The Importance of Sexual Assault Awareness Month

By: Adriana Miranda

TW: sexual assault, violence

Did you know that 1 in every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape? But this doesn’t just affect women. Men who are students and 18-24 years old are FIVE times more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than men of the same age who are not students. Transgender, genderqueer and nonconforming (TGQN) students are also at higher risk than other college students (source for all of these here). And these are just reported cases; who knows how much larger the number is for people who don’t ever talk about their assault? That being said, SA is something that affects us all. If you have friends who are women or TGQN, there’s a high chance they’ve experienced some form of SA. If you have male friends there is a chance they’ve experienced the same.

This is why SA Awareness Month (SAAM) exists. It’s a time for us to come together to raise awareness and to take action against sexual assault.

The Women’s Center is dedicated to spreading awareness about SA and this SAAM. As part of our programming, we participated in Denim Day on April 26, 2022. Denim Day began as the result of a court case that victim-blamed a woman for her assault. Why? The Italian Supreme Court ruled that her jeans were too tight for her rapist to remove by himself, so she must have helped remove them.  This past Wednesday, we also shared a“What Were They Wearing” display to share the stories of SA victims, heard from a survivor speaker, and finished out the event with healing arts and snacks as a break from the heavy subject matter.

 

“But What Were You Wearing?”

By: Sierra Voorhies

Trigger Warning: rape culture, victim blaming, and sexual assault. 

I’m not quite sure how to start this blog, but I think I will start with the phrase, “What were they wearing?” This is a common question that has been asked in cases of rape and sexual assault, and it perpetuates and supports rape culture. Rape culture is “the belief that victims have contributed to their own victimization and are responsible for what has happened to them” (University of New Hampshire SHARPP). The question “What were you wearing?” implies that someone’s outfit could consent for them to sexual acts, but no matter what someone is wearing, clothing – slutty, provocative, or skimpy – does not give consent for the wearer. Behind this question is the idea that there is some dress, jeans, or some outfit that could make the victim actually the one culpable for the crime against them because they are somehow “asking for it”.

By asking a victim of rape or sexual assault this question, one is placing the blame back on the victim for the crime perpetrated against them. Imagine asking someone, “Why were you wearing that watch? What were you doing in that suit?” This is an outrageous and illogical question,  because it’s obvious in this scenario that the victim does not hold any of the blame for the crime done against them. The same thought must be applied to victims of sexual assault.

In order to bring awareness and growth to the UMKC community, the Women’s Center is doing a display called “What Were They Wearing?” full of outfits that were worn by people when they were assaulted. This display will show how rape culture and victim blaming are part of the rape myth. You can join us on Wednesday April 27 from 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. on the second floor of the Student Union, as well as Thursday, April 28 to see the display and get connected with more information. 

Thank you for supporting our programming during Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Tips on Discussing Women’s Issues During the Holidays (Without Throwing Dinner Plates)

By Christina Terrell

Avoid familial drama – without feeling like your voice is being silenced.

We all have that not-so-favorite aunt or uncle who has something controversial or annoying to say about women, and how they should not feel dehumanized when it comes to abortion, politics, or gender equality.

It’s just impossible to hold back your opinion, right?

Your mother might have advised you to keep silent about your feminist views. However, no matter what she says, the key to not having to keep silent about your views is to pick your family opponent wisely.

Some of the best ways to get a dad or uncle – who might not understand where you are coming from – to see the light would be to share some of your personal experiences that can persuade them to have a more open mind. After hearing about some of the situations that their own family member has been through, the males in your life will be less likely to blame those experiences on the woman who endures them.

Naturally, this approach may not work when speaking to a male ego. However, this is okay, because you should be prepared to be disappointed by how they react to the information you share with them. Since it seems that women are living in a troublesome sociopolitical climate, we repeatedly hear that our opinions are not valid – which can make us women feel as if our right to speak up is being ignored.

Don’t feel defeated at this stage; there is still a way to rein in the conversation without turkey and mashed potatoes flying across the dinner table. Simply reply to your dubious family member with the facts – there is no better way to prove your point than with the truth. There are so many organizations that advocate for women by providing statistics and research-based information to the public. So, drop some self-knowledge on that family member of yours.

To help you out, we’ve gathered a few statistics that you can memorize:

“Since 2009, 60% of sexual assaults have gone unreported.”

The American Association of University Women

“One in three women are sexually abused at some point in their lifetime.”

VERVE

“Women from around the world aged 15-44 are more at risk from rape and domestic violence than from cancer, car accidents, war, and malaria.”

Makers

If all else fails, don’t be discouraged. Practice self-care by reminding yourself that your opinions are valid, and leave the conversation knowing that although women’s issues may not mean much to your not-so-favorite uncle, they sure mean something to you. All over the world, women are uniting to bring their voice to the table – even if it is just a holiday meal.

It’s a “scary time,” indeed. But for whom?

By Nina Cherry

Do you know when it’s a scary time to be a woman? When you have to be extra careful while walking yourself home at night. When you’re afraid to go for a jog, even in broad daylight. Fear is everywhere. Concerts. Parties. First dates. It is seldom that you can let your guard down.

In light of recent of events, I have heard men (and women) talk about how it is such a frightening time to be a man. I have heard parents express that they are fearful for their sons – fearful that his whole life could be ruined by an illegitimate sexual assault claim.

I pose so many questions every time I hear something like that.

Why are we so quick to assume that the victim is deceitful? Why are we so quick back up the perpetrators, who are often people we don’t know personally? Why do we try so hard to fabricate excuses for the perpetrator? Why do we have to ask what they were wearing or if they were sober? And most importantly, why are we still like this?

Why are we still victim-blaming?

We need to stop taking the side of the predator. We need to stop forgiving unacceptable actions, as minuscule as we think they may be. Letting the little things slide sends a big message. Boys are going to be men someday – men that have to understand and respect consent.

We have to stop perpetuating rape culture.

We must start holding boys and men to a higher standard. Respect is mandatory. We need to start teaching boys and girls about consent and boundaries earlier. Why do we lower the standards for boys? We have to start holding everyone accountable for their actions.

This article was inspired by a song that has recently gone viral by Lynzy Lab. Listen to it here.

Upcoming Event: Denim Day

By Ann Varner

Since 1999 women around the United States have been participating in Denim Day, however, it did not begin in the United States. Denim Day is a day in April when women and men around the world wear denim as a form of protest to raise awareness of sexual violence.

Why denim?

In 1998 a rape conviction was overturned by the Italian Supreme Court because the court decided that “since the woman’s jeans were on so tight, she had to have helped the man take them off” ergo, it was consensual. When news of this spread women in Italy began to wear denim to work as a form of protest. This year, Denim Day is on April 25 and will be held on the quad. I encourage you to join us for a presentation, a visual display, and free food! Remember to wear your denim as a sign of solidarity that we do not accept victim blaming nor are the clothes we wear any sort of invitation for violence.

Follow this link to learn more about Denim Day.

Reflecting on Rape Culture

by Matiara Huff

Last week, we celebrated Denim Day by raising awareness about rape culture at UMKC, complete with a denim display and information about rape culture. But if this topic is new to you or you just don’t know how to talk about it

March Against Rape Culture and Gender Inequality – 2
https://www.flickr.com/photos/chasecarter/

yet, here is a video by Kat Blaque explaining what rape culture is. #StayWoke

When I first learned about rape culture, I was so overwhelmed. Though I knew that sexual violence was a very important aspect of feminism, I didn’t quite realize the severity of this situation until I learned about rape culture. At first, I kind of felt like it was all just a waste of time. That rape culture was too deeply embedded into the global society, that there was no way to change it. But there is. It’s as simple as educating yourself. Because the discussion about sexual violence is changing, people are realizing how often offenders are getting away with their crimes, and that begins with educating ourselves. Rape Culture is not a necessary part of our society. We can and we will change it.

Real Men Show Respect

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3sOXN_80ohM[/youtube]

By Maritza Gordillo

I came across this video on YouTube and, after watching it, to my surprise, it had a different ending that what we would expect. Now, I say “ what we would expect” in the sense that society has taken rape culture as a norm so that we aren’t even surprised to hear about another rape victim. It should be the other way around; we should be surprised when it happens (which it shouldn’t), not when it doesn’t happen. This man portrays what should be the norm and how men (and anyone!) should treat women.  Watch and see for yourself.

 

ICYMI (In Case You Missed It)

By Ayomide Aruwajoye.

April is a busy month at the Women’s Center. National Equal Pay Day is on the 9th of this month, and all we are observing Sexual Assault Awareness Month with events throughout April. Below is are serveral links to blogs and news items that coincide with our April programs. For more information on Women’s Center and Violence Prevention and Response Project events, visit us online.

Slut walking

Slut walking has made its way to Kansas City, Missouri! A police officer in Canada told a college class that women should “not dress like sluts” if they don’t want to be raped. Women were not just going to let this one go. With signs that read, “my little black dress does not mean yes,” and, “Don’t tell us how to dress, tell them not to RAPE,” they marched through the streets to show women should be able to dress how they want without being accused of wanting to be raped.

To read more click on the link http://www.kshb.com/dpp/news/local_news/slut-walk-advocates-for-sexual-assault-victims

 

As India Struggles To Address Sexual Violence, Female Tourists Stop Visiting

The idea of teaching women “not to get raped” is a global issue. Can you imagine two women being raped every 60 seconds? This might be shocking news to you, but in India it’s just another estimated statistic. You might think that’s the most shocking part, but it’s far from over. Lingerie to ‘help’ women fight sexual offences in India. Crazy right?

To read more about the subject click on the links below

 

President Obama Hosts a Celebration of Women’s History Month at the White House

On March 18, President Obama welcomed a group of accomplished and inspiring women to a reception in the East Room of the White House to celebrate the progress women make in this country each and every day.

To read more click on link http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2013/03/18/president-obama-hosts-celebration-womens-history-month-white-house

 

National Equal Pay Day

UMKC Womens Center celebrates National Equal Pay Day!

  • Join us on the Quad for resources and food with the UMKC Women’s Center, UMKC Career Services, American Association of University Women, and the U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau. Learn more about the wage gap and gather resources about salary negotiation.

Click on the link for more info https://info.umkc.edu/womenc/2013/03/28/april-9th-is-national-equal-pay-day/

 

AAUW takes a stand too!

Tuesday, April 9 is Equal Pay Day! AAUW-KC will be partnering with the UMKC Women’s Center  to present activities.

Click on the link for more info http://kansascity-mo.aauw.net/2013/01/11/equal-pay-day-rally-missouri-womens-lobby-day-april-17/

 

Anti-Street Harassment Week 

Meet Us On the Street: International Anti-Street Harassment Week is an opportunity to collectively raise awareness that street harassment happens and that it’s not okay. All over the country people are standing up to say that it’s their neighborhood, their park, their streets too and they want to feel safe.

To get more information about the Meet Us on the Streets Movement and how you can participate click on the link http://www.meetusonthestreet.org/about/

 

Sheryl Sandberg advances gender equality

“I want to ask if you’ve ever said out loud the following sentence…‘I want to be the number one in my field, I want to be the CEO of the company I work in, I want to be president,’” said Sheryl Sandberg. Ms. Sandberg is truly making a difference with her new book, Lean In. Her book is about the absence of leadership roles held by women around the world in fields ranging from business to government and offers solutions to this lack of gender parity. “I want to especially do this for the women, because the blunt truth is that men still run the world,” Sandberg said. “Unequivocally. No questions about it.”

To read more about Ms. Sandberg and her exceptional book click on the link http://www.stanforddaily.com/2013/04/02/sheryl-sandberg-advances-gender-equality/

SlutWalk: The Campaign Against Victim Blaming

By Katelyn Bidondo

SlutWalk Sydney

SlutWalk Sydney by creatrixtiara

Slut. When we hear the word we automatically think of a woman who is sexually promiscuous. But, why does this word carry such a negative connotation? Well, this is where SlutWalk comes into the picture. The SlutWalk movement seeks to change the perception of the word slut, and make it something empowering for women. The movement started on January 24th, 2011, when a Toronto police representative gave some insight on the chauvinistic view of sexual assault by saying, “women should avoid dressing as sluts in order to not be victimized”. It is these types of views that are perpetuating these falsities and aiding in “slut-shaming”. Slut shaming in short is blaming the victim (traditionally the woman) for the assault. For example, maybe her skirt was too short or her shirt cut too low. SlutWalk aims to raise awareness about sexual assault, gain victim’s rights, and to demand respect for all. The walk is not only open to “sluts”; they welcome everyone in their mission for equality. Although the walk began in Toronto, it has spread to the United States and many other countries. The SlutWalk movement has already come to Kansas City. To see if there is a SlutWalk near you visit www.slutwalktoronto.com.

SlutWalk MSU by mattradickal

SlutWalk MSU by mattradickal

SlutWalk Minneapolis by Alan Wilfahrt

SlutWalk Minneapolis by Alan Wilfahrt

For more information on Violence Prevention and Response Project services and programs, visit our website and “like” us on Facebook.

Stories From Behind Bars

By Lakhvir Kaur

This video reflects how simple human rights are taken away from Afghan women. Women are considered property by Afghan men and if a woman tries to escape her violent husband, or a forced marriage, or if they are raped, they are usually sent behind bars. This means that there are a lot of women in Afghan prisons for crimes that you and I wouldn’t consider criminal. Gulnaz, an Afghan woman, has a similar story. She was raped by her cousin’s husband and  she was put behind bars for adultery. The brutal attack on the poor woman does not stop here, but rather she was offered a pardon by judge only if she agrees to marry her rapist. Could you imagine being forced to choose between marrying your rapist or staying in prison? This is just one story, but there are thousands of stories of Afghan women which are left unheard behind bars.