August 1, 2017
By Elena Eu
The fact that victims of sexual assault are still being questioned about “what they wore” when they were attacked or “how drunk” they were is indicative of how backward our societal views surrounding sexual consent are. Like those two things even matter! The fact that young girls are taught to dress conservatively, not drink too much because it makes them vulnerable, and learn martial arts to defend themselves from perpetrators is extremely problematic. Ever since I was young, my mother never let me out of the house wearing revealing clothing because it would “give men the wrong impression,” and I even had to take a 6 class long Krav Maga course to practice “how to get out of different rape positions” before attending college. I’m sure I’m not the only one who went through something like this. These actions foster a mentality that the victim is to blame for their experience when in reality that is not the case at all! We as a society should not be teaching potential victims defensive measures to use when they are in danger but should be educating everyone about the importance of sexual consent to prevent these attacks in the first place.
If everyone in our society agreed upon a definition of consent, understood why consent is important, and respected others’ boundaries, there would be no need to be wary of what young individuals wear or whether they are capable of getting out of an attack.
What now? How can we as a society be more progressive in the way we talk about assault? Well
Stop making flippant comments, such as “grab her by the pussy,” that only normalize sexual assault and harassment further. I have witnessed my peers make casual jokes about violence against women or engage in victim blaming that only reiterate my point further.. (No *****, your joke about how you “raped _____ in a taxi” was not funny even though it was untrue). Also, call your friends out when they make such comments! Tell them it’s unacceptable and explain why. (Comments such as “that test was so hard it raped me” are also impermissible and completely inappropriate)
Educate yourself on issues about assault and consent by attending BCC meetings or events on campus and in the LA area
Stop victim blaming. Intentionally or unintentionally. Comments such as “you could’ve said no” or “what were you doing there in the first place, you should have left” ARE examples of victim blaming. Assault is NEVER the victim’s fault so stop placing the blame on them.
Don’t define someone else’s experience with assault for them. Let them talk about it in whatever way they choose to. Your job is to support them and comfort them in this troubling time.