“I believe you can speak your reality into existence,” Erika had smiled at me as we walked to my apartment, sunlight beaming over the flowers in her hair. The California wildfires had upset her throat that morning, so she had worn a crown of sunflowers to make herself feel better — it also made her radiant.
“Although change is slow, it’s also inevitable.”
This event was one-of-a-kind at UCLA because it was a combination of education and application of many underrepresented forms of healing.
FEM attended UCLA’s Center for the Study of Women (CSW) 28th annual graduate student research conference, Thinking Gender: Pre-existing Conditions, aimed at emphasizing graduate student research and artistic exploration of women, sexuality, and gender across all disciplines and historical periods.
Through her research, Harris hopes to demonstrate the opposite: “We need to make [space for discussions about sexual assault] so that it’s not just centered on White, cis-, heterosexual, upper class women.” If a college campus fails to do so, then the experiences of women with multiple minoritized identities will continue to be ignored.
The recent strides in Hollywood finally punishing men’s abominable behavior has made Adams ecstatic. She feels as though the women who have come forward to decry their abusers, after years of suffering in silence, have broken that cycle of shame. Shame that has no place being carried on victim’s shoulders.
“If students don’t believe their cases are being taken seriously, they won’t feel comfortable coming forward.”
Sexual violence is the non-legal blanket term that includes sexual harassment, sexual abuse, sexual assault, molestation and rape.
“It’s more than women just getting an equal playing ground. It starts with treating women as actual people – it sounds funny to say, but it’s true – and expands from there.”
The truth is that the patriarchal, capitalist values which dominate American society are what allow Spacey and others like him to use their status as rich (often white) influential men to abuse others and never be held accountable. But because powerful perpetrators of sexual violence never face real consequences for their actions, no one knows what real accountability even looks like.