Founded in 1974, the Women’s Center was established to:
Dismantle, from a feminist perspective, all forms of oppression, including but not limited to those based on ability, age, class, ethnicity, gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Advocate for an equitable environment free from violence and harassment based on gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Create an anti-racist, non-sexist, queer-affirmative space where all people can feel valued and safe.
Facilitate and strengthen connections among people across lines of difference through programming and educational campaigns.
Integrate an appreciation of Women's Gender and Multicultural Studies across the disciplines.

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Test That Raped Me

                It happened last Monday. I was sitting in  Calculus class minding my own business, studying for my quiz, when a classmate of mine walked in and declared loudly and dramatically to the students around me, "Oh my god, guys, that test totally raped me! That was so horrible!" Her comment was immediately met by several eager eye rolls and sympathetic complaints: "Oh man, that chemistry exam was ridiculous, wasn't it?," someone responded. "That stuff definitely wasn't in the book. I had no idea what I was doing," lamented another.
                From the conversation that followed, I deduced that the group of students who sit near me in class come to my math class from the same Chemistry class every day. That day, it seems, they had a particularly difficult exam for which their professor did not prepare them very well, a situation that they were all quite unhappy about. Can I relate to this kind of frustration? Certainly. Is it okay that they complained? Definitely. Would I have complained too? Most likely. The problem here was not the commiserating, but the term that this first girl used to describe her test taking experience: rape. Rape. Rape? Seriously? She couldn't think of a more accurate word?
                I was shocked when I heard her comment, but I was equally baffled when I looked around the class to find that no one else seemed to take notice of what had happened. I may have heard one boy mutter very quietly under his breath, "Gosh, use a different word, won't ya?" but I cannot say for sure. Other than that, nada. Utter silence.
                Later on in the week, while discussing all of this with a coworker, I realized that while I was upset that no one around me said anything to this girl, I hadn't actually stepped up myself. While I certainly disagreed with her inconsiderate, ignorant, and completely nonsensical comment, I hadn't said anything because I didn't know what exactly to say. In response to this, my coworker suggested that next time I hear a similar comment, I respond by exclaiming dramatically, "Oh, I'm so sorry that that test had sexual intercourse with you without your consent! Are you okay? Do you need to talk? I could direct you to counseling services if you would like." and see what that person has to say.  I love this idea. Not only is the response witty, but it more importantly would raise some awareness in the person. It makes it clear how serious and real rape is, and that it is not something to be joked about in such an offensive manner. I will be sure to use the next time I encounter a similar situation, and I hope this story has inspired you to speak up too.  You never know. There may be someone nearby who can't speak up themselves but finds support and encouragement in your bravery. 

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