Chapman’s Walk Against Violence is an annual event put on by Creating a Rape-free Environment for Students (C.A.R.E.S.). This year, many men participated, strutting around Orange in pairs of high heels, hoping to bring some light to the issue of sexual violence.
Dani Smith, director of PEER and Health Education, Chapman’s sexual assault crisis counselor and the C.A.R.E.S. coordinator, explained that the event is a metaphor about taking “small steps” toward change.
I am a sexual violence survivor. When I first started to heal, I had many conversations with women who have also experienced sexual violence, since about 23.1 percent of college women have, according to the AAU climate survey on sexual assault and sexual misconduct. If they weren’t survivors, they were women who have seen how sexual violence can be psychologically, emotionally and physically harmful long after the violence occurs.
Post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression are common symptoms among survivors. I noticed that women were much more engaged in the issue because of the direct havoc it wreaks on our community. This is why the Walk Against Violence is so important.
It’s important for men to be part of the national conversation about sexual violence. The issue has recently gained attention from the media after sexual harassment allegations against Harvey Weinstein. Then, actress Alyssa Milano urged her followers to respond with “me too” if they have been sexually harassed or assaulted, and people shared their stories. I am grateful for the “me too” campaign because it created a sense of urgency. More men are holding themselves accountable and it’s a step in the right direction. Following Milano’s hashtag, some men shared posts with the hashtag #HowIWillChange.
It may sound silly. Men walking around in high heels is not going to end sexual violence. But they took time out of their day to engage with a real issue that has affected people right on your own campus, in your classes and maybe even some of your friends. And that’s important. That’s not to say this issue doesn’t also affect men. In fact, about 5.4 percent of men will also experience sexual violence according to the AAU climate survey on sexual assault and sexual misconduct. We all need to be part of the conversation if we are serious about changing this culture on a college campus.
The next step is becoming even more proactive in everyday life. It’s not enough to talk about sexual violence in spaces where it’s acceptable and comfortable. It’s so much more significant to call out your friends and family when they make sexist comments. It’s important to call an Uber for your friend who is a little too drunk. It’s important that if you see something, you say something. It sounds cliche, but we all have the power to make Chapman a safer campus.