Sexual assault on college campuses is no joke. At this point, we all should be aware of the fact that it is an epidemic that seems to have no end in sight. Among undergraduate students, 23.1% of women and 5.4% of men will experience sexual assault at some point during their college career. That's almost 1 in 4 women and 1 in 20 men.
What about the LGBTQ+ community?
Recent studies show that LGBTQ+ students are at a higher risk of experiencing sexual assault in comparison to their straight counterparts. Within the LGBTQ+ community, bisexual women have the highest reported rate of sexual assault out of all the other sexual orientation groups.
A study shows that almost 38% of bisexual women say that they have been sexually assaulted by their senior year of college. In comparison, 24.7% of women who identify as heterosexual and 11.4% of women who identify as lesbian will report that they have been sexually assaulted by senior year.
At what point in college does this happen?
From freshman year to senior year, we see that number increase by 21%. That is an astronomical jump, especially when the same report shows that the number goes up by 11.4% for college students who are heterosexual women and by 2.7% for college students who are lesbian.
Who is committing the sexual violence?
The perpetrators of sexual violence against bi women tend to be men, according to that same study. Additionally, after graduation, another study shows that bisexual women had significantly higher lifetime prevalence of sexual violence when that data was compared to both lesbian and heterosexual women.
What does this mean for bisexual students in America?
As a bisexual woman, I often wonder why we are so much more likely to be assaulted on a college campus, especially by men. I think one contributing factor is that bi women are often fetishes for men. Instead of being seen as a human being, our culture teaches men to see us as sex objects or one third of a threesome, which leads to sexual violence.
Another contributing factor is that women who identify as bisexual are also hypersexualized by men on a constant basis. They see us as promiscuous people whose purpose is to fulfill men's sexual desires. This makes it much easier for a man to justify his sexual violence towards a bi woman.
Lastly, bisexual women are highly susceptible to corrective rape, or raping someone in the hopes of making them straight. Since many people feel bisexuality is not even a real sexuality, it would not surprise me if corrective rape contributed towards the high rate of sexual assault against bi women on college campuses.
Where do we go from here?
I do not predict that things will get better for bi women, either. This is largely due to the recent Title IX rollbacks against the protections former President Obama put in place. With only an estimated 10% of rapes being reported on college campuses prior to these rollbacks, the number will only decrease as it gets harder and harder for victims to be taken seriously.
With the government pushing for colleges to have a more lax system when it comes to sexual assault, I expect to see fewer bi women reporting their sexual assault to campus administrators. Why go through the emotionally strenuous process of reporting sexual violence if one already knows they won't be taken seriously anyway?
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