November 17, 2013

LETTER: To Eradicate Gender Inequality, We Need a Gender Equal Solution

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Re: “Newsflash: Women Aren’t Safe on Campus,” Opinion, Nov. 18

As board members of the Women’s Resource Center, we were deeply concerned after reading Deon Thomas’ article “Newsflash: Women Aren’t Safe on Campus.” The article proposes that the solution to men’s aggressive and disrespectful behavior towards women is for women to withhold sex. However, placing the responsibility for change on one gender is a dangerous breeding ground for victim blaming.  We must instead identify and understand why gender biased behaviors exist in the first place and call upon all genders to change the “deep-rooted” culture that Thomas refers to.

When a woman is “instructed” to forgo consensual sex (a right everyone is entitled to) and chooses to not abide, blame will be placed on her actions and the actions of all women. It could be argued that if a woman was sexually assaulted or raped, it was her fault because her female counterparts had not stopped having sex.  This perpetuates our society’s far too prevalent pattern of victim-blaming in which blame is placed on the victims rather than on the perpetrators of sexual violence. The solution of stopping sex does what solutions in the past have attempted to do — make the victim the responsible party instead of the perpetrators.

Dismantling our society’s issues concerning sexual violence is not an easy task, as the roots of the problem are extremely complex.  It isn’t that women don’t want respect or that all men want sex; it is the reality that there are many factors that play into gender equality such as socioeconomic status, upbringing (i.e. childhood abuse), power and dominance.

What we as students can do to strive towards a safer and more equal space is to bring these types of discussions to the forefront with people of all genders, strive towards addressing micro-aggression in our daily lives, and explain to those around us the concept and necessity of consent if they think otherwise. This is not a problem that can be resolved with a simple fix; it is a problem that needs to be addressed by taking constructive steps toward a solution that caters to everyone’s well-being.

If we want to effectively change the culture, then it’s not you, it’s not me, it’s all of us.

Lauren Parker ’15

Angela Han ’15

Jen Cohen ‘14