Queering Sexual Assault Awareness Month

By Rosemary Barber

Sexual assault is a serious issue on college campuses. Campuses nationwide have made tremendous strides in recent years in attempts to raise awareness and prevent sexual assault. Sexual Assault Awareness Month provides the opportunity to create a conversation about sexual assault that furthers prevention and awareness. During these conversations it is important for people to realize what kind of terminology and language they are using. During these conversation it is easy for people to talk in terms of binaries, such as “male” or “female” or “gay” or “straight.” But there are individuals who do not conform to those binaries, and their voices should not be silenced in these conversations. The conversations around sexual assault throughout the years have also been very heteronormative, implying that cisgendered straight women are the only individuals who experience sexual violence. Each person has different identities that intersect and make them their own unique individual. Those identities should be valued and acknowledged during conversations about sexual assault.

People in the LGBTQ community experience sexual violence at the same rate as heterosexual people. So there is no reason for the conversations about sexual assault to continue in a way that excludes people in the LGBTQ community. If the conversation is only about cisgendered women, then people who experience assault and don’t fit into that binary are excluded. We must acknowledge all the voices that could experience sexual violence. Men, people of all sexualities, and gender nonconforming folks can still experience sexual violence. Their voices should not be silenced in the movement to end sexual assault on college campuses. If there is going to be a revolution to end sexual violence, then it must be a fight for everyone, not just straight cisgendered women. Queering sexual assault recognizes the voices that could be silenced in these conversations.

Queering sexual assault not only acknowledges voices that could be silenced, but it is also facilitates a conversation that helps prevents a wider range of people from having to experience sexual assault. If all voices are recognized during Sexual Assault Awareness Month then we begin to create an atmosphere within college campuses that are safe for everyone. We must validate all voices, know their stories, and further the prevention of sexual assault on college campuses nationwide. Validating other voices only creates a safer space for everyone involved in the conversation. The conversations that take place this month should include people of all identities. If everyone comes together in this movement we create a space where people can heal, learn, and grow. No one should have to endure the trauma of sexual violence, especially on a college campus. College campuses should be a safe place for all students. This month is an opportunity to shift the conversation about sexual assault to include voices that could be silenced.

By Rosemary Barber

English Major and Political Science Minor at SUNY New Paltz / Spring Intern at Feminist Majority Foundation / Lover of all things pink and glittery

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