How to help fight rape culture and slutshaming
Slut. Whore. Skank. These are just some of the derogatory words you’ve probably heard used towards women when they have sex or engage in any kind of sexual activity. According to Urban Dictionary, a website that allows anyone to publish their own definitions and then rate them, “slut” is defined as “a woman with the morals of a man.” After reading that, it is difficult for one to assume that our nation is past any gender inequality issues. Slut-shaming and rape culture are becoming more prominent than ever, and thanks to Title IX and other campaigns like the Vagina Monologues and the V-Day movement, along with the assistance of the Advocacy Center, help is offered, though surely not as widely as it should be.
What is title IX?
With the beginning of a new academic year, a campaign titled “Know Your IX” set out to abolish these issues from continuing or strengthening within one’s educational rights. The “IX” refers to the Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments, which requires schools to ensure the safety of their students from sexual violence and other types of harassment while also providing them with jobs and housing.
Since the “Know Your IX” campaign has been brought about in Ithaca (and more services have been created), the Advocacy Center has received more reports of sexual violence and partner-intimacy issues this year than they had last year. This shows that the more help that is provided, the more victims will be willing to speak up and use these services to recover. They have even been working directly with Ithaca College. Kristi Taylor, adult community educator of the Advocacy Center, states, “We have been in communications with campus personnel to make sure that we have a good understanding about what the new investigation procedures are if students or faculty come forward.”
What are the Vagina Monologues?
Rebecca Billings, a senior at IC, has been taking action into her own hands by becoming involved with various activities and alliances that spread awareness about these issues. Billings became a part of The Vagina Monologues in February of 2012 because of her passion for gender equality. The Vagina Monologues (supported by the Advocacy Center) is a play that is seen around the world, every year near Valentine’s Day, encompassing random women of all different types to talk about their sexuality and sexual experiences, and provide them and the viewers with a safe space to express oneself.
“The play gives a voice to something that’s rarely talked about,” Billings said. Interested? You can catch the play being shown here at IC or at Cornell University.
Because the play is shown during the Valentine’s Day holiday, Eve Ensler, the author of The Vagina Monologues, created the V-Day movement. This activist movement produces large-scale benefits including gatherings, films, and campaigns to spread awareness. It is clear that movements like these help, but unfortunately, sexual violence and harassment awareness is only now becoming a less-taboo topic, still leaving some women to deal with those who remain uninformed and biased.
How does slut-shaming and rape culture relate?
Campaigns like Know Your IX and V-Day encourage women to be confident and independent, but living in a society with a slut-shaming culture makes it particularly difficult for one to stay strong and be true to oneself.
Slut-shaming is the act of expressing negative comments and feelings towards a woman for her sexual acts, or even sometimes just by being open or comfortable with her body. Looking back to the beginning of this article with the derogatory names, it’s clear that they are all used towards women. Think about it. Remember the last time a man was ridiculed for his sexual acts. What was he called? “Man-whore?” “Man-slut?” Was he even ridiculed at all? The word “man” is literally just added onto the derogatory word. In fact, the word “whore” is technically genderless, but because a majority of our society is so caught up in the idea that women who exploit themselves are less pure or feminine, some gender-neutral terms are becoming one-sided.
Similarly, rape culture is accusing the victim involved in the sex crime or assault, and believing that the victim was “asking for it.” This includes teaching women not to dress inappropriately, instead of teaching men not to assume she wants to have sex if she is dressed a certain way. Another example is teaching younger girls not to send “nudes” instead of teaching guys not to ask for them. Multiple suicide cases are derived from women and young girls having poor self-esteem due to harassment and societal expectations. If slut-shaming is still prevalent, many women will have a chance to continue feeling that they deserved any kind of sexual violence that happened to them.
How can an Ithaca College student help?
1. Get educated — the basis of helping is knowing what you can do for others (or yourself). You can participate in OSEMA’s new program, Bringing in the Bystander, to learn how to be a good bystander when dealing with intimate partner/sexual violence and helping a survivor recover afterwards. Also, visit the “Know Your IX” campaign website to understand your rights and find out what Ithaca College’s policies are, so you know who to go to when someone is in need.
2. Attend The Advocacy center’s events — Joining in on the Three-Legged Half K, a fundraiser being held on October 19th, would be a great start. At 11:00 AM at Cass Park, can support them financially and spread awareness to all of these issues. “Like” the Advocacy Center of Tompkins County to find out how you can register and stay updated with upcoming events.
3. Donate — whether it’s a fraction of your money or time, the Advocacy Center always welcomes any kind of goods. Simply by dropping off your old cell phones or volunteering as a hotline advocate, education intern or at their special events, survivors can be helped and get one step closer to recovery.
Alexis Farabaugh is a freshman writing major who will wear whatever she wants for Halloween, and you can deal with it. Email her at [email protected].