Photo courtesy of lifehacker.com

BY GABRIELLE REED, Guest Columnist

Photo courtesy of lifehacker.com
Photo courtesy of lifehacker.com

 

Sexual assault hits closer to home than most realize. CNN just recently reported a survey on college students. The survey stated that 23 percent of female college students said they experienced some form of unwanted sexual contact — ranging from kissing to touching to rape, carried out by force or threat of force, or while they were incapacitated due to alcohol and drug use.

To me, this statistic is alarming and totally unacceptable. As a person who has friends and family members who have dealt with sexual abuse, whether as adults or in their childhood, I feel very passionate about making sure all people have a space where they feel safe. This is bigger than just eliminating rape on college campuses. This is about upholding a certain standard of humanity. This is about respecting other people’s bodies.

What can we do to bring awareness to this issue? We can make it known through social media and through our own activism. We can’t just rely on the entertainment media to call attention to sexual assault and the negative effects of rape culture. Even though, it is so refreshing to see entertainers like Lady Gaga shedding a light on this subject. Her new music video “Till it Happens to You” depicts college women being sexually assaulted and finding the strength to heal. I find this empowering because so many people are ashamed of being sexually assaulted and they never reach out to receive the help they need. P.S. Going to a therapist makes a world of a difference, trust me.

I wonder what it will take to make this stop. I think it’s a deeper issue. It comes back to male entitlement and what males are taught about sex in their youth. Changing the way people think is key. We can’t allow any system of patriarchy to oppress us anymore. Telling a woman she was sexually assaulted because of her outfit choice is demeaning. Women are more than objects. Actually, our bodies belong to us. To be perfectly honest, the outfits we wear are not worn to cater to the male gaze. It is an expression of our sexuality and creativity. We have minds of our own. It is time to take back our narrative as women.

Also, I know that males are sexually assaulted. If we stop condoning any form of sexual abuse altogether, we can stand up to the legal system.  No matter what, always know you have the right to say no. Your consent is valued.