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My freshman year at Central Michigan University was the equivalent to entering a maroon and gold portal.

In this new realm, I encountered a place that energized my soul, urging me to explore my passions, the environment and the people vibrating around me. It was beautiful, eye-opening and riveting.

My greatest gift in that first academic year was being welcomed into the Organization of Women Leaders (OWLs), an entire tribe of women who fluorescein ambition, intellect and unapologetic desire.

While sororities issue out sisterhood, OWLs became my clan of living goddesses, warriors and my dearest soulmates.

In the spring of 2017, when our organization began planning for SlutWalk--a march against street harassment, slut-shaming and rape culture--I had been selected to the forefront the march as the Energy Team Captain.

In that moment my heart immediately began to bloom. I ran back to my dorm room that evening, carrying a slab of cardboard and a handful of markers close to my chest.

“Stop slut-shaming; stop victim blaming,” was the context of my first ever SlutWalk sign, and still gleams in my memory as a sacred moment of when my life changed forever.

The mission of SlutWalk originates from a 2011 police address which occurred during a safety forum at York University, in Toronto, Ontario. The topic of the discussion, hosted by the university’s Osgoode Hall Law School, was on rape and sexual misconduct on college campuses.

The police officer present at the event said that in order for women to avoid rape, they must avoid dressing promiscuously-- dressing like “sluts.”

According to statistics gathered by the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), an individual is sexually assaulted per every 98 seconds in the United States. For every eight minutes, that victim will be a child.

The truth made me look at the people in my life who have been devastated by sexual assault, both directly and indirectly.

I saw my best friends, family members, classmates and even myself being broken by these inexcusable acts.

Yet this narrative continues its quest to justify these events.

“What was she wearing? Was she drinking? Why didn’t she fight back?” they ask, tossing demeaning words onto a carousel that crushes the people beneath.

Its swirls devour personhood with every question mark, which invades the air and inks out a gruesome red.  

“Why were you wearing your dress so tight? Why were your shoulders showing?”

I love to explore the night, and dance in the shadows in lacy gowns and with lusciously glossed lips.

My weekends are filled with spectacular adventures, illustrated by neon lights and thunderous hip-hop music that throws confidence and excitement out like cheap candy during a parade.

I always saw myself as a lioness with golden hair, so why does society want to frame me as a foolish lamb wandering into the mouth of the beast?

I march for the lions, who are not responsible for what has happened to them. Who shall never lose their grace or importance.

Central describes open discussion on sexual misconduct and assault as being too “intimate” and “embarrassing” for public knowledge.

During SlutWalk 2018, I marched barefoot through campus screaming out battle cries.

Survivors of sexual aggression are not broken and have nothing to be ashamed of. They are glorious, unique and radiate significance like a tropical storm.

SlutWalk is my promise to forever empower and defend both men and women affected by this poisonous, toxic element of society, and the narrative that aspires to vindicate it.

To my kings and queens at CMU, I promise to forever roar out my love and to slash at the massive umbrella which is rape culture.

SlutWalk is just the beginning of the revolution.

Photo Courtesy by Samantha Shriber

Hello! My name is Samantha Shriber and I am studying journalism and political science at Central Michigan University while pursuing certificates in creative writing and Islamic studies. I am a social media coordinator for the C Mich chapter of Her Campus and aim to stimulate empowerment, self-love and creative liberation through all of my works. My other involvements include providing content for Central Michigan Life and RAW Magazine and serving as the vice president of Planned Parenthood Next Generation at CMU. Ultimately, I'm unapologetically pro-choice, pro-love and pro-daily McChicken purchases!
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