Sexual assault has always been a problem in society as it violates the common human rights of the people. In the contemporary world, there have been increasing knowledge concerning the sexual violence in the United States and more specifically, in the state of California and many people have become aware that it exists in the community. California legislature often plays an integral role in addressing issues concerning sexual assault. From the political standpoint, it has been established that even though sexual assault affects the community as a whole, women and girls are always the oppressed majority as most of them are often raped and subjected to other forms of sexual violence. Also, substance abuse in California State has been attributed to increasing instances of sexual assault against the people. The paper will explore the sexual assault politics in California and provide insight on why the issue is the way it is in society.
The Me Too Movement
The Me Too movement has been focusing on the experiences of the sexual assault survivors, and it was founded by Tarana Burke, an American activist, in the year 2006 to bring about a social change (Rodino-Colocino 2018). The rampant cases of sexual assault and harassment in California and their impact on the lives of people have led to the movement to gain traction both in the social and mainstream media. Many high-profile actresses have come out and explained their experiences with sexual assault in the entertainment industry, and the movement has offered solidarity for every woman who has become a victim of the sexual harassment (Rodino-Colocino 2018). It is instructive to note that women and girls are always the targets of sexual assault, and they are more often than not manipulated or forced to perform sexual activities against their will. The Me Too movement has effectively empowered many women as well as creating awareness about sexual assault and harassment and assuring the sexual assault survivors that they should not feel lonely and are being supported (Rodino-Colocino 2018). It is worth noting that in 2017, the Me Too movement was popularized by Alyssa Milano under the hashtag #MeToo, which has seen it trend in the social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram. The popularization of the Me Too movement has acted as a catalyst in the fight against the sexual assault.
Sexual Assault in Hollywood
The film industry, particularly Hollywood, has been on the spot for promoting sexual assault specifically against actresses. Influential producers, actors, and directors, among others, have been accused of perpetrating sexual assault against actresses and interns in California, which is considered as the hotbed of the US film industry (Chmielewski 2013). Harvey Weinstein, a film producer, has been accused by many women that he sexually abused them and such accusations against Weinstein resulted to a widespread opening up among women and men about their experience with the sexual assault. It is these accusations against Harvey that led to Weinstein effect and Me Too movement and hence a deeper understanding that sexual assault has become a big problem in the film industry and the society in general. It is imperative to note that California is reputed for having strong policies concerning misconduct in the workplace, but admittedly, it has been established that harassment policy in California is dysfunctional (Chmielewski 2013). Notably, the California legislature has laid grounds to come up with policies and plans that would ensure that people are trained about sexual assault in the future.
Moreover, sexual violence is not always restricted to the workplace. It has been reported that many college students have been experiencing sexual assault and harassment from their professors who use their power to manipulate and rape students who are more often females (Anderson 2015). Because students often limited knowledge of the available mechanisms that they can use to address their plight, they are always left at the whims of sex predators in their learning institutions. The emergence of the Me Too movement has, however, created awareness about the existence of sexual violence in colleges and has provided the much-needed impetus for the sexual assault victim to seek justice (Anderson 2015). However, California has intensified campaigns against sexual violence, and this has made the victims to open up and seek justice.
Sexual assault perpetrators have been put on the spot by California where the channels which the victims can use to report on their experiences have been enhanced. Social activists in the State often have the ultimate goal of creating a society with less prevalence of sexual violence. Developing and designing of policies that aim at curtailing the incidences of sexual assault in California has been prioritized, and those who have been accused of perpetrating the vice have been subjected to the judicial system and convicted accordingly. Despite the significance of the film industry in California, it has been established that it has resulted in increased cases of rape and other sexual violence against women in the industry. Jeremy Piven has been accused of sexually touching reality star Ariane Bellamar, which further highlights the extent of sexual violence in Hollywood.
Prevalence of Sexual Assault
It is more critical to understand the consequence of California's pioneering policy. Sexual assault has negative effects on the lives of survivors, and many studies have perpetually demonstrated that sexual violence is vastly prevalent in the states of California, especially in campuses. The Association of American Universities in their study has shown that an estimate of 11.7% of students in the universities in California has encountered sexual assault (Anderson 2015). By the moment undergraduate students are becoming seniors in most campuses in California, the research shows an estimate of 27.2% female and about 6.5% male have faced sexual assault caused by incapacitation, or physical force is employed. National research has also revealed an estimate of 46% of women in California was sexually assaulted in 2007. The study was consistent with the results in the Association of American Universities. The study evidenced that, almost half of the sexual assaults in the state of California occurred when the victims are incapacitated, and such sexual violence is least reported as compared to the sexual assault brought as a result of physical force (Anderson 2015). Most researchers in California also demonstrate that around 20% to 30% of the female in California state face the absurd situation of sexual assault when they are still at the universities.
Reporting Rates on Sexual Assault
Researches, especially one on the college population has shown an enormously high number of sexual assaults in California State, while the reporting rate on sexual assault is extremely low. Most of the campuses in California have less than one in every a thousand registered students that report the incidence of sexual assault every year. According to the data shown by the Association of American Universities on sexual assault in California, not more than 1% of the sexual violence is reported (Chmielewski 2013). It is of importance noting that, the majority of people who encounter the trauma of sexual violence, especially women in California rationally do not enjoy the distress of reporting the same. The rate of reporting should be an issue of concern in California because even 99% of people who go through sexual assault do not want to report the incidence. The concept causes a situation where reporting sexual violence is a hard and discouraging process which drives away the survivors. Nancy Chi Cantalupo, a legal expert at the United States' Department of Justice and the Association of American Universities, has also revealed reports on why the reporting rate on sexual assault is extremely low in California (Chmielewski 2013). The researchers have shown different perspectives in their approaches to the issue of the low rate of reporting sexual assault. For instance, Nancy stipulates that the low rate of reporting may have been accelerated by the conduct of institutions especial universities in California.
Nancy found that most colleges do nothing both in the investigation and protecting the student when the accused individual has declined, and sometimes, the investigation takes too long. The investigations comprise of numerous biases faced by the reporting student. Universities then assume the issue of sexual assault since they fear the damage on their reputations. Nancy reaffirms that, because the accusers are serial rapists, they perpetually commit sexual assault because they are not found. It is worth noting that an extreme low reporting rate leads to a high rate of sexual assault, especially in campuses in the state of California (Anderson 2015). Department of Justice shows that few universities give sexual violence the corresponding training to the people who may hear the issue of sexual assault first. Again the department shows that not more than half of the universities in California needs security officers to get training on sexual assault. The department also uncovered several campuses that do not give information on the procedures of filing complains about sexual assault. Therefore, these are the reasons for the low rate of sexual violence reporting. More imperatively, rules that hinder the capacity of the victims of sexual violence on making their choices on reporting also lower the rate of reporting sexual assault in California (Chmielewski 2013). It is worth to note that, the California Senate Bill 967 also provided policies that enhanced the reporting rate of sexual assault, especially in the campuses in California.
The research found that California passed laws in 2018 that set rules to prevent sexual harassment at the workplace. For instance, Senate Bill 1343 that reduces the threshold for sexual harassment training. The research indicates that reporting of sexual assault in California has been rising over time, especially on campuses. However, with the perfections in the previous years, only a few of the victims are reporting sexual assault to the mandated bodies to deal with the issue. Several reports have shown that most universities in California have attempted to overturn reports on sexual assault and also dishearten the victims from defending themselves. This has been a blow to the victims especial the most vulnerable women in of California. More importantly, the federal government and other states in the United States should copy and implement the policies adopted by the California Senate Bill 967 to address the concept of sexual violence in the United States of America. Adoption of the policies by New York is evidence of those other states, and the government is complying with the success of California.
Anderson, Michelle J. 2015. "Campus Sexual Assault Adjudication and Resistance to Reform". Yale LJ, 125, 1940.
Chmielewski, Amy. 2013. "Defending the Preponderance of the Evidence Standard in College Adjudications of Sexual Assault". BYU Educ. & LJ, 143.
Rodino-Colocino, Michelle. 2018. "Me too, # MeToo: Countering Cruelty with Empathy". Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, 15(1): 96-100.
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