MeToo: Why Sexual Assault Awareness Should Matter to You

Op-ed

Sexual Assault Awareness is an especially touchy subject; specifically, for me, considering I am a victim of assault. My parents aren't even aware of what happened that night. I begged him to not push me, I did not want it in any shape or form at that point, and the phrase kept coming up, "just do it for me, please". According to NSVRC, an organization that spreads awareness on sexual assault, states that 19.2 million women experience some form of sexual violence in their lifetime. What I experienced was traumatizing, but sadly, many women have similar events happen to them because this is the type of world we live in today. Hundreds and hundreds of years fighting for female rights and this is still an issue in 2021? It's unacceptable and horrifying that it is still tolerated to this day.

Even if you are part of the few not affected by this, it should still matter to you immensely. Men always say, "it's not all men", but the truth is, it's almost all women. Have you ever walked down the street feeling uncomfortable stares? Have you ever been told that your outfit is too "revealing?" Even if you think the answer to that question is no, I have a surprise for you. It isn't. Everyday when entering school, we are confined to a sexist dress code. The boys can wear basically anything they please, but for us girls? No. No short skirts, no tank tops, nothing too low cut on the chest. Have you ever took a moment to stop, and think, why? Why do we have such a sexist dress code? Society is telling us men can't handle themselves because it would be our fault if anything happened since we would be wearing something that shows too much. I'm sure you have heard the phrase, "she was asking for it". This is why we should all care deeply about sexual assault because slut-shaming and rape culture is part of our daily lives whether you realize it or not.

Constantly young girls are being sent unwanted pics or being told inappropriate phrases they don't want to hear. Did you know that is a form of sexual assault as well? Here lies the issue. Parents, school systems, and even society teach boys from a young age it's acceptable to be the way they are, but why should girls be the ones to change? We should be able to walk outside in outfits we feel confident in without the fear of being touched without consent.

My Personal Experience As A High Schooler Struggling With Slut-Shaming:

At my high school, I have been called a whore and a slut just for not wearing a bra. I was posting a "Yolo" on my Snapchat story. Yolo is an app where your friends can send you anonymous messages. I never received hate on that platform before that day, so it was a surprise when kids from my school tore me down. Two months prior I came to school in a PJ top without a bra, which shouldn't have been a problem at all. I barely saw anyone because of covid restrictions at my school, so it was extremely shocking to see my peers attacking me on social media. They wrote messages such as, “whore”, “slut”, “wear a bra, we can see it”, and even took it to the point of mocking rape culture. It was a horrible experience, and I was disgusted with the community at my school. 15 and 16-year-olds should not be acting like this. SLUT-SHAMING IS A PART OF RAPE CULTURE. IT MUST STOP. That's the first step we can take in this fight against sexual assault and rape. Boys, don't support your friends if they aren't treating a girl properly. Just think about how your mother would feel if she knew how you were acting by supporting such behavior. If young teenage boys don't understand why this fight is so important, let me explain it to you. Imagine your little sister or future daughter was a victim, how would you feel?

This month is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and is sure to talk about it on your social media platforms and with friends and family. Things like this may not seem huge, but it can make a big impact on spreading awareness which is a good step. Here are more actions you can take to help with this cause:

I know this is an extremely sensitive topic and maybe scary for some of us to talk about. But we have to. This is our reality and speaking up, fighting against these horrible social norms is the only way to make a change that we so desperately need. We shouldn't have to be afraid to walk on the street in a short skirt because there's a chance that people will touch us inappropriately or harass us verbally. When I turned 15 I wanted to wear a cute pair of shorts outside on my birthday, but my father told me he was worried because it showed too much. He was nervous about what other guys would do. Men are even scared of men. Shouldn't that be saying something? I don't want you leaving this article believing all men are bad or that they don't experience assault either. That is truly not the purpose of this piece. We need to educate our brothers, fathers, sons, and friends rather than bringing hate or violence into the equation. I know it may be uncomfortable to talk about, especially with family, but my advice to you is to have a discussion with people you care about and help them understand their role in this fight.

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Sarah Serran
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Sarah Serran is a talented artist who uses the visual arts and writing as a way to express and voice her views on many topics such as, racism, women's rights, and more. She is extremely passionate and actively involved with the Feminist Movement, specifically covering the issues of body image and slut-shaming. She hopes to use this platform to raise awareness and help young girls all around the world.