Sigma Chi, Theta Psi (Waterloo) chapter have recently posted a video pledging themselves against sexual violence. This comes in cannon with a host of other videos and projects that get men on board talking about the issue. These include but are not limited to projects such as It’s On Us, He For She, and #Project97.
As Lily Jay stated in her introduction for the VP of the USA speaking on the ‘It’s On Us’ campaign, when allies stand up, it allows survivors to be free. Project 97 is named after the Canadian statistic that 97% of sexual assaults go unreported, which is astounding given that in 2009 over 472 000 women reported this having happen to them. That many women are affected by these crimes, and that’s only a portion of the victims, as people who are Trans are more likely than cisgendered women to be victims, and there are also proportion of men who have also been victim to these crimes. These statistics should be shocking to me, but they aren’t. As a young women who recently graduated from a post-secondary institution, these statistics are all too familiar to me.
Seeing groups of men who are notoriously known for being perpetrators, such as fraternities and athletes pledge themselves as allies is surreal. For someone who has been an advocate against sexual assault for years, it brings a feeling of elation, like progress is being made. I can only speak to how I feel about this as a woman. Most young women I know have a story to tell. Whether they have experienced being cat called while walking down the street, being grabbed or touched in a bar, being followed home from school, being assaulted by a stranger, or even by a family member or friend. No matter if these stories have been told, or if they are secret, they have a power over us. They instil fear in us, so much that we illegally carry pepper spray, or buy cat shaped key chains with sharp ears that we can hold in our hands while walking at night. As Lily said, this is constantly in our minds, we are bound by this reality.
This kind of campaign is more of what we need. Seeing men’s groups on my own campus such as Delta Upsilon take part in “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” and walking alongside Slut Walk not only shows victims that they have allies, bit helps to discourage perpetrators as it’s not socially accepted by their peers. Intersectionality of beliefs is on the rise and I couldn’t be happier. The feminist wave that didn’t believe allies are welcome is over. I hope this means a decrease in sexual assault is near. The numbers are far too high, but if we can decrease that even by one, that is better than nothing. We also desperately need to be implementing better after-care for victims of crimes of this nature. Expanding the conversation on such topics is how we eliminate these norms within a culture. I’m so please to see this kind of campaign proliferating. I’m proud to say I know men who will stand beside me so that my burden is not as heavy.