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Dear Reader: Sexual violence take

(Photo Courtesy of Mihai Surdu via Unsplash) “The #MeToo movement sometimes stands as short hand for the impact of sexual violence.”

Alex Decato-Roed
Connector Editor

There is a culture of silence in the man box or guy code. Us men see violence but refuse to speak up because we are afraid of being outcasts or of violence being used against us if we step outside the man box. 

We already know men are violent and us men learn to be silent as we witness acts of cruelty on others. We learn to be silent when hearing sexist comments or witness other men harass women. We are silent when we hear about cruel fraternity practices, and we are silent when we hear men have committed sexual assaults. This culture of silence supports a culture of protection, shielding criminals from responsibility and belittling victims. 

I have seen this behavior in music venues, bars and walking around campus. The community needs to be conscious of how we perpetuate a culture of silence. For example, Out of the Blue Gallery manager and The Middle East co-owner were accused of sexual assault. These are abuses of power, and it signals to women and people with diverse gender experiences they are not welcome or safe in these spaces. 

Sexual assault stems from the entitlement men think they deserve. When you ignore consent, you act entitled to a person’s body. Victim-blaming with questions such as “what was she wearing?” or “were they flirting?” insinuates the perpetrator was entitled to the victim’s body. 

The MeToo movement, started by black activist Tarana Burke in 1997, exposed culturally engrained white male entitlement and supported the survivors of assault. The movement showed how communities are silent and protect men. It shows that accountability requires tens, even hundreds of survivors, to come forward when it should only be one. 

If you are thinking to yourself, “I’m not like that,”  think about what you would do if your male friends or teammates assaulted someone in front of you? Would you walk away? Would you call the police or intervene? It is easy to self-congratulate turning your back on the behavior, but withdrawing support only reinforces the conduct. 

The dangerous mentality of the culture of silence, protection and entitlement prevent us from having healthy discussions about consent and sexual misconduct. It stops us from creating ways to combat sexual assault. If we want to have a campus and community free of sexual violence, we must dismantle the beliefs that anyone is entitled to sex.

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