Sexual assault is national news, but it occasionally seems to be national news in separate silos. We hear about sexual violence in the military, then about it on college campuses. These are treated as separate issues, rather than two microcosms of the same problem.
That’s why a new campaign launched by the White House today is so important. It’s called “It’s On Us,” and reflects the shared burden of sexual assault that needs to be our national narrative.
From the website for the campaign, itsonus.org:
“It’s on us:
To RECOGNIZE that non-consensual sex is sexual assault.
To IDENTIFY situations in which sexual assault may occur.
To INTERVENE in situations where consent has not or cannot be given.
To CREATE an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported.”
The narrative in every environment in America — from the military to college campuses, from small towns to cities — is too often muddled by claims about how much women should drink, how they should dress, or that false rape claims are something more than extraordinarily rare.
It’s a perspective everyone needs to embrace, including the military, and the right folks are already seemingly picking it up. The Department of Defense Facebook page shared it this morning.
The campaign is reminiscent to a performance art piece by Columbia University student Emma Sulkowicz, herself one of the countless victims of sexual assault on college campuses. Sulkowicz has pledged to carry her mattress with her everywhere on campus for however long her rapist is allowed to be in school with her.
The wonderful brilliance of Sulkowicz’ protest is that she can’t ask anyone to help her lug the mattress around campus, but if people volunteer to help, she can accept it.
America needs a national initiative that reflects this sentiment. Let’s not tolerate victim-blaming or rape jokes, and let’s never push survivors of rape or sexual assault into the periphery.
It’s on us.