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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Women and men both play vital role in gender equality

While waiting in line for my hourly cup of coffee, I overheard the conversation between two young men in front of me, wearing cut-off sleeve shirts, one of them ironically wearing an “”I Heart Boobies”” wristband. One guy said to the other, “”Man, I wish they’d stop shouting ‘Chocolate vaginas’ outside. It’s like, really?”” The other guy snickered, “”Yeah man, like, you don’t see us selling chocolate penises out on the mall.”” He then ordered a fancy espresso beverage and proceeded on with his Beavis-like chuckling.

As I step onto my feminist soapbox, it’s hard to ignore these situations. It’s difficult to ignore situations when causes, like the Vagina Warriors, are meant to spread awareness of women’s issues and get rhetorically dismantled by individuals who laugh at them. I wonder if they had stopped to see exactly why “”chocolate vaginas”” were being shouted outside. They would have learned about a beautiful movement happening on our campus to end violence against women.

It’s not to place vaginas on a pedestal, but to end the comical undertone of a word that means more when placed in a social context.

Each year, the UA Vagina Warriors puts on a production of Eve Ensler’s “”The Vagina Monologues”” to offer theatrical activism to women on our campus and in our Tucson community. These monologues tell the stories of women from around the globe and depict real narratives of what women face in areas clouded by injustice.

The Vagina Warriors on our campus raise funds annually to benefit the OASIS Center, which helps provide counseling support for survivors of relationship abuse and violence, as well as funds for the V-Day Movement itself. This year’s V-Day Spotlight is in honor of Myriam Merlet, a feminist activist who died in the earthquake in Haiti last year. The message to be heard is to find strength in Merlet’s memory, to continue to empower each other in this movement.

An overlooked concept of the women’s movement is how it affects our campuses directly. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to connect the two. According to a study last year by the New York University Student Health Center, one in five women are raped while they’re in college. The same study also states that one in 12 college men admitted to committing acts that met the legal definition of rape.

If those simple statistics don’t shake you, it’s apparent that misunderstanding has blurred our awareness of the reality we live in. You should be asking: Where are the men in women’s movements?

Not to put pressure on those men I overheard, but maybe selling chocolate penises on the mall to raise awareness of this statistic may actually be a good idea for the men who do respect all women and individuals, not only to raise awareness of abuse against women, but for men too.

According to statistics on our very own OASIS Center’s website, between one in six and one in ten males are sexually assaulted. It doesn’t matter the sex or gender. When looking up these statistics for college students, it’s of no surprise that alcohol is a reoccurring factor in these crimes. Let’s be smart, ya’ll, both women and men.

The mobilization of men is a vital and necessary component to raise awareness for an issue that affects the entire campus community. Making rape only a “”girl thing”” excludes the underlying truth of violence occuring to men as well.

As I step off my soapbox, I hope the testosterone level rises at the UA’s “”Vagina Monologues”” performances this semester. We’ve got to cross the gender borders and unite for a campus-wide fight to end violence. Keep the globe in mind and find a way to send positivity. We’ve got to support our campus organizations that grab our attention to pay mind to these issues, even if that means shouting out “”vagina”” at the top of our lungs.

— Elisa Meza is a junior studying English. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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