If the Women’s Center at Shippensburg University works toward empowerment, equality and ending violence for all of the members of the Shippensburg University community, then why does the title of the center exclude everyone except women?
In a time of turmoil all students should feel that they have aa safe haven to retreat to. But in the case of many universities across the country, men do not have a specific place that they can go to for comfort, whereas women do. Recently, various women’s centers have initiated more gender-inclusive programming. Many believe that the next step in making women’s centers more accepting would be replacing it with an inclusive name.
Different schools across America have already changed the name of their women’s center to create more inclusivity among students. On Feb. 16, Boise State University changed the name of their women’s center to the Gender Equality Center. The campus and community had been requesting the name change for nearly five years. “The new name will help clarify that campus members who are LGBT, gender non-conforming and male are welcome in the space,” said the associate director, Adriane Bang. Currently, there have been no serious discussions about changing the name of SU’s Women’s Center, but that could change in the near future.
For years there has been an ongoing stigma that men are the only predators of sexual violence, but this is inaccurate. The National Crime Victimization Survey analyzed the answers of 40,000 households and found that 38 percent of men are victims of sexual violence. In the past two years, many female sexual assault victims have stepped forward with many of these women naming their accusers outright. In a poll by the Post-Kaiser Family Foundation they found 1 in 20 men are victims of sexual assault. If so many men are being sexually assaulted, and so many female sexual assault victims are publicizing their stories, then why are so few men coming forward to name their accusers? Due to a lack of acceptance and safety net, male sexual assault victims believe that they will be made a mockery of, so they continue to hide in the shadows.
More colleges should change the name of their women’s centers so that men, non-gender conforming and LGBT feel that they have a place to share their stories. If people are more open to speaking about their experiences with sexual assault, then maybe we could find a better way to combat sexual violence.