Content Warning: This article includes testimony of sexual assault, violence and trauma.
In light of the Justice for Lena & Survivors of Sexual Assault Everywhere campaign, fronted by the brave Lena Sclove, Bluestockings Magazine will run an inaugural Brown Sexual Assault Series. We will be publishing various forms of testimonies about sexual violence, trauma and rape culture at Brown University. The series is an ongoing project to amplify the voices of survivors on-campus, provide them with a platform to recount their experiences, and to end the silence that stymies action and change. Please note that these testimonies may be triggering.
If you would like to add your voice to the dialogue, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We guarantee anonymity.
There are many pieces I could write in response to Lena’s actions, but I want to take a moment to share this one in particular. Having also suffered sexual assault during my time at Brown, I am so encouraged by the outpouring of courage and hope that people have shared on Facebook and in conversations. The activity around this issue is overwhelming and some of it very moving. I do not want to negate the courage and love that has been demonstrated.
However, I also wanted to remind people of the bandwagon effect. Right now, it is cool to support Lena and doing otherwise seems unthinkable. Right now, people are talking a lot about this issue because she has recently forced the university to face the way they deal with sexual assault. Right now, there are hundreds of students joining a Facebook group about the issue–one of them, I was horrified to discover, being my former attacker.
I worry, though, that people will think this is enough. Friends, it does not end here. This is a lesson we need to learn in general in our age of slacktivism. It is easy to join a Facebook group. It is not as easy, however, to change the way we talk about these issues—which is really what we need. In the immediate future, we need the university to take sexual assault seriously. But even beyond that, we need to look at how our culture deals with sexual assault and how we ourselves discuss it.
I encourage everyone at the university and everywhere to change their attitudes to reflect the direction we hope to go in light of Lena bringing this case to our attention. This is certainly not the first time this has happened and unfortunately will not be the last. If we don’t want to be doing this again in five years, ten years, we cannot just demand action from the University, but also must demand it from ourselves. Lasting change will not be sustainable unless it happens at both levels. I challenge us to not forget and never to ignore sexual violence on campus.
In six months, will we still be talking about this? At the next party you go to, will you assume that drunk girl actually probably really likes that random guy who’s been bringing her Solo cups of punch? The next time your friend makes an inappropriately predatory comment, are you going to let it go? I hope that instead of being inspired to click our mouse buttons, we are inspired by Lena to consider these questions on a daily basis.
By Anonymous Contributor, Class of 2012