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Sexual Assault- Stand Up and Get Loud

It may be difficult to believe that a guy working toward a college degree cannot comprehend a simple two-lettered word like “NO.” However, if every college student were intelligent enough to fully understand the word, I wouldn’t be writing this article.

In every health class, sex ed. lecture, and “talk” that our parents and teachers hammer into our heads, we are repeatedly told, “No means no!” So, why is it that MyCollegeandCareers.com reported that in 2011, one in every four women is sexually assaulted on a college campus? I credit these shameful numbers to ignorance, insecurity, stupidity and weakness.

For a guy to commit rape or sexual assault, he is ignorant to what his victim wants, but he is also insecure about himself. Does he really think that it’s that difficult to land a girl who isn’t heavily intoxicated? Believe me boys, being a gentleman can get you quite far. On the other hand, we girls also need to end our own ignorance and insecurity when it comes to being a victim of sexual assault.

One thing that every girl needs to understand right now is the fact that rape is not the only way to be sexually assaulted. Maryam Elbalghiti, a senior Arabic studies major and UMD Residence Assistant unmasks the truths about victimization. She explains, “In this kind of silent culture surrounding sexual assault, we have such a narrowed view on what it actually means to be raped or assaulted, which causes a lot of women to avoid talking about their experience.”

Whether you were drugged, drunk, or deceived, you cannot be afraid and ignore the fact that you were taken advantage of. Elbalghiti goes on to insist upon ignoring the “male myth” of women “faking rape” and “crying wolf” because that can play a part in scaring girls out of speaking up. Elbalghiti’s advice for anyone who comes into contact with a victim is to “realize that it’s really important to let her explain the exact situation without you telling her what you think she experienced.”

 Allowing the girl to define her own experience goes hand in hand with this silent culture. “The girl is ashamed and disempowered,” Elbalghiti added, “so you need to empower that victim by letting them know that even if they didn’t have sex, it is still defined as sexual assault.”

I also think blaming an entire group of guys, such as fraternities and athletic teams, for one pervert’s exploits are wrong. Nick Rizk, a sophomore government and politics major explains that in the fraternity Tau Kappa Epsilon, “We are all really unique and different from one another,” Rizk said.

“Although we all share a sense of priority in terms of respect, one person’s actions cannot speak for the whole fraternity.” Rizk also mentions the fact that ten of his brothers have recently initiated the “Ten Men Plan,” which is a sexual assault prevention program. Go TKE!

 Finally, all of us—boys and girls—need to simply be strong and use our heads. I actually once watched a guy try to exchange drinks with a friend of mine, and that wasn’t ok. Both guys and girls can watch out for signs of danger such as a drink swap, a heavily intoxicated girl, and a creepy person.

I’ve also heard the disgusting expression, “No means yes, and yes means anal.” Really? As much as that can be a laughable joke, there are many guys out there that aren’t strong enough to stop when a girl simply says no. Let’s go girls, look out for each other, don’t be afraid to use a bit of physical defense (which is taught in KNES144T), and get loud because we all have the power to avoid becoming another statistic.

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