As part of 7000 in Solidarity’s second annual Consent Week, this Wednesday the Kerckhoff Patio was host to a fair dedicated to male survivors of sexual violence. Meant to be both a source of education and resources, the fair event was held from 11 until 2 to raise awareness surrounding an issue that is not often discussed, especially on college campuses.
Savannah Badalich of 7000 in Solidarity said of the campaign’s goals, “the idea is to talk about the statistic 1 in 6. Most people would never think that one in six men experience sexual violence.” When it comes to public awareness, male survivors often receive little to no recognition. In fact, to many, sexual violence is seen as an issue exclusively experienced by women. In reality, according to Badalich, “many clinicians actually estimate that the number [for men] is closer to 1 in 4, mirroring that of young girls.”
And apart from mere awareness, the campaign seeks to challenge notions of masculinity that are responsible for the stigma surrounding male survivors of sexual assault. Says Badalich, “we want to make it an option for men to talk about healthy masculinity, but also to deconstruct how negative masculinity can be, and specifically how it can shame men who are survivors”.
The issue for the fair, though, was reaching not only people connected to or already knowledgeable about these types of issues, but also to a wider audience, and in particular those who have never thought to challenge traditional notions of masculinity before. “What we wanna do with these fairs is to find people who don’t give a shit about this kind of thing, and make them give a crap about it. You shouldn’t have to be a survivor or know a survivor to care about this cause, but unfortunately that’s kind of how it is.”
And how do you engage these people, you may wonder? Badalich and 7000 in Solidarity had a few ideas: “If we’re buying into masculinity, we need to find things that men want to do, and that’s beer pong.” Pong balls containing the message ‘I love consensual sex’, along with a comic book, water bottles, and a plethora of other swag helped attract many whom the group felt would not normally participate in events centered around issues of sexual violence.
Overall, according to Badalich, the fair was extremely successful in beginning a dialogue that has been long missing on college campuses.