09/03/2014 01:47 pm ET Updated Nov 03, 2014

Wait! A Former College President Who Implies It's 'Her' Fault?

I just read another article about a man being interviewed and "implying" that it's a woman's fault if she gets raped or there is an attempted rape. My blood is boiling. I understand that this is still an all too common thread in our culture's conversations, especially by men in their 40s and up who work on college campuses.

I understand it, but that does not make it any easier to "stomach". This article was in the Huffington Post. But it doesn't even really matter where it was. I've seen the articles in the NY Times, Yahoo News, and on CNN, and so on.

We have to look at our language. Our language helps define our culture and our society.

With any progressive movement, there were often lots of talks, lectures, and articles that lead up to and helped cause the positive changes. The women's suffragette movement took a considerable amount of talking.

There were many, many conversations and meetings among the abolitionists leading up to the Civil War.

And I feel like we are in another war at the moment. Last week I read another article in Time about sexual assault for MEN in the military. I have spoken on bases about sexual assault. I know the statistics for women being assaulted, but I was not clear on how high the numbers were for men.

Frankly, I am appalled. And horrified. I don't understand sexual predators or serial rapists. I know that there are sick people in this world, but my brain cannot conceive of what's been going on all over our country.

I grew up feeling like a victim. I was a victim of abuse: sexual, emotional, physical, and mental. Although I am mostly recovered and healed; I also see the repercussions of my childhood trauma and how they still affect me at times.

When a person is sexually assaulted, there is physical harm done; but even worse, is the mental and psychic affects. Victims often have a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, as well as the shame and stigma, not to mention stress, and anger turned inward/depression. I believe that the shame and "bad" feelings I had about myself deeply affected my self-esteem, confidence, my sense of being capable and having trust for life, the Universe, and God.

There is a saying that: the guilty seek punishment. And I believe this to be true. I grew up feeling guilty because my perpetrators told me it was my fault, even though I was the minor.

Events that happened to me in my childhood and in my 20s, did deeply affect my ability to step out of my comfort zone and be willing to take on more risk in order to grow.

I have spent much of my life attempting to avoid conflict because I witnessed so much growing up. I have had a hard time trusting "healthy" people and have unconsciously attracted quite a few unhealthy people. If I sound like a victim, please forgive me.

That is not my intention. I am merely trying to paint the picture of what happens when someone is assaulted. The actual assault may not take more than a few minutes or hours, but the repercussions last a life time.


And yes we need to educate men AND women. We need to create safer environments for social, drinking events. We need to teach men and women to go out and stay out in groups. Maybe we need to start a sober "referee" to be at the parties since the lines get blurred when alcohol is involved.

That is one of my teaching points when I speak on campuses. WE talk about the fact that alcohol is a drug that affects every organ in our bodies. I put my hand on my forehead and ask my audiences: Which part of the brain is this?

Most students know that it is the frontal cortex, which is where we do our logical thinking. "That's why we have all made some dumb decisions when under the influence."

Maybe we need to have posters up on campuses, showing the effects of binge drinking or when people black out.

Yes we need to teach and remind females to help keep each other safe and not step over blurred lines. (You don't need to go up and see his bedroom tonight.)
But we also need to teach males that rape or attempted rape is NOT ok.

Our culture implies often that it is ok. The fashion industry, "that would rather make a bad impression than no impression". That was a direct quote from a top designer I met at a charity event. I was horrified and asked how she could sleep at night as a mother.

The first thing she said was: "Well, Calvin did it first."

Many times sports figures are protected, on the college levels and pro level.
We use sexual pictures to sell everything in this country. Look at the Burger King add where a girl is looking at a long "sandwich" coming at her. When I put this slide up my audiences laugh and gasp.

I understand that we are a capitalist society. I know that the markets are competitive, and that advertisers are doing anything and everything to get our attention. I know that the internet, twitter, FB, Instagram, etc have changed and continue to change everything.

I love that part of our culture that only the strongest survive. Ok, I sort of love it. But when we use advertising so that we can sell products; while also sending out mixed or damaging messages to our more impressionable citizens, at what price are we paying?

How many more girls and boys are going to get eating disorders because of the pressure they feel to look a certain way? I don't know what is in a young man's heart and mind. I can't imagine what it is like to have testosterone pulsing through my body. But if we keep talking about ALL of this, maybe, together we can find a solution.