Joking about sexual assault is deplorable

Kate Rehwinkel

The topic of this column is a serious one that should not be taken lightly.

I hate when I hear men crack jokes about sexual harassment. Recently I have heard quite a few men making jokes about the man who grabbed women’s buttocks earlier this month on campus. I am here to say that making jokes about sexual harassment is not okay, nor should we tolerate it.

If guys are not told that those jokes are offensive and rude right after they say it, then they are going to think it is OK and they will keep doing it. When guys make those types of jokes or comments they have no idea if someone close by has been a victim of harassment or assault and that those words can cause the victim to panic and feel traumatized all over again.

I know from experience because I was raped when I was 20 and it was the hardest thing I have gone through. I am open about it now, but it is not something you get over within a few months. Heck, I am still trying to cope with it now and it has been over a year.

I am opening up about my experience now because I want people to know what victims go through. Many are afraid to confide in people or report their assaults to the police. Victims I have spoken to have said what they want most is to be able to talk to others who have gone through it and understand how they feel. That is why I believe the university should offer group counseling for victims of assault and harassment.

This group could help victims find different ways of coping and let them have a safe place to talk about what happened and without judgement. Most importantly, counseling helps create a support system for people so they know they are not alone. If I had known about a counseling group when it happened to me, I would have gone in a heartbeat because I never had a friend who went through what I did so I suffered alone.

I never want another person to go through what I went through and have no one to turn to as a support system on campus. I suggested group counseling over a one on one type because of the bonds that can be made within a group of survivors. There is power in numbers.

I urge Eastern to think about having this type of counseling available to students because I know I am not the only person on campus that has had this happen to them.

And those men who were joking about sexual assault: Would you be making those jokes around your sister or your female friends or classmates? Would you laugh if someone spoke like that around your girlfriend? If not, then stop making jokes about sexual harassment. Remember that anyone within earshot could be a victim. So stop. Just stop.


Kate Rehwinkel is a senior management major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or at kerehwinkel@eiu.