Last Tuesday, an article went up on a website titled “Party with Playboy” that got a lot of well-deserved media attention. The article itself was titled “Playboy’s top 10 commandments for college parties” and appeared to be written by staff of the popular men’s magazine Playboy. The top 10 list within the article was all about getting consent before sleeping with someone – about making clearly understood sexual decisions and working to eliminate rape as a part of the college experience. Disappointingly, Playboy did not publish the article. The list was authored by the feminist group FORCE, whose slogan is “Upsetting Rape Culture.”
College campuses have a problem with consent. They have a problem with rape. They have a problem with sexual violence. According to The Department of Justice, up to 25 percent of women will experience rape or attempted rape during her time at college, and more than 52 percent of rape victims are women under 25 years old. These statistics make it clear that anti-rape initiatives are totally necessary, especially when less than 5 percent of completed rapes are reported to law enforcement officials, according to the National Institute of Justice.
It’s time to deal a decisive blow to rape culture on college campuses, as FORCE’s top 10 list certainly aimed to do. Publications like Playboy can help that dream come to fruition. Playboy is a big deal. According to PBS, 25.5 percent of Playboy’s readers are 18- to 24-year-olds. This publication itself claims to distribute over 1.5 million copies per issue, statistics that help to explain why every year Playboy comes out with a list of the top 10 party schools in the nation. In the most recent ranking, UT was ranked as the No. 4 party school in the nation, which shouldn’t surprise anyone at UT.
Even if Playboy and other attitude-shifting sources that are geared at a college demographic aren’t coming out and working past a culture of submission, UT is. Voices against Violence, a division of the Counseling and Mental Health Services at the University, offers an incredible amount of knowledge and support for people wanting to know more about consent, sexual violence, self-protection and so much more.
Voices against Violence works hard to counter rape on this campus. With five staff members, three of whom are full-time, VaV has the resources to be a source of change on this campus. According to VaV, consent is not tacit, it must be stated in an exchange of words.
This is an understanding that needs to be reached by students everywhere — not just one demographic of students, but to each and every person on the 40 Acres. There is a problem that exists in schools because consent isn’t seen as sexy, it’s not standard — yet. The University of Texas has Voices against Violence to help make consent commonplace, but students need to be open to this message. Hopefully, Playboy will get the message that VaV and FORCE are sending and will be producing content about sexual safety soon.
Lazare is a government and women’s and gender studies sophomore from Houston. Follow Lazare on Twitter @alicelazare.