Sexual crimes are rampant on campus. Only this year, though there must have been plenty in past years, two cases from among many were brought to my attention, involving about five female students who were sexually molested or verbally harassed.
What is surprising is that despite so much media exposure of sexual misconduct coming at a heavy price here and abroad, including the cases of Harvey Weinstein, Charlie Rose, and Matt Lauer, all very powerful men in the USA, and so many school teachers' improper behavior toward their students here in this country, some male students on campus do not realize the devastating effects their bad behavior can have on victims, or what severe consequences they would have to face after revelation. They must be so ignorant and indifferent to other people's emotions and self-esteem.
Unfortunately, sexual coercion used to be a sort of norm in many women's lives. There were so many untold incidents of sexual harassment, abuse, date rape, and even gang rape. In my college days, a long time ago, male students often casually made embarrassing comments about female students' appearances right in front of them, such as, "You are fat! You'd better lose weight." They did not even imagine that their casual remarks could become a terrible offense. The importance of mutual respect in all human relationships had not yet entered their minds. Horrible though they may sound, that was a time when such horrible disrespect and outright offense had to be simply tolerated. It was taken for granted at that time that women were sexual objects to be verbally abused and physically coerced. But, not any more. Such an offense would never be tolerated now.
Sexual coercion is a crime to be punished, yet many students are not aware of the hard fact that severe consequences follow any sexual offense. However, punishment is not a cure-all. It is true that perpetrators must take responsibility for their misconduct first, of course, but the university is also responsible because the university has an obligation to teach students about the dire consequences of sexually inappropriate behavior, and also about the importance of mutual respect and sexual equality.
A friend of mine once told me that she usually asks the students in her class a question, “If a man is a tree, what could a woman be?” Surprisingly, she said many students answered, “A woman is its branch, leaf, light or water to make it grow.” Is a woman still a man’s helper or only a component of him? Why can’t a woman be a tree as well if a man is so?
All experiences are shaped by a certain kind of ideological frame. What we learn from childhood through schools to society in general molds and affects us a great deal. We are what we learn. That is why education is so important. For this reason, universities should equip students not only with professional skills and knowledge but also a proper mindset in which nobody should be physically or psychologically exploited but genuinely respected.
Myungjoo Kim (Dept. of English)
The Chungdae Post -
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