On Thursday evening in the Reynolds Center, in front of a crowd of students from the athletic and Greek Life communities, Jeffrey Bucholtz gave a talk on the topic of sexual violence. The talk was part of SAVE and Advocacy Alliance’s Consent Week.
He represents a group called We End Violence, which offers a variety of educational services to groups of all kinds, from college students to soldiers. The group’s goal is to educate the public on bystander intervention, preventing sexual violence and how we all can make a difference in the fight to end violence.
“Where did you learn what good sex is?” Bucholtz asked the crowd of students in front of him. Answers came back: family, porn, friends’ claims, porn, movies, TV shows and porn. “The average age men in America are first exposed to porn is 11,” said Bucholtz.
He also told students that there are studies proving that the more porn one views, the more likely one is to be dissatisfied with sex in real life. This image of what sex is creates a large problem for those looking for real information about it. Americans are now growing up with a warped view of what sex should be and how to go about obtaining it.
The speaker said a huge part of the issue is that the media (movies, shows and music videos) present sex as something for which one cannot plan. It’s supposed to be “spontaneous, hot, steamy” and is sold as something that is out of one’s control. Bucholtz played popular songs such as “Animals” by Maroon 5 and “Every Move You Make” by the Police and analyzed the lyrics to show that popular culture promotes stalking behavior. Often, love is presented as something one is addicted to.
But the issue is, according to Bucholtz, that an addict can never enjoy what she’s addicted to because, by definition, she can never get enough of it. And that is not a healthy representation of love or sex. He also said that assault is a quite a considerable problem on campuses around the country because of the ambiguity of nonverbal language. Many times, people don’t verbalize their intentions, looking instead for body language cues that someone is interested in them and assuming they know what these “signals” indicate.
Bucholtz went so far as to say that the idea of “no means no” is not a good way to think about consent because it implies that someone is required to say no (i.e. one has consent by default). Bystander intervention, in his words, is about “changing the culture we live in.”
We End Violence wants people to understand that rapists think that other people think exactly like they do. As long as people sing the classic refrain of “I’m not a rapist; it’s not my problem,” it sends the rapists the message that nobody is standing against them. Apathy signals acceptance.
“Everybody can do something and collectively, it will add up,” stated Bucholtz. From telling that guy at the club that the girl really just is not interested in him to telling a rape victim “I believe you,” everybody has the power to stand for what’s right.