Discussing Rape Culture in the Classroom

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Discussing Rape Culture in the Classroom

A new unit has been added to the English curriculum for the winter and spring trimesters that covers the topics of rape, rape culture, and other related subtopics. The intended goal of this unit is to raise awareness among students, especially as it relates to their upcoming collegiate environment.

At the beginning of the second trimester, senior English teachers Mrs. Corrie Myers and Ms. Sarah Hunter implemented the sensitive topic of rape into their curriculum for their senior English classes. However, they explained that the goal was to raise awareness, not heighten emotion or create controversy.

For us as teachers, and as people who are very much invested in the future and well-being of our students, our motivation is [centered] especially on that awareness element of what situations are potentially out there and how can you make sure that you are safe,” Hunter said.

She also clarified that she and Myers “don’t want this to be a controversial issue. We are trying to be objective.”

The teachers also stated that they will be approaching this topic from a gender-neutral standpoint by making sure that all students get the same amount of information and that they focus not on feelings and opinions, but on data-driven facts.

“Rape and sexual assaults affect genders across the board. It doesn’t matter if you’re male, it doesn’t matter if you’re female, if you’re gay, [or] if you’re straight,” Hunter said.

They also explained that they have looked at information from RAINN.org, a website that focuses on data-driven facts about rape, abuse, and incest with both men and women.  

“We [have] looked at the vocabulary like consent, sexual limitations, etc, and we [have also] looked at the data from the RAINN website which is the leading source [we use] for sexual violence prevention,” Myers said.

According to RAINN.org (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network), “1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime (14.8% completed, 2.8% attempted), and about 3% of American men—or 1 in 33—have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.”

While the majority of students chose to participate in the unit, not all students felt comfortable with the topic. Senior Zachary Munitz disagrees with some of the teachers’ statements and believes that the school environment isn’t where students should learn about these issues.

“Parents should be the ones to teach their kids about this kind of stuff. It shouldn’t be taught in the public education system,” Munitz said.

Students were given the opportunity to opt out of participating in the unit of study. For the winter trimester classes, three students chose the alternative assignment. The students that opted out were reached out to, but declined the offer to be interviewed.

Many students engaged in the unit, such as seniors Andrew Burwell and Claire McKinney, found the exploration of such a sensitive subject to be beneficial to their educational experience.

“This unit is definitely more than an eye-opener… I think most people don’t really know about it, therefore it is not really relevant, but with the awareness growing it will become more and more relevant. And, I think it is extremely important to raise more awareness about it,” Burwell said.

Mckinney stated that they are trying to investigate the prevalence of the topic in class.

“We are trying to investigate people’s motivations; why would someone want to commit rape in the first place? We are also investigating how prevalent it is,” Mckinney said.

Liz Lichtenberger, a parent of two Sage Creek students and the President of the PTSA, proposed that all students should be taught awareness on the subject.

“It is a really important topic to address, especially for seniors that will be embarking on a more independent life next year…” Lichtenberger said, “Knowing that it is a huge problem in many college campuses, I think it is a great idea for [the teachers] to talk about it.”