‘Just being right’ won’t stop the violence

This letter is in response to Carrie Bass’ column on the Violence Intervention and Prevention Center that appeared in the Kernel on Friday. I agree that the ultimate way to end all violence against women is to eradicate sexism. However, for those of us in the movement, we recognize that changing the cultural viewpoint of women is a lifelong process.

Right now, what we need is an approach to ending immediate violence. The woman at a party being dragged to a room by five guys who slipped her roofies doesn’t have time for us to make them understand that their actions are caused by deeply rooted sexism that has been instilled in them since birth.

In the last six months, the VIP Center has started its preventive plan: the Bystander Intervention Model that we introduced at Students Educating and Empowering to Develop Safety last semester. We believe this different approach to ending violence will bring numbers down.

This model targets bystanders. We’re not focusing on what women should do differently, and we’re not looking at men like they are all potential rapists; we’re looking at everyone — the people who see some part of violence occur or see a situation that could potentially lead to violence. We are taught to intervene along a broad spectrum of violence, from someone saying a blame-the-victim statement to seeing a girl being forced into a car. Our main focus is to not even get to the discussion about whether or not the girl deserved it or was asking for it — if we intervene before anything even happens, then the discussion around the victim becomes moot, because there would be no victim.

If we want people to prevent violence, we have to give them a plausible solution that they feel they can achieve. In the last century, feminists have been yelling at the top of their lungs that women are equal to men, that we deserve respect, and that our bodies are completely our own, and today, violence against women has not stopped. We have got to try a different approach, because obviously just being right isn’t enough.

Kristen Lambert

VIP Center volunteer

Sociology junior