Changing the culture around rape

Bex Baggett

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and the Women’s Center is finding ways to involve students in prevention efforts.

The month of April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. (Weber State University)
The month of April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Photo credit: Weber State University

This week’s event was the screening of “The Bystander Moment: Transforming Rape Culture at its Roots.” The event took place on April 11 at noon in the Women’s Center. The film highlights some of the complexities of rhetoric and language surround rape culture, such as victim blaming and sexual harassment, and how the audience’s gender influences messaging about sexual assault.

One of takeaways from the film is shifting the focus to prevention and bystander action.

“We do a lot of work that focuses on response, which is very important and life-saving work, but this year we decided to also do a prevention event so we can teach folks, ‘This is how you can hold other people accountable, this is how you can educate yourself on these issues, and this is how you can help if you see something that’s going on,’ because that’s a small way we can get folks to get involved and hopefully prevent violence from happening,” Madeline Cooper, violence prevention coordinator, said.

The current status of sex education in Utah was also brought up during student discussion. An article published in the Guardian in February 2021 states, “Utah rejects bill that aimed to teach consent in sex education classes.”

Sexual Assault Awareness Month logo found on the campus page. (Weber State University)
The Sexual Assault Awareness Month logo, found on the campus page, says, “Believe and support survivors.” Photo credit: Weber State University

Additionally, sexual violence is not uncommon in Utah. The Federal Bureau of Investigation in November 2021 stated, “The rape rate in Utah has been consistently higher than the U.S. rate.”

Education and resources are available at the Women’s Center.

“There is a stigma attached to sex in general, and when there’s a stigma attached to sex in general and folks don’t talk about it, then they’re probably not going to talk about sexual violence or lack of consent,” Cooper said.

The Women’s Center offers workshops that can be requested as well as online trainings that are available through the Weber Portal under Safe@Weber. Those who wish to see the film but were unable to attend the event can watch by logging into with their Weber credentials.

WSU Sexual Assault Awareness Month will wrap up with Denim Day on April 27.