Laci Green, a 25-year-old sex education activist and YouTube vlogger, is combating rape culture one college campus at a time.
Green, who recently received her degree from UC Berkeley on rape nature and causes, filled the SUB Ballroom with more than a thousand students, staff and interested persons Thursday night — an uncommon occurrence for UNM events. Her discussion focused on defining and describing what rape culture is and how to confront it.
“Whenever I talk about rape culture online, there is a lot of skepticism,” Green said.
During her talk, Green displayed statistics that suggest sexual assault is a “common” occurrence, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. One in 33 men, one in 20 women, one in eight transgender youth, one in seven homosexual men, one in four homosexual women and one in three disabled persons have experienced sexual violence, according to the statistics she presented.
“Perpetrators will rape an average of six times,” Green read from one of her slides. “The predators are not commonly punished for their crimes.”
Green’s focus for the lecture was sexual assault on college campuses.
Using the University of South Indiana as a case study, Green said she looked into multiple cases of men assaulting women and noticed a common trend: perpetrators were sympathized with, and the victims were blamed.
“Sympathy for the boys, but not for the victim. Her life was torn apart and no one cared or was sympathetic,” Green said. “The rapist graduates, and the victims’ lives are turned upside down... it’s hard to see the rapist in class, and (she) takes a semester off.”
Not only is sexual assault illegal, it is also illegal for schools not to take action in response to it, regardless of gender or race, according to Title IX, she said.
Green also touched on gender roles and sexual objectification during her presentation, using the blatant rape-based lyrics for “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke.
“It’s funny, like the words a rapist would say — ‘You’re a good girl. I know you want it,’” Green said.
Her slide show included victims presenting the words to be sexual objectification and predatory.
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As Green closed, she explained that standing up as a bystander, knowing when rape culture is being perpetuated and challenging the norms will lead to the end of it.
“The only reason I’m here is to raise awareness about sexual violence, how common it is and the attitudes about it, so that we can change that and bring down the rates of sexual assault,” Green said.
Tomas Aguirre, dean of students, said he was impressed by the data, presentation and student participation at the event.
“Here we had over a thousand students, (and) you could just tell (they) were fired up,” Aguirre said.
He said Green is relatable, has a message that resonates with students and presents facts in a palatable way.
“I really hope that these thousand students will go out and connect with other students and turn them on to some of her videos on YouTube. We can just keep building this,” he said. “We aren’t trying to make it better, we are trying to eradicate it.”
Meenakshi Reher-Kelkar, a freshman biology major, said this information was not new to her and she appreciates Green’s tour of colleges around the U.S.
“I think everyone needs to realize that boys and girls and trans and whatever need to get that sex-ed is an important thing,” she said.
Reher-Kelkar said she wants to be known and respected as an individual, not an object.
Katherine Mulle, a senior English major, said she was thrilled to see Green in person and enjoyed the whimsical fashion in which she presented modern terms.
“I think we need young strong voices on rape culture,” Mulle said. “People think it’s not a big deal and joke about it, but they are really just perpetuating the problem when they do that.”
Mulle said she appreciated how Green spoke out to the men in the audience to take action and stand up against rape culture.
Green’s campus tour is scheduled to end on Dec. 11 in New Brunswick, New Jersey at the National Sex Education Conference.
Imani Lambert is a freelance reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @DailyLobo.