Both sexes shown to be victims of sexual assault

Andy Skemp

When words like “rape” and “sexual harassment” are used in relation to University students, men are commonly assumed to be the aggressors and women the victims.
However, a recent study done on the greek system at the University of Washington found that men are almost as likely as women to be subjected to unwanted sexual contact. University faculty and members of the greek system agreed that males can be victims, though some were surprised by the study’s results.
The study, which appeared in the current issue of Sex Roles scholarly journal, was based on a survey of 165 men and 131 women, all new members of the greek system. Twenty-one percent of all men and 27 percent of all women were said to be recipients of unwanted sexual contact.
“Guys are trained to think, ‘this is wrong,’ whereas girls aren’t told that,” said University senior Bryan Altman, Sigma Alpha Mu president from 1996 to 1998. Altman is an accounting and finance major.
Altman said he has seen women act as the aggressors. “It definitely happens,” he said. “There are certain women who come to the house and guys know they have to be careful.”
Amelious Whyte, who works in close contact with the greek system as assistant to the vice president for Student Development and Athletics, said that male victims deal with different pressures than females do.
“We haven’t gotten to a point where men can say, ‘don’t do that,'” Whyte said. “The attitude for them (men) is, ‘How can you not want to get laid?'”
Whyte gave 10 presentations at fraternities and sororities in the past year dealing with issues of sexual assault and drug and alcohol abuse.
Most fraternities and sororities are required to offer educational programs concerning such topics because of international safety standards set by their greek chapters, Whyte said.
Whyte is only one of many speakers who are hired to give such presentations for different houses.
“It’s usually talked about from the men-aggressing-the-women point of view, and I’m sure in most cases men are the aggressors,” he said.
Elizabeth Tobin, peer education coordinator at the Program Against Sexual Violence, said her experiences suggest that the total number of women victims is much higher than men.
“We do have men come forward, but the majority of calls we get are from women,” Tobin said.
She also said that many of the cases that come through the resource center involve alcohol or other drugs, a common theme in both fraternity educational presentations and nationwide college surveys.
One such survey by the Core Institute is taken by a random sample of undergraduate students at the University every two years. The survey questions students about their experiences with sexual assault as a consequence of alcohol consumption.
Results from the 1996 Core Institute survey showed that 6.6 percent of the participants had been taken advantage of sexually as a consequence of alcohol use.
Comparing this number with those of the Washington study suggests that greek students are more susceptible to being taken advantage of sexually.
But a similar study done this summer by University psychology senior Jennifer Greenwood suggested that University greek students are just as likely to experience unwanted sexual contact as any other University student.
Four out of 50 greek students, 8 percent, reported knowing someone who had been taken advantage of as a result of alcohol consumption.
Greenwood, a sorority member, said that many cases of sexual coercion are likely to remain secrets.
“When someone is taken advantage of, often very few people — or even no one — finds out,” she said.