Students learned about consent and rape culture in the latest installment of “Para Mujeres,” a seminar put on by the WoMen’s Center on Tuesday.
Cyrene Underhill, facilitator of the event and vice president of the “Consent is Key” club, spoke about the violence prevention program and the definition of consent. She defined consent as being an “active and enthusiastic participation.” It is something that can be given and taken away and cannot be assumed by silence, she said.
Underhill provided students with characteristics of sexual assault. For example, it can be unwanted physical contact that is usually committed by an acquaintance.
Most survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking wait to report the act in fear that no one will believe them or because they are confused about what happened, Underhill said.
There are three tactics that a witness to sexual assault can use to confront the situation: direct, distract and delegate. Direct means to confront the situation, distract means to be creative and help someone out of a situation and delegate means to get help from someone else.
Students were able to apply these tactics in different scenarios from the presentation. In one of the scenarios, students were asked what they would have done in a situation where they saw an intoxicated person being offered a ride home.
“I’d probably go get a bouncer or the person that was hosting the party,” said Jordan Morales, physics major.
Another topic discussed in the presentation was the concept of rape culture.
“Rape culture is a culture where sexual violence, dating violence and stalking are common,” Underhill said.
Students came up with examples in today’s society of rape culture. Underhill recalled a movie she watched that used prison-rape jokes, which are common, she said.
Morales sees the movie “The Notebook” as an example of rape culture because she believes that the male lead stalked the object of his affection.
Modern romantic comedies show that stalking somehow looks cute when it’s not, she said.
Underhill sees the book “Fifty Shades of Grey” as another example of rape culture.
“I think it’s basically all about rape culture and a very bad and abusive relationship,” she said.
Students talked about day-to-day situations, like when someone asks another person to prom and the person who asks persists until he or she gets a yes as an answer, Morales said.
“You are not obligated to say yes because someone buys you flowers and makes you a poster,” Morales said.
Students also discussed language that normalizes violence toward women and used the example of “wife beater” tank tops.
“I still don’t understand why a piece of clothing is named that,” said Alexa Hayes, criminal justice major. “It’s horrible.”
Underhill advised students what they should do if someone tells him or her that they’ve been abused. Listen and believe, take it seriously, say sorry and offer support, she said.