“It’s On Us”: Carrying the Weight of Sexual Assault

The Obama Administration has released another Public Service Announcement against sexual assault, this time with the slogan “It’s On Us.”

“To stop sexual assault, to get in the way before it happens, to get a friend home safe, to not blame the victim, to look out for each other, to not look the other way, to stand up, to step in, to take responsibility…”

Their previous star-packed PSA featured the slogan “One is Too Many.” It notably featured an all male roster of celebrities  and  specifically referenced women  as the victims of sexual assault.

“We have a big problem, and we need your help. It’s happening at college campuses, at bars, at parties, even at high schools. It’s happening to our sisters and daughters, our wives and our friends. It’s called sexual assault, and it has to stop…If she doesn’t consent, or if she can’t consent, it’s rape, it’s assault, it’s a crime, it’s wrong…If I saw it happening, I’d never blame her, I’d help her…”

While the efforts that the current administration has put into prioritizing and publicizing the problem of sexual assault is unparalleled, the few critiques I did encounter harped on the exclusion of male and LGBT victims from the earlier PSA. It’s difficult to not connect the  gender-neutral “It’s On Us” campaign directly with these critiques and also with the “weight” metaphor of sexual assault, seen in Columbia student Emma Sulkowicz’s “Carry That Weight” project. Sulkowicz alleges she was raped in her dorm room at Columbia, and is protesting the response by authorities by carrying her dorm room mattress with her around campus. Amy Goodman interviewed her on Democracy Now this week.

Well, in my case, I was raped in my own bed. And, of course, rape can happen anywhere, but for me, it sort of desecrated one of the most intimate and private places of my life. And the way that I’ve brought my story from a place that I keep secret out into the public eye sort of mirrors carrying the mattress itself out into the light for everyone to see. So I felt like it would be an appropriate metaphor.

I will carry the mattress with me to all of my classes, every campus building, for as long as my rapist stays on the same campus with me.

 

-Caterina Gironda, Southern Editor

Credits: Cover image from http://awardperday.wordpress.com/2012/02/29/retrieve/

 

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