Content warning: sexual assault, rape, abuse
Over the course of last week, I decided to take UNO’s sexual misconduct training. The course was short and directly to the point, making me reconsider many of my views while also challenging some of the views in the training.
The course was three modules, spanning the time of 55 minutes and covered the subjects of rape, abuse and assault. The module covered how to recognize these situations, as well as how you should handle them.
Although you might go into this expecting not to learn anything, you’ll be surprised on how in-depth this training goes. Each module defines different aspects of sexual misconduct based on how our university views it, then gives you examples of what is and isn’t part of the definition.
Our sexual misconduct policy is very in-depth, and the video focuses on the difference between mental and physical abuse. Typically, physical abuse is easy to recognize for most people, but mental abuse can be a bit trickier. Threatening someone with blackmail or threatening to commit suicide to influence someone’s actions is mental abuse, according to UNO’s definition.
If you’re wondering how someone could disagree with these training sessions, allow me to shed some light on one of the few things in this training I didn’t like. The very first module asks what you would do if someone were to tell a darker joke, whether it’s related to race, sexual misconduct or anything that could be a sensitive topic. I personally feel it depends on the situation, and the training seemed to disagree.
This module stated that by allowing someone to make this joke, you’re “normalizing” the person’s poor views. However, some people enjoy dark humor, myself included.
I do not believe that by making dark jokes we are normalizing a culture, but rather trying to make a bad situation seem better through humor. If we can’t laugh about our misfortunes, then we will never move past them. However, this also depends on the situation.
If you knew someone was a victim of rape, most people should have the sense to not make a dark joke on the topic of rape. It seems like it should be common sense, but there are some who can’t read a room.
Adding onto this, if you are going to a social gathering and don’t know the people there, making a dark joke is risky, and you should accept the consequences if you offend someone. Not everyone approves of dark humor and that’s okay, as long as the one making the joke can recognize that.
The idea of not laughing at our misfortune is the only thing I disagreed with in this module, and although I understand their point, I know many people who laugh at terrible situations they’ve been put in and it helps them tremendously.
Sexual misconduct is a serious topic, and I think this module covers it in an engaging and educational way. If you pay attention and invest a little in it, you may come out of it learning more than you think.
For more information on UNO’s sexual misconduct policy, please visit this link: sexual-misconduct-policy (unomaha.edu)