As a blogger for Fem2pt0, I strive to be honest. As a board member of George Washington Students Against Sexual Assault (GW SASA), I strive to lead by example. But I am also a college student. A college student who thoroughly enjoys going to parties (which, yes, are mostly hosted by men), a college student who enjoys dressing to theme, and yes, even socializing with fraternity boys. Judge me if you will! I believe there is a way to balance this lifestyle with one that doesn’t submit to sexual inequality and the “he chases, she submits” paradigm. This is a culture that Lisa Belkins condemns in her recent New York Times article, “After Class, Skimpy Equality,” where she notes that female students are succeeding in the classroom, but still allowing men – and other women – to sexualize and objectify them outside the classroom.
SASA is a relatively new organization on campus, but everyone on the board has gone through an extensive 3 -month training in order to properly serve the GWU campus.In this training, we are taught a lot about “rape culture.” Well, college is a “rape culture.” Rape culture is term describing a culture in which rape and sexual violence against women are common and in which prevalent attitudes, norms, practices, and the media condone, normalize, excuse, or tolerate sexual violence against women.
Much of what Belkins references in her article are the red flags of a rape culture. Things like lack of respect and self-worth for women, the expectation for women to wear skimpy clothing, and even the fact, as one student at Washington and Lee Universitymentioned, that girls can diminish each other more than any man by malicious gossiping. As a Sociology major I know that it is virtually impossible to change or mold a culture.But rape culture is different. Rape culture can be stopped and even one person has thepower to reduce rape culture. I take it upon myself, in all my endeavors on campus – whether in class, at a party, walking on the DC streets at night, or anything else – to eliminate my role in rape culture.
And this is where I come to my point of finding “the balance”. Can a girl who loves toparty, hang out with girl and guy friends alike, drink, and be someone who promotes asafe campus? I challenge you to believe that, yes, it’s possible. I have even slowly come tobe known among a few fraternities as the “sexual assault girl” because as a part of my role on SASA we speak to fraternities about sexual assault and rape culture. To most of the men’s surprise, they see me later that night at the same bar they go to and I see their shocked faces when they notice that . . . gasp! She’s even wearing heels!
I think my message goes further when students realize it comes from someone just like them. I can relate to what college students are going through, whereas perhaps an adultfrom a crisis center who speaks to a group of college students may not have the sameempathy for being 20 years old.
I’m proud of both roles I play at GWU. I have found a way to have fun, and still be anactivist for what I believe in.