If we can imagine it, we can achieve it. During April’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month and beyond, we ask community members to imagine a world where everyone is treated with respect and dignity, and where sexual violence is unthinkable.
Certainly, sexual violence remains a huge problem in our society impacting each of us and our family, friends and neighbors. To put an end to something this extensive is a bold goal; yet dare to imagine that each of us can make a positive difference.
Sexual assault and harassment do not have to be part of our world. That is because we, as society members, decide what is and is not acceptable. Most of us agree that overt acts of sexual violence are not acceptable. However, less obvious acts get excused as “locker room talk” or “boys being boys” or “just a joke” without acknowledging that normalizing these acts sets the stage for more extreme acts such as stalking, harassment and assault.
It is up to us to shift what is acceptable by refusing to normalize disrespectful, demeaning and harmful behaviors in favor of promoting respect, dignity and empathy. When we stop making excuses for attitudes, behaviors and actions that help perpetuate sexual violence, we can start to make positive change.
Let us hold ourselves and each other accountable to consciously take part in conversations about this issue, to speak out even when it gets uncomfortable and to make real changes in our lives. In other words, let’s not just imagine a world without sexual violence, let’s achieve it.
For more information on how to prevent and respond to sexual assault and harassment, call the Women’s Resource Center of Northern Michigan at 231-347-1572.