A Movement for a Voice

Advocacy, to me, is the power of having my voice be heard as a collective voice that speaks for those who have been silenced. While one voice alone may seem small and weak amidst the voice or actions of the opposition, it has the power to ignite a change and act as an impetus for the beginning of a larger movement. A wildfire cannot start without an initial spark, and that spark is the power of just one or two voices. When I think of movements, I generally think of protests, marches, sit-downs, and the introduction of newfound social and political justice. I also think of the unyielding power of group-thought and hundreds or thousands of people standing together to fight for a common cause. Personally, I am greatly interested (and have even been involved) in movements that advocated against sexual assault and rape culture on college campuses across America. Some examples of the anti-sexual assault movements have occurred at various universities such as the protests against rape at Syracuse University in 2014, the mattress carrying at Columbia University as a response to the sexual assault of student Emma Sulkowicz (“Carry That Weight”), and the marches at Dartmouth College that aided in the implementation of new school-wide sexual violence mandates. Although I am also interested in other movements, such as the Gay Rights and Marriage Equality movement and the recent Women’s March on Washington, the anti-rape movement is the closest to my heart and the movement that I have been most diligently following since it’s inception. I see many, many benefits from this movement, such as the implementation of more harsh consequences for sexual offenders, support groups for those who have been affected by sexual violence, and the mandates of anti-sexual violence education classes on campus. A challenge to this movement that I can imagine will continue to be a challenge moving forward is the stigma that surrounds sexual assault. Many women (and men) are afraid to report a sexual assault because they are afraid that they will be victim blamed and there will only be scarlet letter shame for them instead of justice. This is why many victims internalize the pain and post traumatic stress that comes after sexual assault instead of talking about it to a professional or reporting it to police. However, I hope that through the continued push of the movement, this stigma will be mitigated, and victims will not be afraid to speak out, while offenders will be rightly punished.

-Katie Kornienko.

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