Sexual Citizens: A Landmark Study of Sex, Power, and Assault on Campus

Jennifer S. Hirsch and Shamus Khan. Norton, $27.95 (448p) ISBN 978-0-393-43909-0
Columbia University professors Hirsch and Khan debut with an incisive presentation of the findings from a 2015–2017 study of on-campus sexual assault at Columbia and Barnard College. Drawing from 150 interviews (which are quoted extensively) and 1,600 surveys, the authors illuminate the gray areas that define many college sexual assaults. According to the data, most incidents occur when one or both students are heavily intoxicated, but Hirsch and Khan see the problem as a lack of education. Students are taught about consent, but most come to college with little to no sex education, and even less knowledge about the intricacies of interpersonal relationships; it’s “like starting with calculus when they’ve never had arithmetic,” the authors write. The study is noteworthy for including a significant number of young men, who often feel it’s impossible for them to be sexually assaulted, or are too embarrassed to come forward. Hirsch and Khan make a strong case that solutions to campus sexual assault must involve educating students about their right to sexual autonomy, and the right of others to the same. This detailed, practical inquiry should be mandatory reading for college administrators and parents of college-age children. (Jan.)
Reviewed on : 10/08/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
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