No kit, no justice: sexual assault in college campuses

Picture your best friend, your sister, your mother, niece, daughter, girlfriend, wife, or any other female that is close to you.  One day, this person you hold dear was out with some friends at a local bar where she met this handsome guy.  They chatted, had a little too much to drink, and ended up going back to his place to eat some pizza and watch some Netflix.  Well, that’s what he said they were going to do, anyways.

Then, something happened to this woman that happens way too often on college campuses.  She was sexually assaulted by this handsome, charming man from the bar.  The next morning she sneaks out and heads home to be comforted by her friends.  Of course, they tell her to go straight to the hospital to get checked out and tested.  The local hospital informs her that they do not provide rape kits which leaves her with no choice but to go home, try to forget it happened, and hope that she would never see that man again.

The harsh reality of sexual assault.

The harsh reality of sexual assault.

A Not-So-Innocent College Town
Sexual Assault has become way too common on college campuses.  A CNN article stated that 23% of college women reported that they’ve experienced unwanted sexual contact.  Those statistics rose when surveys discovered that 34% of female seniors at University of Michigan, 32% at Yale and 29% at Harvard all reported that they experience unconsensual sex during their four years.

In rural Farmville, Virginia, where I attend Longwood University, the sexual assault reports are being filed throughout the year.  So what is a victim to do after they have been assaulted?  The first step is to get tested using a rape kit immediately because the results of the test can prove the trauma and provide evidence to prosecute the perpetrator.  Unfortunately, Longwood’s students and Farmville locals do not have this resource in Farmville.  The closest hospitals that provide rape kits are in Richmond and Lynchburg which are both over an hour away.

Centra Southside Community Hospital is just a ten minute walk from Longwood’s campus and yet, they do not provide the necessary resources to treat sexual assault victims.  Longwood University’s school newspaper, The Rotunda,  reported on lack of rape kits and stated, “The rape kits were eliminated from Centra Southside after the hospital had to get rid of the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program due to insufficient funding for the program.”

Later in the article, the head of Longwood’s Police Department, Chief Beach, explained that they have been dealing with more sexual assault cases recently than in the past couple of years.  Shortly after this article was released, Longwood students created a petition to bring rape kits back to the local hospital, however, there are still no kits available at Centra Southside.

Centra Southside needs to rework their funds and find a way to provide this necessary resource to students and locals of Farmville.  How can a hospital  so close to a college campus not provide treatment for sexual assault victims?  Chief Beech confirmed the rise of sexual assault cases and the CNN statistics prove this is happening on all campuses.  These victims could be someone close to you.

Where Does It All Start?
The CNN article clearly points out that sexual assault is a huge issue on college campuses.  In the textbook titled Gendered Lives,  author Julia T. Wood explains the concept called “rape culture.”  This term is one of the reasons rape has become so common on college campuses.  It’s the idea that though woman say “no” to sexual interactions, it means they are saying “yes,” woman enjoy rape because it fulfills sexual fantasies, or that mean just can’t seem to control themselves once they are aroused.  

For instance, a girl is hanging out with a guy and things start to get physical.  Before it goes a little too far, the girl says no but the guy takes it as a joke or doesn’t think she really wants him to get off of her.  These ideas we have about sexual contact and that “no” doesn’t really mean “no” is an example of “rape culture.”

Another idea the book discusses is called “blaming the victim,” which means that people blame the victim and say it was “her fault” because she was wearing this short skirt or because she left the party with him.  Kinda twisted, isn’t it?

To stop those from getting raped, we need to stop raping.

To stop those from getting raped, we need to stop raping.

These are assumptions that men and woman have about sexual interaction which leads them to force sex on others because in their mind, the other person actually wants it.   For example, there’s a popular article titled Confessions of a Date Rapist  which was written by a man who raped a girl, but didn’t realize it at the time.  He meets a girl at the bar and convinces her to go home with him.  Before he admitted he raped her, he rationalized his behavior by thinking:

“She deserved it.  If she was gullible enough to fall for that line, then I am not responsible for what happened.”  

He also explained that her agreeing to leave the bar with him automatically meant she agreed to have sex with him.  It sounds ludicrous when you read it, but it’s these types of thought processes that occur every day and leave thousands of women as rape victims.

How To Make College Campuses Safe Again
It’s obvious that this is an issue that is continuing to rise.  We need to control the way we think and how we view sexual interactions we have with others.  Just because someone is wearing a revealing top, doesn’t mean they want to have sex.  If we control the way we think and teach our children how to respect others, then we could minimize the number of young girls and women that are being assaulted every day.  However, we all know this isn’t going to happen over night, therefore, we must provide resources and treatment for those victims, especially if they are in college where the risk of assault is so high.

Remember, this is an issue we can all speak up about.  It’s a problem world-wide, not just on college campuses.  These victims are or could be your friends and family.  Let’s provide the resources in a convenient way for the victims and make further steps to end sexual assault.

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Oh no! Barbie’s dress doesn’t fit – We couldn’t be happier.

We all know the struggle of breaking a sweat while we struggle to put on our favorite pair of tight, skinny jeans.  The little dance we do to try and wiggle our body parts into place is all too familiar.  Once you’ve pulled them up, you think you’ve reached the finish line but the fight isn’t over.  The pants won’t button…

Women tend to freak out when their clothes don’t fit, whether they are too loose or too tight.  Barbie has recently experienced this, but our freak out couldn’t be more positive.  After years of criticism due to her unrealistic body figure, Barbie has finally reached several realistic body shapes that girls from around the world can identify with (sigh of relief).  But wait, it gets better.  Barbie has also become diverse in her hobbies and careers where she has been seen as a fire fighter and film director.  It looks like Barbie is finally breaking down the wall of what a typical or ideal girl should look like.

Welcoming the Barbies of 2016

“Barbie was created ‘to teach women
what—for better or worse—is expected of them in society.'”

New year, new Barbie
Since 1959, little girls have been trying to live up to this unrealistic doll.  This iconic doll has been a role model for many young girls around the world.  When the doll first came out, Mickey Mouse. M.G. Lord, a Barbie biographer, explained that Barbie was created “to teach women what—for better or worse—is expected of them in society.”  Have you ever looked at the original Barbie?  There’s no way any human could live up to those expectations.  That’s why this change is so important because now, girls can have realistic role model to look up to.

TIME came out with an article that debuted the new look which stated, “The company hopes that the new dolls, with their diverse body types, along with the new skin tones and hair textures introduced last year, will more closely reflect their young owners’ world.”  I couldn’t agree more.

Growing Up with Little Pink Dresses and Bows
As we grow up, our parents teach us how we should behave depending on our gender.  In Julia T. Wood’s  book “Gendered Lives,” she explains what it means to grow up feminine.  One of her main ideas is “appearance still counts,” which explains how women always have a certain look they have to live up to.  She goes on to explain that women are told and encouraged to be pretty, skinny, and well dressed in order to be desirable.  For example, when I grew up, my mother always told me to make time for myself every morning to get up and do my hair and makeup no matter how busy I am.  She was reinforcing the idea to me that appearance still counts.

The Old and the New

The Old and the New

Some may believe that dolls can’t have that much of an influence on young girls, the study below explains otherwise.   A study conducted by Dittmar, Halliwell, and Ive explored whether the exposure of Barbie dolls on girls makes them want to be thin.  The study found that the girls who were exposed to Barbie dolls showed damage in their body image due to the unrealistic body shape of the doll.  We’ve been setting these expectations and damaging little girls self-esteem for years due to these dolls.  How awful is that?  And we haven’t been taking notice until now.  That’s why this change is such a huge turning point for our society.

Barbies and Gender Norms
I couldn’t be happier with the changes barbie is making.  Their dolls are all shapes, sizes, and colors now.  What’s even crazier is that they even have Barbies that wear flat shoes, not heels!  I’ve already explained how dolls can have such a huge impact on young girl’s self-esteem.  The company took the criticism they received about their product and changed it in order to best fit their consumers.

Think about all the products out there that might harm its users.  If more companies took the initiative that Barbie’s creators did, then we would have more products that promote a better self-image for the users.  Let’s not forget that they have also come out with the firefighter and movie director themed Barbies.  These career paths, in addition to the new body shapes, break those gender norms that the original Barbie has promoted in the past and show society that diversity is beautiful.  If this billion dollar brand can change their path to fit our society, why can’t others?  It’s time to break the habit and start tearing down those gender norms of what an “ideal” woman should look like.

Check out this video which explains the process of redefining Barbie!


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All about me, myself, and I

Hello everyone!

A typical girl? There's more to me than curled hair and fancy clothes.

A typical girl? There’s more to me than curled hair and fancy clothes.

My name is Madison Miller, I’m from Virginia Beach, VA,  and I am a proud Lancer at Longwood University!  I am a senior majoring in Communication Studies with a concentration in organizational communications and public relations.  As a freshman, I came to realize that Longwood students are very involved and as a result, I starting join some organizations on campus.  In spring 2013, I joined Alpha Delta Pi where I held three positions.  In my junior year I became a part of the Communication Honor Society, Lambda Pi Eta where I currently serve as the Scholarship Chair.  Through my courses and involvements, I have grown to love the Communication department and have found an interest in the PR field working with social media and event coordination.  Both my courses and these organizations have shaped me into the student I am today and have helped me prepare myself for the real world.

Recently I have gained a lot of experience in the field of communication studies.  As I mentioned above, I am interested in working in the PR field or event planning.  This past summer I was able to get my feet wet in both of those fields during my internship at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA).  For my internship I worked with the PR and Marketing Specialist and took on several tasks where I advertised the museums events, created pamphlets, and kept their social media and website up-to-date.  I also had the opportunity to work with the Special Events Coordinator where I helped set up and execute events help within the museum.  At the end of my internship I was offered to come on as a full-time employee and began the work for a new position they were creating for the museum.  This experience, along with the lessons I’ve learned in my courses, has taught me how to work with others in a team, how to professionally communicate with other businesses, and how to be adaptive.  The skills I gained through that internship will help me tremendously in my future career endeavors.

Gender is addressed every day.  It could be as simple as labeling toys as girl or boy appropriate, to how you should dress.  The concept of gender and how it is socially constructed was introduced to me in my Sociology 101 class.  Since introduced to this topic, I have become more aware of how our society creates these images of how one should act, dress, etc., based on their sex.  I have personally experienced this pressure from society.  For example, when I go to the gym, I don’t like to lift weights if there are men around because society has planted the idea in our heads that women shouldn’t be lifting or that they shouldn’t have muscle definition.  Well I hate to let you down society, but I like to lift and squat because I like to have muscle definition.  If that isn’t what girls are supposed to do, then I guess I don’t fit that label.  With this class, I hope to learn more about how we can break down these gender roles.  In addition, since I plan to go into the communication field, I hope to learn how to shape messages in a way that don’t narrow down a specific gender or neglect to acknowledge the different identities people hold.  I’m really looking forward to this class and all the discussions yet to come!

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