Every December when I head home on winter break between semesters I have just finished a volleyball season. Whether it was high school, or a U of I volleyball season every December I had at least a little bit of a break. In my house, we watch sports and we especially watch tournaments. From the little league world series, to the Olympics, to March Madness my family always finds time to spend watching sports.
This December, like every December, I was watching the NCAA DI Women’s Volleyball Tournament.When teams get closer and closer to the championship, you start to hear more and more about the coach’s philosophy, history, record, and about how the team got there. This year’s championship game was burned into my mind very clearly for one reason.
Few people know about this amazing woman. Although, many know Cesar Chavez. He, along with Dolores, worked to fight for the basic rights of farm workers in the fields of California. They fought for better work wages and portable restrooms for the workers, as well as fighting for the rights of Farm workers. But Dolores has not been given the credit she deserves. She did as much work as Cesar did. She is the co-founder of the United Farm Workers Association. This is an organization that fights for the rights of farm workers. Before we get to the work she deserves credit for, let’s talk about some history.
I have learned a lot since beginning my stint this semester as Editor of the Women’s Center Blog. This position has put me in contact with many strong, intelligent, kind, and patient, Feminist women.
I place extra emphasis on patient.
Because, I have been on a learning curve, so to speak. I have been getting an education about Feminism and how to interact and exist in this world. I have also been proven wrong. A bunch. Consequently, I have done and said things that were offensive to my feminine colleagues and friends. Patience, on their part, has been valuable to me as I stumbled along.
I spent some time trying to muddle through things on my own. Eventually, I decided to reach out and ask some of these women for their opinions/input regarding two areas:
“What does a Feminist need from a male ally?”
“How can males help in the struggle against Rape Culture?”
Athletics have been known to teach important life lessons that not a lot of kids learn anymore in our current “participation-award” world. Whether it’s not getting enough playing time and having your parents complain to the coach, or complaining because you think you deserve the MVP award at the end of the season. At the collegiate level you are, hopefully, growing up.
It’s unfortunately become one of the many stereotypes of our generation, that we just all want to be winners, but that’s not only ourgeneration. Yes, we may have some sore losers but maybe that’s because we are too easy on our young athletes. Making it to the college level of play as an athlete is a big accomplishment academically and skill wise. The coaches aren’t here to just do what your parents say. I reached out to athletes from Women’s Swimming, Women’s Soccer, and Men’s Golf about personal experiences they’ve had and what they have learned about committing so much time to playing a sport in college.
These are words from a South African protest song written in the 1950’s. Throughout history individuals have been struck physically and emotionally, but society never focuses on the strength it takes these survivors to get back on their feet and become “the rock.” Survivors of sexual assault (women or men) have plenty of horror stories to tell. But, they also have a lot of inspiring, hopeful stories highlighting how one copes and comes through to the other side of these events. I am here to share some of their stories.
I don’t think it’s easy for people to understand how severe news reports of sexual assault, school shootings, and terrorism are. This separation is similar to receiving news about someone you know who broke their leg. You may discuss how unfortunate it is, ask how it happened, and maybe even discuss the potential challenges they will face in the near future. However…
Someone breaking their leg doesn’t rock your world.
Someone breaking their leg will notforce you to lie awake at night.
Someone breaking their leg can heal.
Older generations try to blame this lack of sympathy on violent video games, and our generation’s constant attachment to technology. It’s been said that video games like Call of Duty (COD), that “promote” the use of firearms, or Grand Theft Auto (GTA), which displays multiple forms of physical violence, could be the cause of such numbness.
I’ve heard many people try to blame sexual assault and rape on our generation as well, saying that, “This was never a problem when I was your age.”
Sexual Assault is scary and unfortunately very real in every community across the United States. But it’s annoying when people categorize a certain group to be the only ones that commit these horrible acts. For example, “Mexican are rapists.” Which is not true for all Mexicans. Although comments like these offend people like me, who proudly identifies with being Mexican-American, we (News Flash!) also are affected by sexual assault. I notice too that it is extremely hard for these stereotypes to be broken when people with power have enforced such ideas onto a certain group. Among the many struggles the Latino community faces, rape and assault happen to be one of them.
In the Latino community, it is very common for men to praise other men when they have been with many women. So, this builds the self-esteem of these men when they harass a woman. When a woman does not desire to be with that man, one common thing I have heard is, “She is playing hard to get. She knows she likes it when I bother her!” Hence the terminology, Rape Culture! In an online article, I read about the way rape culture is a “Militarized Culture.” A form of oppression that is used as a weapon to degrade mostly women and it is also the notion that only certain people get raped, because of the way they dress and the way they act. In addition, Rape Culture includes not acknowledging that the men that rape are rapists.