Supporting Survivors of Sexual Assault: Why Asian Americans Must Join The Fight to #StopBetsy

Columbia University student Emma Sulkowicz carries the mattress she was raped on, in an art project titled “Carry That Weight”. (Photo credit: Getty Images / Andrew Burton)

Today, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that the Department of Education would roll back Obama era guidelines to protect victims and survivors of on-campus sexual assault by applying Title IX to on-campus investigations into sexual assault and harassment complaints.

Studies have long confirmed an epidemic of on-campus sexual assault and harassment — one that has been largely overlooked by school administration. An on-campus study conducted by Duke University revealed that an alarming 40% of female undergraduates had experienced sexual assault, as had 10% of male undergraduates. Similarly high rates of sexual assault were found at Yale (38.8% of female undergraduates) as well as in a combined study of 27 universities (23% of female undergraduates). At Cornell, 13% of female undergraduates reported experiencing nonconsensual sexual penetration, one of many forms of sexual assault. These data are highly disturbing: they suggest that a female undergraduate student is 5.5 times more likely to be the victim of a violent crime than the average resident of most major US cities. Furthermore, sexual assault is a highly gendered crime: on-average, female undergraduate students are four to five times more likely to be sexually assaulted than male students.

The issue of on-campus sexual assault is of particular relevance to Asian American women and other women of colour. At Duke, white female undergraduates are four times more likely to be sexually assaulted compared to white male undergraduates; but for Asian American female undergraduate students, the gender disparity in sexual assault rises to more than six times more likely to be assaulted, and Black or Hispanic female undergraduates are at even greater risk of sexual assault. In the larger study of 27 universities, Asian American female students were 4.5 times more likely to have experienced nonconsensual sexual penetration compared to Asian American male students. For Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander students, female students were 5.5 times more likely to be assaulted than male students. These gender disparities were higher for Asian American and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander students than for Black or White undergraduates.

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The Mythical “Maybe-No”: Our Twisted Definitions of Rape | #SAAM #DavidChoe #GameofThrones

When we excuse rape because it doesn't look like what we think rape looks like.
When we excuse rape because it doesn’t look like what we think rape looks like.

It’s poignant that on the start of this year’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), I wrote a post about the unseen sexual violence in the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community; and, as SAAM draws to a close this year, I find myself compelled to write this post about our culture’s twisted ideas about rape and rapists, and how it obscures and excuses high rates of sexual violence within our community by masking our understanding of what rape is.

Nearly two weeks ago, I wrote about Korean American graffiti artist David Choe, who in a March 10th episode of his raunchy podcast DVDASA confessed to an incident that sounded very much like rape. That post quickly became my site’s most popular post to-date and received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback through Twitter and Facebook, as men and women of all races and ethnicities weighed in with their own condemnation of Choe and his self-professed coercion of a sexual act.

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Did Korean American graffiti artist David Choe confess to rape on podcast?

Artist David Choe along with some of his work. Photo credit: NY Times
Artist David Choe along with some of his work. Photo credit: NY Times

Artist David Choe is a local Los Angeles-area celebrity, who made his name as the artist who painted a mural for the small office of a little-known start-up called Facebook and who was paid by the man who hired him (Mark Zuckberg) in company stock; when the company went public in 2012, Choe became instantly independently wealthy with an estimated net worth of over $200 million dollars. Choe, who has collaborated frequently with Asian American magazine Giant Robot, also painted a portrait of newly-elected President Barack Obama that was chosen to hang in the White House.

Beyond his artwork, Choe also has aspirations of being a celebrity personality (i.e. “a person famous for being famous”): between 2007-2010, Choe co-hosted a web series called “Thumbs Up!” which followed his adventures hitchhiking across the country, and currently Choe co-hosts a podcast (available in both audio and video) called DVDASA with porn star Asa Akira, which is basically a poor man’s Asian American version of the Howard Stern Show.

It is on DVDASA that Choe has recently stirred new trouble. A writer on XOJane wrote earlier this week that in a March 10th podcast, Choe recounted his latest “sexual conquest”; but one that sounds disturbingly close to rape.

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The Unseen Sexual Assault & Domestic Violence in the #AAPI Community

SAAM

Today is April Fools’ Day, but it’s also a day for contemplation of a far more serious topic. Today is April 1st, the first day of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

And while this month will through a great deal of online writing hopefully shine a much-needed spotlight on issues of sexual assault in America, these conversations often overlook the pervasiveness of this sort of violence in racial and ethnic communities, and the unique challenges faced in reporting and addressing these issues in our communities.

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Police warn vigilance after UCSB student assaulted, gang-raped by group of Asian males

The UCSB campus (photo credit AASHE.org)
The UCSB campus (photo credit AASHE.org)

(H/T to Angry Asian Man)

The UC-Santa Barbara campus is reeling today after a 19-year-old student was assaulted, beaten and gang-raped Saturday evening. Authorities are now searching for a group of three “Asian males” who orchestrated this organized and vicious assault, which occurred either on-campus or in the surrounding Isla Vista residential area.

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