Catharine A. MacKinnon once said “In a society in which equality is a fact, not merely a
word, words of racial or sexual assault and humiliation will be nonsense syllables.” On Tuesday,
October 11, The Office of Intercultural Relations held a sexual assault panel. The panel was
made up of students and staff alike, and was hosted by the It’s On Us Campaign as a portion of their ‘Month of Action.’ The conversation started off with talking about what sexual assault really is. The proper definition is that sexual assault is a crime of power and control. The term sexual assault refers to sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent of the victim. Of course this is a sensitive topic, taboo almost, but it is a topic that everyone should be aware of.
What most people don’t realize, is that sexual assault can begin with the things a person
says and how they think. It can be as simple as saying “that test raped me.” By saying this,
you’re taking away the seriousness of rape. Things like this can be triggers to survivors. The very
root of this language starts with sexism, in the degradation of women or men through
stereotypical gender roles. A person’s attitude and beliefs shape the way people view rape
culture. People usually do not realize that they support rape culture in the things they say and by
being a silent bystander when they witness something.
There are good and bad talks about rape culture and sexual assault. The good talks
support the survivors and make it easier for them to decide to speak up for themselves. Bad talks
can degrade the survivors and downplay what may have happened to them. These good talks,
like the one held on Tuesday, are a good way for people to become knowledgeable about a very
serious topic. The panel members did a very good job of covering various aspects of the topic.
The members talked about why people do not speak up about what they witness more often,
which has become an issue on the Defiance College campus in the last few years. People are
afraid of the backlash they may receive from their peers, they are scared people may treat them
differently because of the stigma tied to rape, or they are afraid of getting a friend in trouble.
There are tons of excuse why people do not speak up, and yes they are excuses because there is
no reason to not speak up about a topic so serious. The trouble is, is that most people do not have
much knowledge about rape culture and sexual assault and therefore, do not understand what
qualifies as sexual assault. Sexual is qualified as any type of forced or coerced sexual contact or
behavior that happens without consent. Sexual assault includes rape and attempted rape, child
molestation, and sexual harassment or threats. With this knowledge, it is easier to determine if
this has happened to you or someone you know. It is time for people to speak up and stand with
the survivors. The support is needed and sexual assault is not something that should be let go
easily. Think of it this way, what if it was your mom, sister, or brother? How would you feel?
With this in mind, speak up for those who cannot.
Written by Gabby Justice