Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Denim Day '17: Youth Leaders of Color on Ending Rape Culture and Sexual Violence



YMS/WLP leaders Folarin Oguntayo, Ashley Rojas, Deaven Rector & Sidney Onyenachi


On Denim Day, April 26, 2017, 10th-12th grade students from the Women's Leadership Project (WLP) and Young Male Scholars' (YMS) programs at Gardena High School and King Drew Magnet of Medicine and Science conducted sexual assault and sexual harassment prevention workshops with over one hundred and twenty students in health, math, social studies and Advisory classes.  Students discussed the prevalence


of sexual violence and harassment on school campuses and communities, the stereotypes associated with rape and sexual assault victims, and the normalization of violence against women and girls of color in mainstream society. Despite being marginalized in  mainstream media representations of sexual violence victimization (which tend to foreground the experiences and lives of white victims), African American women have some of the highest rates of rape and sexual assault, with nearly 60% of Black girls reporting sexual abuse victimization by the age of eighteen. 

Students engaged in debate about the implications of victim-blaming and victim-shaming for sexual violence victims and survivors, as well as the often fraught issue of giving consent in a relationship.  Speaking as male allies, peer educator leaders from YMS stepped up about male responsibility for being aware that "no means no" and being conscious that sexual violence can happen across gender identity and sexual orientation.  Students were informed about the low rates of reporting among African American women
 
WLP/GHS Gardena on "victim-shaming"
 
 
violence victims, the prevalence of social media predation, cyberbullying and sex trafficking as well as recent examples of sexual harassment in sports, entertainment and politics with high profile offenders like Bill O’Reilly, Donald Trump and Bill Cosby. Students also
Markell and Markease Harris break "coercion vs. consent" down
 
 
underscored the role homophobia and transphobia play in silencing male and LGBTQI sexual violence victims and addressed the lack of safe spaces for male survivors in the dominant culture. The similarities, nuances and pervasiveness of marital rape, date rape, familial rape/incest and statutory rape were also addressed.
 
WLP coordinator Issachar Curbeon and peer educator leaders Sidney Onyenachi, Deaven Rector, Ashley Rojas, Markell and Markease Harris, Jasmine Townsend, Folarin Oguntayo, Zorrie Petrus, Eva Mancias, Lucina Ambriz, Shondrea Wooden, Dawnyai Hardy and Adebayo Ojute did
WLP King-Drew Adebayo, Drea & Dawnyai on queer youth & sexual assault
 
 
an outstanding job of debunking myths and misconceptions about rape culture while educating fellow students about resisting and protecting themselves against sexual violence and sexual harassment.   

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