This past week, I was able to attend an amazing feminist spoken word poetry show called Speak Like A Girl. This group consists of two girls, Megan Falley and Olivia Gatwood, who use their poetry to address serious issues that women everywhere are experiencing every day. This short 90-minute performance really opened my eyes and motivated not only this article, but also my investigation into the problems that women are experiencing, such as feeling endangered just walking to their cars alone, but more specifically rape culture on college campuses.
The Catcall And Why It Isn't Flattering
There seems to be a misunderstanding on catcalling. Men think it's flattering or a compliment. However, to most women that are being catcalled, not only is it downright demeaning, but in some circumstances there is a sense of danger. During the poetry show, the two girls asked the audience if anyone had ever been catcalled and almost every woman raised her hand. Then, they told us "Keep your hand up if you have ever felt as though you were in danger while being catcalled" and not one hand fell. How unsettling is this? Society is constantly telling us "Oh, he just thinks you're cute," but is it still flattering when he follows you in his car, talking out of his window while you're walking on the sidewalk?
An article on USA Today said it best: "Catcalling does not mean you are beautiful, smart, strong, or interesting. Catcalling means a stranger values you so little he doesn't care if he makes you feel uncomfortable or threatened".
Rape Culture On The College Campus
According to an article on New York Magazine's website, Sarah Edwards of the University of North Dakota surveyed a group of male college students in order to see what exactly their attitude's were towards rape. Her findings were that " [31.7 percent of the men] said that in a consequence-free situation, they'd force a woman to have sexual intercourse." However, "13.6 percent said they would rape a woman." So which fact is more frightening? That 13.6 percent said they would actually rape a woman? Or that 31.7 percent of men that took this survey do not consider forcing a woman to have sex to be rape? This just proves exactly how uneducated our society is on sexual assault and rape.
Rape is whenever any type of sexual intercourse occurs without a person's consent. This includes when that person is asleep or even when they are intoxicated. If a person is in any state where they are unable to give consent and they are subjected to sexual activity then that is rape. Furthermore, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), "among college women, 9 in 10 victims of rape and sexual assault knew their offender." Rape isn't just being attacked in an alley at night by a stranger, it can happen with the sweet guy that lives in the room next to you after you've had too much to drink.
So when will women gain respect? When will we not have to fear walking on the streets alone? And more importantly, when will the initiative be taken, especially on college campuses, to ensure that everyone is properly educated on sexual assault and rape. According to a survey by the Association of American Universities, "among female college students, 23 percent said they experienced some form of unwanted sexual contact". Are we going to wait until that percent doubles or are we going to make the change now?