Maddy Coles editorial photoMadeleine Coles

Co-Editor in Chief and News Editor

On my very first day at ISU, when I was just a little freshman, I was walking back to my car from my class in Rendezvous when a couple of guys in a truck slowed down, drove up beside me and yelled out the window, “Hey sweetie, do you need a ride?”

I ignored them and began walking a little more quickly, and they drove away. It was early afternoon on a sunny day, and there were plenty of people walking near me. I had no reason to be scared, but I was. I hurried to my car and drove to my apartment, hoping no one was following me.

A few months into my freshman year, my roommate’s boyfriend informed me one night that he had heard a rumor about me. After pressing him, he admitted that he had been told I was “sucking a lot of dick lately.” I learned that a boy who I had refused to have sex with had combatted my rejection of him by informing all of his friends in great detail of our supposed sexual encounters.

By all societal norms, these events shouldn’t have upset me. The boys in the truck were being “funny” and even  “complimentary.” The rumors being spread about me were “locker room talk.”

Boys will be boys.

It didn’t matter whether or not the things he said were true. It didn’t matter that some of his friends aggressively pursued me on social media afterward. It didn’t matter that because of him I had a target on my back labeled “easy” that, I felt, the whole campus could see.

I won’t say that these events set the tone for my experience here at ISU. I have had a wonderful three years at this school, filled with many healthy and fulfilling relationships, both platonic and romantic.

But I will say, with certainty, that you could not find a female on this campus who has never experienced any form of sexual harassment or assault.

To be fair, there’s a very good chance the same can be said about every college campus in the country. There’s a very good chance the same could be said about every high school and workplace. Sexual harassment is so deeply ingrained in our culture that we have accepted it, at least in its mildest forms, as a part of our society. It’s just the way boys are; it’s just the way things work.

It’s time to change the way things work.

Holding awareness weeks and marches and discussions is an excellent first step. But there’s great danger in believing that that’s enough.

The boys in trucks and locker rooms will go to those marches, play sports in teal jerseys and hold their head high with the belief that because they have never held a girl down and forced sex upon her, they’re not the problem.

We need to change the way we think and talk and interact if we truly want this problem to go away. We are finally on the road, but we just started the car. There are still miles to go.

We need to be better. 

We need to do more.

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