Hunting Ground

A crop of the cover of The Hunting Ground, a 2015 movie that exposes the "invisible war" of sexual assault on college campuses. 

One day last week I dressed up because the weather was so nice. My outfit: a floral skirt, a fitted shirt, sandals and a decorative necklace. I also had makeup on. I was walking home from campus when an older man was walking toward me, toward campus, on the same side of the sidewalk. When we passed each other, he said, “You look beautiful today,” in a voice just above a whisper. With my headphones in my ears, I pretended not to hear him and continued walking home.

You might be thinking, Wow Theresa, that was rude; he was just giving you a compliment. Maybe the situation isn’t technically defined as a catcall because there was no yelling or whistling, but it doesn’t change the fact that I walked away feeling degraded. He could have kept walking but for some reason, he felt the need to stop and let me know how pretty I looked that day. As if I got dressed that morning just so I could look nice for him. 

My small incident is just one story in a larger picture of everyday sexism that women face. The Everyday Sexism Project was started by Laura Bates in 2012 to demonstrate the type of sexual harassment and discrimination that occur daily. Last Tuesday, the Everyday Sexism Project tweeted:

Following that tweet, they said many of their followers were shocked to hear that sexual harassment started at such a young age and then asked their followers to tweet using the #WhenIWas hashtag to share their experiences.

#WhenIWas

The following tweets are just a handful of examples of women using the #WhenIWas hashtag.

Warning: Some tweets may be triggering.

Sexual Assault Awareness Month

The goal of the Everyday Sexism Project is to first understand how sexism is pervasive in our society. Awareness is necessary before change can occur. The same goal grounds Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April: Raise pubic awareness, and educate prevention of sexual assault.

There are several resources in Columbia, on and off MU campus, to get educated about sexual assault or to get help if you are a victim of sexual assault:

  • Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Center (RSVP), MU Student Center - The RSVP center, sponsor of the Green Dot program at MU, provides counseling, support services and education. 
  • MU Counseling Center, 119 Parker Hall - The MU Counseling Center provides counseling and additional resources to help others you might be concerned about.
  • True North - True North is a shelter for victims of domestic violence and assault. Call their hotline for assistance: 573-875-1370
  • Title IX Office, 202 Jesse Hall - File a report of sexual harassment or assault to the MU Title IX office that includes a member of the student body, faculty, staff, volunteers or visitors or an incident that occurs on the MU campus. Their online resource also includes a list of other resources available

On Thursday, April 28, the RSVP center has organized an event, "Take Back the Night," as a march through campus to end sexual violence. The event begins at 6 p.m. on Traditions Plaza. See the center's calendar for more information. 

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