Think about how many women you come in to contact with each day. You stand next to them in line at Chick-fil-a. You pass by hundreds of them each week on the pedestrium and hang out with them on the weekends either at home, in a bar or run into them around Statesboro.
Have you ever thought that for every five college women you see, one of them will be sexually assaulted while in college? If you’re reading this in a class right now you’re probably sitting around 20 women, four of which will go through this experience; a terrible, horrible, possibly life-threatening experience that did not have to happen.
I am a 20-year old female student on our campus who has been fortunate enough to never experience sexual violence, sexual assault or rape, but I know that women who have gone through it exist all around me. I’m not a type to anger easily, but in recent weeks of discussing sexual assault on our campus I have grown more and more upset at the unfortunate reality we live in.
Most of us had some form of sex education in high school, middle school, or even elementary school depending on where you grew up. Sure we learned how to put a banana on a condom, but did any teacher lay out how to deal with the attractive guy in the bar that keeps placing his arm lower and lower on your waist? Or the confident, older junior that buys you shot after shot and offers you her couch to sleep on for the night? These are the types of people you will come into contact with more than a creepy attacker with a knife in an alleyway.
Being forced into a sexual act is never okay, man or woman. And yes, I include both men and women in that statement because rape against men by women does happen. It may not be as prevalent, but it’s just as worth noting. No one should feel unsafe around their peers or feel like they always have to be on guard against being raped. If you were drunk and didn’t want to have sex with someone, “it’s college” is not an acceptable excuse.
Sexual assault happens to our students and to students all over the country. Period. By trying to deny this isn’t a problem or that it can be swept under the rug for young men and women to deal with on their own, you dear reader are incorrect.
We need to ask ourselves what we can do to make a difference. Maybe it means taking care of the girl in the bar by herself that can’t walk in a straight line anymore. Maybe it’s about educating young men and women about what consent really means, and how the word no will always and forever mean no. Maybe it’s about fostering a safe community for our students to feel like they can speak up if an assault happens, whether that be to a friend or someone within the University.
It’s up to our community to make this happen. From the president all the way down to the new freshman on campus, we all have to do our part in helping each other.