Changing the Culture

There are many ways that everyone can help fight the acceptance of rape and abuse in our society. By paying attention to and challenging media images, popular culture, and common stereotypes we can begin to deconstruct the types of social perspectives that lead to violence in our communities. This page helps to reset expectations about healthy sexuality. By promoting these healthy choices we hope to improve relationships for every student at UNCW.


Understanding Sexual consent is key to changing these value systems. Here is a short video to breakdown consent to its basic ideas.

Discussing sex is still fairly taboo in our culture, and there is often the perceived expectation that people are just supposed to "know" what to do. However, none of us will ever "just know" what to do - we have to communicate in order to know what each person is interested in. We promote that individuals be open and honest about what they want from their partners and to check in with them regularly.

Here are some guidelines for doing this and reasons why it's so important:

  • Cooperation does not equal consent: Just because someone is going along with something does not actually mean they are consenting to it. People often cooperate out of fear and anxiety, checking in and respecting boundaries is everyone responsibility.
  • Consent is the presence of a yes, not the absence of a no:  Active, engaged and verbal communication is the best policy with regard to sex and consent.
  • When in doubt, ask: If you're ever with someone intimately and they seem to be uncomfortable or to freeze up, it probably means that they are not feeling ok with the situation. We recommend that you stop what you are doing, ask the person you're with how they are feeling, and clarify what the two of you can share together.
  • Alcohol & Sex –Consent cannot be given or received if someone is incapacitated. If there are signs of incapacitation, (slurred speech, stumping, glazed eyes, unconscious, etc.) it is encouraged that you seek help for this person. Please view the video above for additional info.


Language and media influences carry much more weight in our society than we often believe. Some things that you hear and see every day and seem innocuous actually can contribute to a culture that views rape and violence as a "natural" part of civilized society.

One example is of media ads depicting women and men as purely sexualized objects without any real connection to that which is being advertised. As we know, sex sells. There's really nothing wrong with using sex as a marketing tool, except that the views of sexuality and attractiveness we are fed are often unrealistic and idealized. They attempt to persuade us to desire a product by making us feel unsatisfied with ourselves. This imagery makes men and women appear to be only interested in finding sex and appearing sexy, which is not only a one-sided view of humanity, but of human sexuality as well.

We at CARE promote being critical of the language and images that you consume in the media and how they are used. What do things that you hear and see all the time actually mean? What does it say about our society's response to certain cultural ills? Are we accepting as tolerable things that are unacceptable in a civilized community? Try to start looking at what's going on around you and find underlying cultural meanings behind surface commentary.


One of the best ways that you as students can prevent violence is by intervening when we see our friends involved in potentially problematic situations. Peers are often the most powerful influence on the behavior of their friends. When you know them well, there are probably many ways that you can find to talk them down from a situation that are concerning. Sometimes this is a tough thing to do, but we have some guidelines here that we hope will help you in these situations.

  • Don't say "It's not my business" - Violence affects us all, and indifference is one of the worst crimes that we can be guilty of
  • Do be complimentary - Fostering your friend's self-esteem will make them less self-conscious and thus less likely to resort to violence to feel in control or powerful. It's as easy as telling your friends, "You know, you really don't have to do that to impress me."
  • Don't be confrontational - Verbally attacking your friend and telling them their behavior is flat-out wrong is not likely to get you very far – they will most likely do it when you're around.
  • Let them know you're looking out for them - This is the whole idea - we need to look out for our friends. Let them know that the reason you're talking to them about their behavior is because you're worried about the damage they might do to themselves and your friendship.
  • Do ask for help if you need it - There are many offices on campus that can help you if you feel like your friend needs counseling for their concerning behaviors or if you have a friend that is being abused and needs help. Counseling services, CARE, your Residence Coordinator, and the University Police are good places to start - if the first person you talk to doesn't have an answer they will be able to get you in contact with someone who does.