Whether someone is found guilty or innocent in the criminal justice system does not reflect whether or not a survivor’s story is true. Believing survivors says nothing about a perpetrator’s innocence or guilt, but it says everything about how we view sexual assault. Believing a survivor can empower them to heal and end the stigma around sexual assault.
You and I are now making it clear to companies that sexual abuse is not acceptable. We are calling out the power structures that are keeping abusers safe and enabling them to abuse. We are vocal on social media and voting with our dollars, more and more likely to stop purchasing from or consuming content from businesses that enable sexual abuse. And these businesses are listening.
It’s not too late to make your voices heard on the recent policy changes proposed by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. The new rules, released by the Department of Education at the end of November, will significantly alter the way colleges, universities and K-12 schools handle sexual assault and harassment allegations.
The past few months have been a groundbreaking time for survivor voices. Sexual assault is being recognized and addressed in places that it never has before, and we are starting to see change happen. However, while most of us aren’t closely involved with Hollywood, politics or media, there are common, public spheres where sexual assault is rampant and needs to be addressed: concerts and music festivals.
Last week, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos addressed a crowd at George Mason University about Title IX. While no particular policy changes were announced during her speech, DeVos did announce that “the era of rule by letter is over”, referring to the Dear Colleague letter of 2011, a document released by the Office for Civil Rights that has since been used as a survivor-centered guideline of initial reform for universities dealing with sexual assault cases. The letter is a reminder to those involved in sexual assault investigations that Title IX law must be adhered to. Under this, the message was clear: take sexual violence on campus seriously. Now, according to DeVos’ speech, that message has become murky at best.
We analyzed her speech and pulled out the instances where rape culture is front and center. Some of them were frighteningly easy to miss – a testament to how embedded rape culture and victim blaming are in our daily lives. (read more)