Earlier this month, we all learned of a private conversation, caught on tape, between two tv personalities, one of whom is now running for President. This conversation included one man boasting about sexual assault, and the other man laughing along appreciatively. In the days after the tape was released, the exchange has been characterized as “locker room banter.”
This article is not about the election or a party or a candidate. It’s about us.
We believe that words like this contribute to a culture that devalues women and normalizes sexual assault. As the Sexual Health and Violence Prevention Committee, we work to decrease the likelihood of sexual assault occurring in our community. We educate students about bystander intervention techniques and encourage them to intervene and speak up when they encounter words or behavior that contribute towards any form of sexual misconduct.
The question before each of us now is “how will I respond if I hear sexually aggressive language, or observe unwelcome sexually aggressive behavior?”There are lots of options. One option is to participate, or show approval by laughing, or smirking. Another option is to remain quiet or ignore what is happening. Other options are to use your body language to show disapproval, question the person (“really??” “what do you mean by that?” “Is that really what you would do?”), share your feelings (“that makes me uncomfortable,” “I don’t like hearing stuff like that”), or shut it down (“that’s not what we’re about here,” “not cool”). Do you find sexual assault valuable, permissible, or abhorrent? Does your reaction in moments like this reflect that belief?
How will you respond if you hear sexually aggressive language, or observe unwelcome sexually aggressive behavior? What words will you use? Our challenge to our Augustana community is to practice using these words. Say them into a mirror. Rehearse them with friends. Test out the ones that aren’t yet comfortable for you. Make them your own!
We believe that sexual assault is abhorrent and that we all have a role in preventing it. We also believe that the vast majority of our community feels the same way. As the Sexual Health and Violence Prevention Committee, we are now calling on every member of this community to challenge or shut down words and actions that contribute to a culture of sexual assault. Joking about sexual assault is never okay. Not in our community. Not in our locker rooms.
Written by: the Sexual Health and Violence Prevention Committee including Stephen Bell, Emilee Goad, Katey Bignall, Allison Koster, Dr. Wendy Hilton-Morrow, Avery Pear, Dr. Jessica Schultz, Dr. Jessica Nodulman and Chris Beyer