Combatting complicity

May 12, 2021

Yurin said the normality of sexual harassment is detrimental and remarkably frustrating because it is “such a mundane thing now.”

Thus, Eichenberger said many “don’t even give it a second glance when it happens.”

“It’s so normalized that I’m not even the slightest bit surprised when every single one of my friends has been sexually harassed,” Eichenberger said.

Eichenberger said even though bystanders may want to speak up, being with their friends acts as a deterrent from expressing their disapproval aloud and, therefore, causes them to ignore the situation out of fear that it would be “embarrassing.”

Furthermore, Doherty said women feel compelled to conform to expectations set out by society that promote a culture of victim-blaming.

“There’s still a stigma that it’s the fault of the woman,” Doherty said. “People will always say ‘don’t wear skirts that are too short,’ ‘don’t be flirty,’ ‘don’t be too nice,’ but ‘don’t be too moody either.”

Grace Hamilton

Similarly, Yamani said girls are expected to bear the responsibility of preventing sexual harassment. 

“It’s always been like, ‘Girls, you should cover up so that guys don’t look at you,’ ‘Girls, you should be careful what you wear,’ ‘Girls, be careful what you say’ and ‘Girls, be careful how you act,’” Yamani said. “Women are not just a piece of object that men can do whatever they want to, so treat them as equals.”

Olsher said accountability is lacking when seeking justice for victims of sexual harassment.

“On the reaction side of things, assaulters and harassers are not held nearly as accountable as they should be,” Olsher said. “The criminal justice system is not geared towards giving survivors justice.”

On the other hand, Olsher said a lack of understanding about consent shows “a massive rift in society, where men are socialized and taught that they can live without consequences and that the bodies of other people around them, especially women, are at their expenditure.”

Even so, Fallon said the world is headed in the right direction, with movements and organizations such as #MeToo, Freedom from Violence and The New York Women’s Foundation gaining traction.

“Lately, these movements for women’s rights have definitely helped a lot to break down the barriers and start conversations between people about these difficult topics,” Fallon said. 

Another movement surrounding sexual violence has recently emerged through a platform called “Everyone’s Invited,” with an Instagram counterpart. The platform has garnered over 16,000 anonymous testimonies from students across the U.K. as of May 12. 

Stories posted on the platform range from accounts of sexual attacks to verbal harassment to unwanted touching, all shedding light on the rape culture and victim-blaming of schools across the country.

One account shared on “Everyone’s Invited” came from someone who identified themselves as a former ASL student, with her own testimony to a criminal sexual attack in the back of a taxi.

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