COLUMN: Sexual misconduct happens in ways large and small; the women at CMU must demand it stop
As a woman at Central Michigan University, I can say on more than one occasion I’ve felt uncomfortable or harassed by men.
Many of us feel that way. Because it happens so frequently, we don’t often share our stories of harassment and sometimes, assault.
These are my experiences as a woman and college student.
As a 20 year old, I have been made to feel like I “owe” a guy something.
When I’ve walked down the street or into a store, I’ve felt eyes staring through me. This summer during my internship, I did an interview with a source who was an older man, who was more interested in asking about my personal life than about the story.
When women are at a party with our friends, or at a concert, we expect the uncomfortable moment to come when a guy comes up behind us and feels like its OK to invade our space or touch us. At a recent concert, I was holding onto my boyfriend, when a guy proceeded to walk up, see me with him, and still harassed me.
Men touch you without your consent. They think it’s OK to proposition you, a total stranger.
As we began to discuss our coverage this week, a few other women at Central Michigan Life shared their uncomfortable experiences. These are their experiences:
- Groped in line at an amusement park
- A man followed her around at a party and continually flirted with her and her three roommates after they expressed they were not interested
- Whistled at walking alone at night by a group of intoxicated men
- Groped underwater while swimming in a lake
These offenses are big and small. They are all inappropriate. These behaviors make women feel extremely uncomfortable.
Some men think its OK when they find someone attractive to stare at them like a piece of meat.
It’s diminishing. It’s uncomfortable.
It’s not OK.
But women deal with it.
Every. Single. Day.
Women can say "No" at any point — in bed, on the street, anywhere. Men need to understand and respect that. As our generation changes into more of a “hookup” culture and less of a relationship-driven one, men need to understand that not all women are comfortable with being treated like a "hookup."
This is not unique to CMU. This is part of life being a female student on a college campus.
We shouldn’t have to wait to talk about these things – consent, decency, respect – until someone gets sexually assaulted.
Every year, at least two women come to the CM Life office to tell us about being sexually harassed or assaulted on this campus. Last year, we heard the stories of two women who had date-rape drugs put in their drinks when they were out at local bars and at parties.
Not every one of these stories is published, not all survivors want to share their stories. Many women simply don't feel comfortable coming forward. That’s why talking about this as a openly and honestly as possible is so important.
Men, we know you’re not terrible. We know that most of you are good people. We also know some of this behavior might be youth and inexperience, but the decisions you make toward women can live on with us, forever.
You are not entitled to our bodies.
You’re not entitled to touch us.
You are not entitled to say lewd things to us.
At CMU, we need more education on how to respect each other. We need more than one presentation, No Zebras, which is geared toward freshmen.
Education will lead to action and solution.
We need to stop accepting these offenses aimed at women as the “norm” and call them out for what they really are — inappropriate and unacceptable.
It's time for a change.