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Intervening at all points in the spectrum of sexual violence.
In 10th grade I met BG. BG always made inappropriate sexist, homophobic, and racist comments. We had many mutual classes and friends so I saw and heard him a lot. I knew BG’s comments were wrong but I chose not to say something in fear of upsetting my new friends. One day at lunch, I had just come from my law class and we were learning about rape and sexual assault. People were not paying attention during class, so my teacher had cried out “the penis is a weapon” to get her point across. While processing this class with friends at lunch, BG interrupted, “the penis is not a weapon”, and proceeded to make a joke about being raped. Rape is never funny. A friend’s recent disclosure and BG’s history of disrespect gave me the courage to intervene. I told him that he could not say things like this and that raping someone is not funny.
After I challenged BG on his attitude and perspective that first time, after that whenever he made awful comments whenever I was around I would always say something letting him know that it is not ok. BG may still have the same attitudes that he did when we were in high school. However, I know that BG eventually stopped making sexist comments around me and our mutual friends stopped tolerating this behavior. It seems that they realized it was harmful too.
I share this story to show that there is a spectrum of sexual violence and inappropriate and sexist comments are a form of sexual violence. When we hear inappropriate or sexist comments we must stand up and say something to let that person know that it is not ok. If you stand up, overcome your fears, and say something, you may not only stop that instance of violence, but also teach others to stop it. Others may notice your confidence and willingness to intervene and gain the power to speak up next time.