Brad Brown for The Easterner
Students rallied on April 27 to combat the perpetration of gender-based violence, rape culture and derogatory labels.
A group of speakers addressed a crowded audience in the campus mall for EWU’s first Slut Walk. Their message: take action against different systems of oppression and rise up against rape culture.
“We wanted to bring something empowering and fun to campus,” said Janie Wright Leiva, co-president of Generation Action. “An event focused on sexual assault with a message of survival, resistance and empowerment so that people can claim their bodies.”
Generation Action, MEChA, the Native American Student Association (NASA), the PRIDE Center and Scary Feminists organized the event to address what they deemed as a big issue on campus.
Hanncel Sanchez, activist and ASEWU general election candidate for Diversity Outreach, addressed multiple issues regarding rape culture, one being gender roles. She said gender roles foster inequality, discrimination, oppression, stereotypes, double sexual standards and that it is at the root of many problems in today’s society.
Sanchez also made sure to point out that these issues are not just women’s issues, but men’s as well.
“Men get raped too,” Sanchez said. “Men get raped by other men and women, but we don’t talk about it. We need to come forward and start talking about these issues.”
Jaclyn Archer, a member of the Black Student Union (BSU), spoke of specific instances where gender roles, misogynistic culture and rape culture affected her.
“I remember walking through Eagles Pub, where I love to sing karaoke, and walking past a table after I had sung a song and having a guy just grab me by the arm and go ‘hey honey can you sing me a song again,’” said Archer. “I had never met this guy, but he thinks it’s okay to grab me and actually spin me around back to his table because it was his right to touch me and address me because apparently femininity is code for permission.”
In addition to the speeches, participants made signs, wrote messages on the pavement and wore glitter to show their support for the cause. Four members of NASA had a red handprint in paint across their mouths with one sign reading, “Am I Next?”
Wright Leiva said that college campuses have a high rate of sexual assault, and that during women’s college years, they are at the highest risk of being sexually assaulted.
“Marriage is not a license to rape,” said Sanchez. “It doesn’t matter if you’ve had sex a thousand times, you need to get consent every single time. Women’s bodies are sacred, they need to be respected. Women are more than just boobs and butts. Women are human beings that deserve the respect and dignity from everyone.”
“We want the Eastern community to know a survivor is never at fault, and we need to stand up and take action on how we think, talk and react to address different systems of oppression,” Wright Leiva said. •