People left with a new perspective on boots Thursday morning after attending the Third Annual Diversity Symposium at Weber State.
That’s right. Boots. During his speech, “Preventing Sexual Assault: Leaving the Sidelines of Silence,” key-note speaker Ted Bunch talked about how his daughter would put men’s boots on her doormat to feel safer from sexual assault on campus.
“We talk to our girls all the time about risk reduction. Watch what you drink, walk home with someone, and all those things,” stated the co-founder of the A Call to Men organization during his presentation. “But with our boys, we don’t really talk about it because we don’t worry about it. So we’ve always put the responsibility on girls to be safer, but not on boys to be respectful.”
According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted during their college experience. Likewise, more than 90% of victims on college campuses do not report the sexual assault or rape.
Weber State University President Charles A. Wight said that this is a growing problem, not just locally, but nationally.
“Sexual assault is a huge problem on campuses, including Weber State. It is not a huge problem here, but it is a problem where we as colleges and universities have been on the sidelines for far too long,” Wight said during the symposium.
The symposium brought to light several topics such as rape culture on campuses and the issue of victim and bystander silence when it comes to sexual assault.
Bunch’s primary call to action revolved around putting an end to sexual assault and victim blaming by telling young men to take responsibility and get involved.
“Sexual assault is treated as a women’s issue. We (men) have to make it our issue too, and we have to become part of the solution,” he said.
During his speech, Bunch emphasized the skewed view on the socialization of manhood. He stated that the previous generations of men have taught the younger generations of men to live inside what he calls the “man box.”
According to Bunch, the “man box” is a socially designed construct that encompasses certain standards of manhood that communities now embrace as societal norms.
The keynote speaker stated that this “man box” contributes to campus rape culture because it has taught young men to objectify women.
Safe@Weber men’s engagement coordinator, Chibuike Chikere-Njoku, said that advancements in technology and the preconceived standards of manhood has also amplified the existing rape culture on campus.
“This (sexual assault) is an ongoing problem for a long time and we don’t realize how bad it is because we as men, even myself, we put ourselves in this box,” said Chikere-Njoku.
Along with Bunch, Chikere-Njoku is also giving a call to action to students on campus to end sexual assault by destroying the stereotypes assigned to both men and women.
Chikere-Njoku said that one way to solve this ongoing problem is to start redefining the standards of manhood for not only students in college, but for the younger generations as well.
“As much as we are trying to focus on men who are already matured, we also need to focus on the young boys because they are the ones who are growing up, and the earlier we can influence them positively the better it will be for the future generation,” Chikere-Njoku said, “I believe change is possible. It is a long process, but it is something that has to be done, and someone has to start it.”