@SpeakUpOU Twitter Account By Ohio University Student Rachel Baker Is Fighting Sexual Harassment On Campus One Tweet At A Time
It's well-documented that we're excited about back-to-school season here at Bustle, but for many college students, it's an unfortunate truth that a return to campus means a return to the rape culture that is so often prevalent on college campuses. Luckily, at Ohio University, one young woman is fighting that attitude. College sophomore Rachel Baker started the Twitter account @SpeakUpOU, which encourages students at Ohio University to share their encounters with all kinds of harassment because of the experiences she and many of her friends had had with on-campus cat-calling and racial harassment.
“As a freshman I had already experienced multiple forms of harassment personally, as had many of the other women I had talked to or befriended,” Baker said to the website The Daily Dot, which profiled Baker (Bustle also reached out to Baker, but had received no response by press time). The effort was inspired by a similar campaign called #youoksis started by the blog Feminista Jones, which encouraged people to intervene in an non-threatening way when they see women being harassed on the street (for instance, by asking "You OK, sis?").
Already, the stories and testimony pouring in from women are powerful reminders that taking back the street using creative means like this is an important step in the fight for women's equality:
Ohio University's student newspaper, The Post-Athens, interviewed Baker about the project in one of their first issues of the year and revealed an intelligent, thoughtful young woman, committing to ending misogynistic culture on the Ohio University campus and beyond. And she has a great response to her critics who think that her policy of revealing the full names of people who have harassed women on campus is troubling: “More blame is placed on people who speak up than those who harass,” Baker told the student paper. “It seems more disruptive to talk about it than the fact that it’s happening in the first place. The overall goal is to challenge that.”
It's honestly inspiring to me that college kids (Baker is only 19!) are using social media to offer an independent, watchdog alternative to the often troubling systems college institutions use to punish misogynistic behavior like rape and harassment. It's not a perfect system — undoubtedly, some women won't want to speak out in such a public way. But hopefully, efforts like Baker's will inspire more women to come forward and share their stories than would have otherwise. I give her an A+ in smart activism.
Images: Marisa Kabas/Flickr