In the honor of Sexual Assault Awareness month, conversation on the topic is starting to be brought up again in our community here at KU. Whether it be the signs on the walls of dorm halls or the representative flags placed outside Fraser hall giving awareness to the issue, the campus has attempted to bring it to light, as it should. Of course, this is all great, but it’s only a start. Most conversation held this month will only last long enough to bring the issue to surface level, and once the month has come to an end, people will have already moved on forgetting about it as a whole. The problem with this month is that it only brings awareness to the issue of sexual assault, meaning all that we are really saying is that the issue is there.
We are saying it is real and it exists.
How far can we really say we’ve come if all we can say about the issue is that it’s there, and the only thing we can do is commercialize the month as a step for women in the right direction if all that we’re saying to victims is that we believe you?
That is not enough.
A sad part of the truth is that women do not even see themselves as victims of sexual assault because it’s so common. That is because we usually discuss the act of sexual assault, but never bring up the side effects of it. We bring up the physical misconduct of the issue while avoiding the mental one that burrows itself in the brains of all women. We do not talk about the pressure put on women from their perpetrators and we do not talk about warning signs that sexual assault is about to take place. That is a reason women keep finding themselves in these uncomfortable situations where they feel they either risk being rude or risk having aggression from their perpetrator if they don’t reciprocate the same behavior as the man or woman they’re with.
It’s simply not discussed.
Another issue I find is that women minimalize the issue because they feel it is inconvenient and not comparable to other women who were victims of a more hurtful destruction on their bodies, such as a more aggressive assault than theirs. That is the issue with using an all-encompassing term such as sexual assault. Its simple definition cannot even begin to define the multifaceted, layered emotional depths of assault and leave women comparing their experiences with one another because of how broad the term is, rather than understanding what happened to them is more than enough for concern.
So if people want to talk about it, we can talk about it (in fact, there is so much more we need to talk about), but we need to also come to terms with the fact that the discussion should be at the expense of anyone’s discomfort who is not a victim themselves. The real conversation is a much-needed one, but in the meantime, I’m tired of only women continuing to have these conversations amongst each other, while men will excuse themselves because they “can’t relate” or it makes them “feel uncomfortable”. Ignorance cannot be bliss in this situation. Sugarcoating the issue as a commercialized month of female empowerment is not enough for me, and it shouldn’t be enough for anyone else either.
So, let’s talk.