On a freezing Saturday in downtown Athens, dozens of people began to gather. In the midst of the regular weekend bar crowd the voices of a hundred protesters could be heard up College Avenue and across North Campus. The diverse group had come together to advocate for a future where sexual assault isn’t pushed under the rug, and society doesn’t turn a blind eye to rape culture.
Included in this group were members of Athens for Everyone, UGA’s WSSO and FSA, college students, and residents of Athens, all of whom had heard and come to protest a despicable display of rape apologists who were rumored to be convening at The Arch on February 6th. What began in outrage transformed into a beautiful display of support and solidarity. Survivors told their stories, chants of “Yes Means Yes!” were shouted through the streets, and candles were uplifted in honor of all of the victims and survivors of sexual violence.
One of the unique aspects of this event was when men like Adam Lassila stood up to proclaim “this can’t be called a women’s issue, when it’s men’s behavior that has to change”, and “way too many men either excuse this behavior or stand silent in the face of it.” It can no longer be permissible for men to stand by as those around them speak of women in terms of conquests, and themselves as the victors who have conquered them.
What is evident, as Athens for Everyone Vice President Laura Briggs said through the bullhorn that night is “there are more of us than there are of them!” Perpetrators and apologists of sexual assault can no longer hide behind “boys being boys” or claim that someone’s clothes or demeanor or smile mean they were asking for it.
The rally last Saturday can be a defining moment in Athens’ fight against sexual assault and the culture that permits it, as long as we don’t allow that moment to pass us by.
Please join us at the the next Athens Sexual Assault Prevention (ASAP) meeting where we will plan out the next step in creating a culture of consent in our own community and beyond.
February 10, 2016
The Consent Culture Now! rally took place on Saturday, February 6th at the UGA Arch
The next ASAP meeting will take place on:
Thursday, February 18th, 7pm
Athens for Everyone Office
159 Oneta St, Unit 4, Ste 10, Athens, Georgia 30601
For more information please contact Laura Briggs at LauraElisabethBriggs@gmail.com