nonjudgmental places to speak honestly about sexual violence

Young women are turning to social media in search of nonjudgmental places to speak honestly about sexual violence in their daily lives.

summary of article by Katie Collins

April 9, 2021 AD

https://www.cnet.com/news/teen-girls-seek-out-safe-spaces-online-in-thei...

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the harassments count - drop finger tiktok

holding up 10 fingers, which then fall quick-fire like dominoes, as they document the various ways in which they've been harassed by boys and men.

"Received unsolicited dick pics." A finger falls. "Been begged for nudes." Another follows. "Been catcalled. Been followed. Been repeatedly asked out after you already said no." Before they know it, they've lost a hand.

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UK research march 2021

97% of young women surveyed said they can recall being sexually harassed.

they may have become impossible to ignore.

more inquiry

In the UK, this chorus of online voices led the Department for Education to announce last week, at the beginning of Sexual Assault Awareness Month:

- an urgent inquiry into sexual abuse in the country's schools

to be conducted by government watchdog Ofsted, or the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills

sparking the inquiry

amore than *** 10,000 anonymous testimonies *** published by

Everyone's Invited, a website and Instagram page started by 22-year-old London university student Soma Sara last June

exposing 'rape culture':

- the concept that sexual violence is prevalent and normalized in certain settings &
in UK schools

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since late March, Everyone's Invited has stopped publishing the names of schools

(along with testimonies). It was a decision, said Sara, based on unproductive finger-pointing that was emerging and distracting from a ** broader push *** toward solutions. 

It was important to Sara that the narrative not become too narrow, when the problem she is addressing is a *** global one ***.

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for so long society has been gaslighting women, *** telling us that these things aren't bad ***, said Grant.

harassment, assault and rape aren't incidents that occur in isolation. They're part of a pattern of behavior that exists within a culture of misogyny that allows boys to do as they please and gives girls little recourse to challenge those behaviors. What's more, those seemingly small things can have a lasting impact on shaping women's experiences of existing in the world.

"It's really important to emphasize that the more seemingly-less-severe behaviors -- the small things -- can actually have a very traumatizing and enormously scarring effect on a person," said Sara

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spaces without persecution

like Everyone's Invited

Grant said with a sigh. "I never realized how terrible it was until I started talking about it and started hearing other women's stories and creating *** spaces *** like that for myself, where we can share openly and honestly and without persecution."

moderating her space

What she won't stand for is men in her comments invalidating the experiences of other women who have replied to her with their own stories of assault or harassment.

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looking for safety
on web instead of school

Many girls are turning to the internet in search of safety precisely because they have failed to find it in a place they hope to be protected: school. On TikTok, Americans have been talking widely about a phenomenon that they experienced in middle school hallways across the country known as "slap ass Friday" and, more specifically, why no one stopped it from happening. 

...

I've gone from little girl who can't walk to the bathroom by herself to young woman who has to protect her own body," Grant said.

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1993

Back in 1993, Nan Stein, a senior research scientist at the Wellesley Centers for Women, was interviewed for a New York Times article in which she described how sexual harassment was "commonplace" and "part of the daily fabric of school life."

Almost 30 years later, she's still working to make schools safer for girls. In an interview with CNET, she described the work Everyone's Invited is doing as "very impressive," but found the conclusions "very troubling." 

2005

2005, Stein noticed that sexual harassment in school was trending toward becoming more physically violent and happening to younger and younger students. She followed what was happening based on the lawsuits that were filed against schools.

2017-2018

youngest & metoo

Anecdotal evidence from the girls duetting Grant's video also suggests it's not uncommon for this and other harassment to start young, sometimes before girls even hit puberty.

It's hard to get data on exactly what age sexual harassment starts, said Stein, because official government surveys tend to focus on children aged 12 and over. Plus, young girls can't stage press conferences to talk about their experiences in the way young women have done after being sexually assaulted on college campuses, especially in the wake of the #MeToo movement

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Finding a solution

the government has taken limited action beyond publishing basic guidance in 2018, despite several research reports and legal cases filed against schools.

National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children said that one third of sexual offenses against children were *** committed by other children ***, and described the work done by Everyone's Invited as a "watershed moment." Last week, the NSPCC launched a dedicated helpline

In the UK, there's a sense of cautious optimism that change might be coming. But that doesn't yet seem to be reflected in the US.

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education

Sara would like to see education start young and at home, including conversations around porn, which some children come across while still in elementary school. 

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"It's extraordinary, especially considering how isolated I felt back in June when most people didn't know what rape culture meant, most people didn't even believe it existed," she said. "All you have to do is read those testimonies to understand the scale of the problem."

While it is primarily girls and women coming forward with stories in which the perpetrators are largely boys and men, Sara means it when she says everyone is invited into this discussion. It's important for everyone to examine their own role in silencing girls and protecting boys, she said.

=== eof

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