Women's Center

Sexual Assault and Rape Culture

Sexual assault is an actual, attempted or threatened sexual act with another person without that person's consent. This includes coercing, forcing or attempting to coerce or force sexual intercourse or a sexual act. It includes involvement of any sex act when the victim is unable to give consent, including circumstances in which an individual is under the legal age of consent (in Minnesota, 16 years old), has certain disabilities or is intoxicated. Sexual assault can occur in any place and at any time. Victims of sexual assault can be of any age, race, economic status, lifestyle, religion, culture, educational background, sexual orientation, gender, or marital status.

Rape Culture is a term used to describe an environment in which sexual assault/violence is normalized through media and popular culture. Rape culture is perpetuated by the hyper-sexualization and objectification of women's bodies, glamorizing sexual violence, victim blaming, and sexist language. Within a rape culture environment, women are taught to avoid rape rather than potential aggressors being taught to not rape; sexual and street harassment are tolerated and considered normal; victim's clothing, lifestyle and other personal choices are scrutinized as causes for experiences of sexual violence; and objectifying concepts such as the "friend zone" are utilized to devalue women from autonomous human beings to sexual objects. We live in a rape culture.

No matter where or how sexual assault happens, the victim is never at fault or to blame. Sexual assault is a criminal act for which the perpetrator(s) is/are solely responsible. Instances of sexual assault can be prosecuted under Minnesota law and form the basis for disciplinary action under the St. Cloud State's Student Code of Conduct and employee disciplinary standards.

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