As women, there’s a lot we’re forced to endure. For many, we are taught to deal with fear and know that sexual harassment and rape is a huge possibility for our lives. One in four women, right? It’s unfortunate that it’s normalized.

Growing up, we’re taught to be careful walking alone (especially at night), not to wear certain clothes and to “shrug off” verbal harassment. It shouldn’t be this way. I know we like to think we’re a progressive campus, but in reality, we normalize rape culture and sexual harassment.

Saying it’s a “joke” is one way people seem to think that it makes it OK. However, cracking sexual “jokes” isn’t, and never will be, funny. I hate to be “that person” that always brings up the fact that they’re vegetarian, but when I do, it always opens up room for this one specific joke. “Oh, you don’t eat meat? Not even ‘man meat?’”

Guys really think this one is golden.

Sorry for being crude, but it’s my reality. As it’s the reality for so many other women. This has been the joke from the start of high school to, apparently, now because it happened just a couple weeks ago. I understand why men feel like they get a pass for this because it’s been normalized from such a young age. But we’re in college now.

They should know better—this isn’t funny, it’s not a joke, and it’s traumatizing. When a friend first said this to me when I was a 14-year-old high schooler,

I didn’t understand, I played along. I always play along because to respond to something like this isn’t easy. It catches you off-guard, and then you have to worry about whether or not you’re going to say the right thing.

Do you laugh it off? Do you tell them that was rude? What can I say, in a nice way so that they don’t react badly? How do I get out of this situation? I was really hoping that being on a college campus, with older, more mature students would help keep things like this from happening.

It’s an ignorant thought, but I guess I just hoped people would know better by now. There are rules and regulations set in place to help prevent this, but that doesn’t mean it gets reported.

So please, when you see or hear a little “joke,” don’t just let it slide, say something. And if you’re the one making the jokes, just stop. It’s not all that difficult to refrain from making an offensive joke.

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