April 23, 2016

UVM takes a look at rape culture

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Burlington (Apr 12) – “I think survivors know everything” said Leah Lakshimi Piepzna-Samarasinha, keynote speaker for the 11th Annual Dismantling Rape Culture Conference at the University of Vermont.  The DRCC is one-day, university funded conference that looks at rape and sexual violence and way they are perceived and received in our society.  The UVM Women’s Center hosts this free event that is open to people of any and all identities that has hundreds of participants from all over Vermont and surrounding states.

 

Leah Lakshimi PiepznaSamarasinha giving the keynote speech

“We have been told we’re in the wrong neighborhood, dressed wrong, coping wrong” said Piepzna-Samarasinha.  Her speech was the opener for the conference and addressed the way society interacts with victims and blames them for being the victims of violence.  “We’ve been told we’re too black, brown, and angry for the white feminist movement” she said.  Leah also addressed the complicated issue of feminism vs. white feminism and how to acknowledge the differences.

Along with the moving keynote speech that received a standing ovation from the audience, there were over 25 other workshops for participants to attend to explore the culture surrounding rape and sexual violence.

Two UVM undergraduate students, Caroline DeCunzo and Jack Braunstein, lead a workshop titled “Troubling Consent: Toward the Prevention of Rape on Campus” where they lead a discussion surrounding research they did for a class project.  The general consensus of the discussion was that prevention starts with proper sex and consent education for kids.

One conference participant in the audience said “When I speak to my kids about this they ask ‘why do you keep talking to us about this’ and I say, ‘because I’m your mother and I’m supposed to teach you about this’”.  Her statement then prompted a discussion around the parent role in how to educate children on sex and consent.

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