault, also brings up entirely new layers of complexity — and for her ongoing survey that asks colleges and universities to standardize their reporting process for sexual assaults.

“I’m convinced that we will not really turn this corner until we put some of these perpetrators in prison and send a message that this is criminal behavior,” McCaskill said. “That will, in fact, empower victims, that will allow victims to understand that they were victims of a crime. It’s not pleasant to think in those terms but that’s what has to happen.”

What do you think? How can we create systems that not only support the victims of college sexual assault, but prevent that assault from happening in the first place?

Let us know in the comments below, or on Facebook, Tumblr and @OnPointRadio.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Alchemical Reaction

    I find it utterly banal that women don’t band together and develop a self-defense strategy, if for no other reason than dignity, rather than letting men “defend” them…

    To me, it’s the height of chauvinism to view women as weak, or to think they aren’t strong enough to handle this themselves.

    There are numerous martial arts designed to leverage size and weight or strike vital areas.

    Not to mention when you say things like what the vice president said, you reinforce the image of women as “prey”.

    Comments like those the vice president made, make me physically sick to my stomach. And I voted for Obama.

    AND, the rate of men who are sexually assaulted is almost as high as the rate of assaults on women.

    The “social change” aspect of this issue is some kind of deviant power play in itself.

    And the final straw, the fact that peer pressure was never proven to be an effective tactic in social justice.

    Peer pressure side steps personal growth by substituting a proxy of group conformity.

    Deviants will “behave” when peers are around, but as soon as no peers are present, they will “act out” possibly in violent and explosive ways, out of resentment over the peer pressure they were subjected to.

    Peer pressure, as a tool in social justice, doesn’t work!

    • Mario Lanza

      Gosh. Well stated!

  • Alchemical Reaction

    Kids, if you want to have sex, have the presence of mind to make signing a contract a form of foreplay…

  • Alchemical Reaction

    As I said elsewhere on this forum, communication is one of the problems. sex hormones really DO affect neurochemistry, and therefore, the interpretation of a situation.

  • Coastghost

    As I asked late in the 2 May week-in-review forum: to what extent does this initiative obscure the plight of students in public and secondary schools, who are victims of sexual predation on a regular basis?
    Not only is the population of primary and secondary students larger than that of post-secondary students, but apparently a greater proportion (up to 10% of the roughly 55 million) have been victimized, not by peers but by adult “professionals”–teachers, coaches, band directors, administrators, et al.
    College coeds, as long as they are modestly sensible and maintain strict situational awareness, are not as prone to predation on or off a college campus as any minor being assaulted by an adult in a public school.
    Or would moving focus to primary and secondary schools risk showing that women themselves number among the most offensive sexual predators?

  • notafeminista

    Is Senator McCaskill implying that women are so stupid they need someone else to tell them when they’ve been “victimized”? So much for the sisterhood. Gawd.

    • Mario Lanza

      Yes. You have to be, in order to fit into her world in which feminine is a euphemism for disability, helplessness, and victimology that needs her governance to be safe. More of the “I am powerless, I am at the mercy of the world…bless my little-girl heart.” Even Hillary can’t give up using her being a doormat at the primary qualification for being owed a presidency.

  • ognywogny

    If young men can’t realize they need to leave women and sex alone permanently and take up a monkish existence, they are going to be imprisoned in droves in the coming matriarchy.

ONPOINT
TODAY
Aug 29, 2014
Ukrainian forces guard a checkpoint in the town of Mariupol, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014. Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko called an emergency meeting of the nation's security council and canceled a foreign trip Thursday, declaring that "Russian forces have entered Ukraine," as concerns grew about the opening of a new front in the conflict.  (AP)

War moves over Syria, Ukraine. Burger King moves to Canada. Nine-year-olds and Uzis. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Aug 29, 2014
Beyoncé performs at the 2014 MTV Music Video Awards on Sunday, August 24, 2014 in Inglewood, California. (Getty)

Sex, power and Beyoncé’s feminism. The message to young women.

RECENT
SHOWS
Aug 29, 2014
Beyoncé performs at the 2014 MTV Music Video Awards on Sunday, August 24, 2014 in Inglewood, California. (Getty)

Sex, power and Beyoncé’s feminism. The message to young women.

 
Aug 29, 2014
Ukrainian forces guard a checkpoint in the town of Mariupol, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014. Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko called an emergency meeting of the nation's security council and canceled a foreign trip Thursday, declaring that "Russian forces have entered Ukraine," as concerns grew about the opening of a new front in the conflict.  (AP)

War moves over Syria, Ukraine. Burger King moves to Canada. Nine-year-olds and Uzis. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Our Week In The Web: August 29, 2014
Friday, Aug 29, 2014

On hypothetical questions, Beyoncé and the unending flow of social media.

More »
Comment
 
Drew Bledsoe Is Scoring Touchdowns (In The Vineyards)
Thursday, Aug 28, 2014

Football great — and vineyard owner — Drew Bledsoe talks wine, onions and the weird way they intersect sometimes in Walla Walla, Washington.

More »
Comment
 
Poutine Whoppers? Why Burger King Is Bailing Out For Canada
Tuesday, Aug 26, 2014

Why is Burger King buying a Canadian coffee and doughnut chain? (We’ll give you a hint: tax rates).

More »
1 Comment