Written for The Argo by Zuleika Rodriguez Garcia
WARNING: CONTAINS REFERENCES TO SEXUAL ASSAULT
On Wednesday, March 29, the Stockton Coalition for Women’s Rights hosted a March Against Rape Culture on the Galloway campus. The march began at the Campus Center Coffee House, where several speakers from all corners of the Stockton community took to the stage to shed light on the current state of rape culture in the world. The physical march was met with much support, from those in attendance as well as voiced support from witnesses.
The first speaker was the Coalition for Women’s Rights’ own vice president, Nimrah Jahan, who used their time on stage to bring attention to the taboo surrounding the education of children and ourselves on sexual topics. “It’s extremely important we don’t see this topic as too complicated for us to educate ourselves on,” they said. They also brought up the fact that there are not enough restrictions on the content that children are consuming from early childhood. “What is enticing to a majority of the public is young girls. These are the links that are being used and shared online.”
Yamirah Williams, President of the Coalition for Women’s Rights, introduced the club as an intersectional feminist organization, one that is inclusive in its mission. She described how queer folk, the BIPOC community, children, women, and men are often silenced after instances of sexual assault, saying “Enough is enough. No more boys will be boys. No more locker room talk. No more silencing survivors.”
They also described how the transgender community is more at risk of sexual assault. Williams explained how abusers come in all colors, shapes, and sizes, are often people that the victim trusted, and how about 63% go unreported.
Andrea Sandoval, the Student Affairs Chair of the Student Senate, recounted her own experience as a woman of color, saying that “As a woman of color, I shouldn’t be afraid to walk back to my dorm alone.” This sentiment was shared by First Ospreys President Aleyshka Barbosa, who presented a quote she was told growing up: “Lo que pasa en casa se queda en la casa,” which translates to “What happens in the home, stays in the home.”
She shared her experiences of being treated differently than her brothers, being told she could not go out because she was a woman, and how she could not wear red lipstick because “red lipstick is for whores”. She brought attention to the toxic masculinity often normalized in the Latinx community, which was present for her while growing up in a Puerto Rican household. Women of color are more likely to be assaulted, leave school as a result, and receive ostracism from their community. “Everything about our existence is sexualized,” she continued. She then offered a call to action, stating that this generation needs to be the one to fight for those who have been silenced. She ended by saying “We are strong. We are Latina. [We are] women first above all other labels placed upon us.”
Katie Cupo, president of the Stockton Socialists, gave prominence to the fact that having a disability increases a person’s likelihood of experiencing sexual assault. Assault can often occur at the hands of therapists, caretakers, doctors, and family members. “Feminism must be intersectional,” Cupo affirmed, addressing how underrepresented people such as the BIPOC community and people with disabilities are ignored during important conversations, but need to be included in order to further the feminist cause.
Laurie Dutton, Director of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Center brought up that the March Against Rape Culture has been around for almost as long as the center itself, which opened on the Galloway campus in 2015. Dutton called out the hatred and fear directed towards women and victims of violence in present-day legislation. She described how it can seem like a daunting task to change an entire culture, but that we cannot give in. The WGSC is hosting a whole month of events starting in April, which are available on its webpage.
Director of Campus Center Operations, Joe Thompson, spoke of how he was never taught how to treat people growing up, but how he already sees that changing within the next generation. He described himself as a fierce advocate for women and healthy masculinity. Pointing out the scarcity of men in the crowd, Thompson said, “men, we need to do better.”
He recounted the way that he knows a plethora of men who are self-appointed “good guys,” and yet less than 20% of abusers are strangers to their victims. “Men know who they are attacking, and often it was a person [the victim] thought they could trust.” Thompson reminded everyone that, “consent never includes coercion,” and brought up the statistic that 9% of those assaulted are men. He described how many say it is not their problem because as men, they are not rapists, but what about the 9%? “Are we fighting for them? Either way, it’s a man’s issue…It’s not enough to say that you’re not a rapist. If you can acknowledge a problem around you, but not do anything about it, you are perpetuating a culture of violence.”
Emma Rodriguez, President of the Sociology club and Vice President of the Stockton Socialists, and Mo Keane, President of the Queer and Transgender People of Color Society, both called attention to the risks the LGBTQ+ community faces revolving around sexual assault. Rodriguez called out an aspect of rape culture that makes it so victims are more likely to be asked, “Did you say no?” and not, “Are you ok?” As for abusers, such as in the case of Brock Turner, the priority is often protecting the future of the rapist than protecting the victims. Keane called out how men are more likely to be raped than falsely accused, and yet,“#MeToo carries more shame than being a rapist,” in modern-day society, stating that “the current system is not designed to believe victims.”
For more information and resources from the Stockton WGSC visit: https://stockton.edu/wgsc/#:~:text=Check%20out%20the%20new%20Women’s,know%20your% 20rights%20and%20options.
Categories: Campus Life, Stockton News