Next month is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and April 24th will be Denim Day. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the origins of Denim Day, it’s an international day of protest against victim blaming, which began in the 1990s as the result of an Italian court ruling that concluded that because an alleged rape victim had been wearing tight jeans when she was attacked, she must have helped her alleged attacker remove her pants. Therefore, what happened to her was not rape, but consensual sex.
As a part of their 2013 programming, a number of sexual violence prevention organizations in New York City are running a citywide op ed contest for college students. It won’t surprise you given that I work for The Op Ed Project, but I feel very strongly about the power of op ed writing. I feel very strongly that an op ed – which I define loosely, as any evidence-based argument that is timely and of public value – can change the world. Certainly, writing op eds has changed my life and taught me to think differently about the value of my ideas and my experiences. I also think that we desperately need more op eds from young people, and from members of marginalized populations. If we’re only hearing from straight white men, we’re going to be missing a lot of the picture and a lot of the best ideas.
So I’m psyched about this contest, and I want you to enter it. And if you’re not eligible, I want you to email this link, right now, to someone who is, and urge them to enter it.
Winning op-eds will be those that best represent the Denim Day 2013 theme of “Telling the Truth About Sexual Violence,” by discussing one of the following topics:
- Victim blaming in the college community
- Myths about what causes sexual violence on campus
- The impact of sexual violence on college students
- Being an ally to end sexual violence on your campus
- Changing college culture to prevent sexual violence
Op-eds must be between 500 and 700 words in length, and may be written in either English or Spanish.
You have something to say about one or all of those topics, and so do the people around you. I mean, how could you not? And even if you aren’t eligible to enter – if you’re not in college or not in New York City– write the damn thing anyway, and post it on the Feministing Community blog.