When tackling the issue of sexual assault, people must consider the political and social roots that have made the issue so complicated, said three professors at a panel Monday.
The event was the second of four public forums on sexual assault that included UNC-Chapel Hill and UNC-Greensboro professors. The panel presented a variety of historical and academic perspectives.
The lecture series is funded by a grant from the College of Arts and Sciences, the Institute for the Arts and Humanities and the Program in Sexuality Studies.
From lynchings in the South and the effects of the feminist movement, to sexual assault charges on campus and in the Navy, each speaker emphasized the complexity of issues that surround rape.
“I want to try to broaden our perspective,” said Lisa Levenstein, a panelist and history professor at UNC-G.
In referring to a recent assault case, panelist Rachel Seidman, associate director of UNC’s Southern Oral History Program, said progress in the legal system has a limited impact.
“Legal changes have not done enough to stop the assaults,” she said. “If anything, the case highlights the difficulty of effecting cultural and attitudinal change through political action.”
Levenstein joined with Seidman in asserting that society needs new ways to address the social contexts that surround the issue of rape.
“If we limit ourselves to looking at the legal system, we really limit our understanding,” she said.