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Bronx Denim Day Op-Ed Contest Winner

Bronx Denim Day Op-Ed Contest Winner

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Published by Scott M. Stringer
Bronx Denim Day Op-Ed Contest Winner
Bronx Denim Day Op-Ed Contest Winner

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Published by: Scott M. Stringer on Apr 23, 2013
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04/23/2013

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Bronx Winner: Shabel Castro, Lehman College
“If you dress provocatively, you are asking to be a target. If you want to be showing your body off then you have to be prepared to deal with the consequences.” A fellow student said these words during an intro criminology class I took last semester. As always we began class by speaking about a current event.On that class day, the hot topic ended up being sexual assault and the role the victimhas in such crimes. I was excited to see how the conversation would develop being thatmy class was predominantly made up of women. I thought this would offer aninteresting perspective. I expected the conversation to be one of female empowermentwhere the culture of rape would be challenged.To my surprise, the class discussion would become extremely heated, filled withpassion and strong declarations. What would be most shocking is that such declarationswould shed light on victim blaming and how we as college students often further promote the idea that the victim is to blame.Students expressed how while rape is always a terrifying, horrible, and disgusting act itis often somehow caused by the victim whether it is the way they dress, speak, or present themselves. One student in the class spoke about women that go to clubs anddress in a provocative manner. She expressed her anger about why these women getdressed the way they do and then get upset when a man touches them or tries to speakwith them. Many of the other students in the class agreed and expressed how somewomen purposely seek attention and if this attention goes to an extreme where their rights are violated, this is unfortunate, but expected.Listening to all of these comments I became extremely upset. It was then when Irealized how powerful victim blaming could be.Why is it that when we hear about a sexual assault case the first thing we ask is howwas the victim dressed? How did they present themselves? What did they say?It appears that in many cases, focusing on these factors makes it easier for us tounderstand and cope with rape and sexual assault. It is scary to think that anyone canbe a target, that even if you dress in a way that you believe is appropriate you can beabused. That somehow, no matter how you represent yourself, your personal humanrights can be violated.This is hard for us to accept because it forces us to think about rape beyond anindividual level and more on a social level. It challenges us to think about other factorsthat somehow influence the way we think about sex, rape, consent, and abuse.So we take the easy route. We try to view these horrific cases on an individual level andask ourselves what did that individual do to provoke the situation. We refuse to

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