As a part of the Baruch College celebration of Women’s History Month, students were invited to participate in a workshop discussing the ways they can stop sexual violence and the perpetuation of rape culture.
The event, held on March 6, was led by two consultants from the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault, Jeenie Yoon and Amber Lust.
At the start of the workshop, Lust explained different forms sexual violence can take, such as rape, assault, exhibition, stalking and catcalling. The introduction of these terms allowed a working definition of sexual violence to use throughout the session.
Lust illuminated the many aspects of society that help perpetuate sexual violence, like advertisements in magazines that objectify women.
Many communities, Lust explained, continue to enforce stereotypes not only of women but also of LGBTQ-identifying individuals by making assumptions and treating them as objects that can be manipulated.
Yoon went on to identify many of the myths that allude to rape and sexual assault as something that is excused under the circumstances of “boys will be boys.” Yoon asserted the fact that the reason behind sexual violence is always power and control with society being apathetic and accepting of violence against women.
Yoon explained that it is important to never blame the victim for a sexual assault, especially if close friends or family members claim they have been the victim of sexual violence. Yoon cited that only 2 to 8 percent of sexual violence reports end up being false. According to the alliance’s website, one in five women on college campuses have been sexually assaulted during their time there.
The presentation emphasized that the key to fighting these statistics is through healthy communication and education. Yoon discussed the different signs of consent with a sexual partner. She reiterated that an inebriated partner cannot consent to any kind of sexual act, and that forcing or coercing someone to have sex is not an actual yes.
Lust and Yoon both agreed that while understanding all of the different situations under which sexual violence occurs can be complex, it is necessary to recognize how society speaks about sexual violence and the treatment of its victims to make positive change.
“I think that one of the biggest takeaways especially for students was that it is never the victims fault—women and men both are victims and things aren’t black and white, but sometimes in that gray area in between when it comes to sexual assault,” said workshop organizer Crystal Tejada, the assistant director of student activities in the Office of Student Life.
Moving forward, Tejada discussed the ways this relates to how she speaks about sexual violence with students, saying, “You listen to people, stay open minded, you don’t come from a judgmental place, you have to be mindful of the questions you ask, to make sure people can come to me with these issues and so I can help them.”