Crimson article about our Rape Culture Speak-Out!

Just an hour later, students gathered at Holden Chapel to share their reflections on rape culture in a event called “Speak Out,” which discussed rape culture in a forum setting.

Organizers said they sought to create a space where students could feel comfortable speaking about rape. “When it comes to rape culture, it’s very much associated with silence,” said Amanda J. Gokee ’14, a co-organizer of the event.

Those in attendance were asked to adhere to a code of confidentiality about the contents of the speakers’ presentations.

Although seven speakers were arranged ahead of time, sign-up sheets were passed around and members of the audience were invited to participated.

“The sheer act of talking about [rape] can be really empowering,” Kate Sim ’14 said, the founder of Our Harvard Can Better, which organized the event.

In her opening remarks, Sim said her group hoped to encourage scrutiny of the rape culture prevalent at Harvard and greater society.

“Rape culture really comes down to a set of social norms that constrain meaningful interaction and vilify sexuality that affects all of us as survivors and allies,” Sim said.

Our Harvard Can Do Better was also responsible for organizing the petition to put the affirmative consent referendum on the Undergraduate Council ballot. In addition to the ballot, which passed by a landslide majority, recent months at Harvard have seen the news of twoalleged rapes in and near Harvard Yard in August and hearty discussion of a former Amherst student’s account of her experience dealing with administrators after she was raped.

Cyatharine M. Alias ’15, who attended “Speak Out,” said the event covered more than “Sex Signals,” the program during freshman orientation week.

“I think it touched on a variety of things that other performances like Sex Signals don’t really talk about, like the healing process and the gay community,” Alias said.

Representatives from a number of campus peer counseling groups were present, both to speak out themselves and be on hand for those who might wish to seek out help after the event.

Read more: Two Events Continue Campus Conversation About Sexual Assaul


rape culture speak-out

“silence has the rusty taste of shame” – Angie Epifano, The Amherst Student 

rape culture speak-out
tuesday, december 4 | 7-9pm | holden chapel
rsvp here
What is rape culture? 
Rape culture describes a culture in which sexual violence is normalized so that 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men experience sexual assault in their lifetime. Rape culture is trivializing rape with phrases like, “I got raped by my exam.” It is victim blaming that teaches people “Don’t get raped” instead of “Don’t rape.” It is accusing rape survivors for not taking care of themselves and “asking for it.” It is a set of social norms that constrain meaningful interaction and vilify sexuality that affects all of us as survivors and allies.  
What is a speak-out?
Speak-out is a gathering of people to create a safer space in which they can share their experience and listen to the voices of others. It serves to validate our experiences, recognize that we are not alone, and show solidarity to each other.  
Who can speak?
Students of all genders are welcome to speak, but we ask that only students attend the speak-out. Rape culture affects all peoples, from women who are disproportionately affected by sexual violence to LGBTQ folks who have to legitimize non-heterosexual violence to male bystanders who are called “p***ies” for being allies to ridiculous advertisements. It can be a story of frustration and resistance, survival and solidarity, anger and hope–anything, really. You can prepare a written piece or ad lib it as you wish. If you are interested in speaking or would like to learn more, please email 
our harvard can do better
fighting sexual assault and rape culture at Harvard