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Old Gold & Black

Old Gold & Black

I Know Someone Too *Trigger Warning*

The+results+of+my+polls+on+Instagram%3B+Sept.+22%2C+2020
The results of my polls on Instagram; Sept. 22, 2020

It’s an issue I’ve wanted to talk about for a while, really. This is mostly because I’m a woman and because I feel anger and fear about the misogyny around me. After hearing stories through my freshman and now sophomore year of college about sexist comments, stalking, targeting drunk girls, drugging drinks and other things on campus, I decided to conduct some research on sexism, sexual harassment and sexual assault at Wofford.

First, I feel as though I need to explain the difference between sexual harassment and sexual assault for clarity. Merriam-Webster defines sexual harassment as, “uninvited and unwelcome verbal or physical behavior of a sexual nature especially by a person in authority toward a subordinate.”

It defines sexual assault as “illegal sexual contact that usually involves force upon a person without consent or is inflicted upon a person who is incapable of giving consent.”

One important takeaway from the latter definition is that sexual assault is not solely limited to rape, but any sexual touching that is not consensual.

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On Sept. 21, I opened three polls on my Instagram account that stayed up for one day, each asking my fellow Wofford students about their and their friends’ experiences on campus. In the image provided are the results.

Question one asked, “have you heard sexist/predatory comments made on campus?” I noted underneath that this referred to comments that perpetuated stereotypes or sexual harassment. I received 61 answers; 53 yesses and 8 nos. This comes out to 87% yes, 13% no.

Question two asked, “have you or someone you know been sexually harassed on campus?” I noted under- neath that this referred to sexual com- ments, stalking, unsolicited nudes, etc. I received 58 answers; 43 yesses and 15 nos. This comes out to 74% yes, 26% no.

Question three asked, “have you or someone you know been sexually assaulted on campus?” I noted un- derneath that this referred to any un- wanted touching or groping as well. I received 54 answers; 39 yesses and 15 nos. This comes out to 72% yes, 28% no.

In my final post after the polls, I asked for anyone who was comfort- able anonymously sharing a story to send me anything they’d like to share. I received one story about stalking that went as follows:

“I was once stalked by a staff member. I explicitly told this person to leave me alone twice, visited campus safety twice, and went to HR and Title IX. Title IX was nonchalant, called into question the truth and validity of my story, and never got back with me after promising that they would. I did not feel safe on campus, and I wish I could feel more confident in Wofford’s approach to these matters going forward.”

This reminded me of one of my own experiences my freshman year where a classmate admitted to sexual assault during class and played it off as a joke. My friends and I looked at each other, unsure what to say or do, so we did nothing and let class move on.

These stories make me wonder why there is such a fear among women at Wofford when it comes to reporting harassment and assault. I’ve heard again and again that many women around campus do not feel very safe around many men on campus, and that is something I think should change.

Too often, I’ve heard the problem of college sexual assault dismissed with “it happens at every college.”

I jokingly told my roommate in response to this dismissal, “I don’t care if Wofford is the first college in the country to have a really solid plan for handling sexual assault, let’s make it happen.”

With this, I call upon not just the women of Wofford, but also men and nonbinary people who call themselves allies to stand up against misogyny at Wofford. Whether it be a random classmate or a best friend, it is everyone of any gender’s job to defend victims of assault and stand up against not only assaulters, but people who perpetuate rape culture through their words and jokes. Wofford, we can do better.

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