Meat.

I am the vice president of a club on campus called “In It To End It,” which is part of a national initiative to end human trafficking, and in order to raise money to free people from modern day slavery we decided to sell pizza to drunk college students during homecoming weekend.

This is what happens when you are a girl standing on greek row at 2 a.m.: Boys come up to you and point out the size of your breasts, they tell you that they’ll only buy your pizza if you give them your number, they openly rate girls in front of you, and if you’re lucky a forty year old pervert might even decline your pizza in favor of a girl who he says “has legs impossible to close.”

Greek culture, and the party culture that goes along with it, is entirely foreign to me.

I’ve watched alcohol ruin lives and families of people that I love, and I’ve realized that in college and high school, there isn’t a  problem with underage drinking so much as there is a problem with drinking to lose all inhibition. People don’t drink to be sociable anymore, they drink to lose themselves. I’ve had countless conversations in the past month alone where people who are drinking tell me that it’s hollow and empty, but they continue to do it because without the buzz of the alcohol they are afraid that they aren’t enough, that the alcohol tricks people into thinking they’re better – friendlier, bolder.

And thats where dehumanization begins. Thats when it becomes okay to look at people like they are nothing more than meat.

I am not a piece of meat.

I am a full human, with a brain and a body which houses it.

And so is every other human on this campus.

In walking to my classes I catch countless appraisals of girls as if they’re livestock. I watch the flicker of boys’ eyes as they run up and down the passing bodies, and I watch as they lick their lips and punch the shoulders of the boys with them, begging them to catch a glimpse. On Greek row boys assign numbers to the girls that pass by them, openly evaluating their hotness, openly discussing all the things that they want to to do them in the dark. Girls are naught but a toy for their filthy desires. They aren’t ashamed of their appraisals, and they aren’t sorry for their reactions.

I can feel eyes on me when I am walking to and from class, occasionally I’ll catch the eyes of an onlooker and downturn my face so as to pretend I didn’t see him mentally undressing me. There is this stigma that accompanies the appraisal – am I a ten or a two? Some part of me will always wonder, and that’s what breaks my heart the most.

Multiple times in my life I have been told to “sit down and look pretty.” I’ve been put down, an item to look at rather than inspire. There are others, my sisters, who have treaded the paths of sexual violence and abuse, found themselves in the mentality that they aren’t good enough – that they’ll never be good enough. We live in a porn-saturated-society, every fantasy and desire can be quelled at the click of a button, so why tell a woman that she’s beautiful when you’re looking for nothing more than to validate your masculinity by telling your frat brothers about all of the girls you’ve screwed during the weekend?Masculinity today is no longer about protection, it is about the release of sexual tension.  We are the faceless generation. Slaves to desire because no one is willing to remove the chains which have already been unlocked.

I am losing heart.

Recently my university hosted a screening of the documentary “The Hunting Ground,” which follows the stories of multiple collegiate women who have been raped and silenced. Their respective universities told them to be silent because to point the finger meant losing valuable athletes and income for the universities. And this is not an unusual story. Girls that I know and love have been the victims of sexual violence, but it is an injustice that carries so much shame that often they are silent. What could happen if they did speak? They don’t want to be the demise of the boys, they rationalize that its normal, that its not a big deal, and then they drink themselves into oblivion to avoid the truth. What do boys do about that? They laugh at them being so drunk and the cycle repeats.

At the screening of the documentary, everyone left as soon as they received credit for being there, they could care less about the injustice, they just wanted the extra credit. People get uncomfortable when they are put face to face with an injustice as potent as this. We all hear statistics – 1 in 3, 1 in 4 – the list goes on, but the victims are more than a number and their pain is more than a story.

Meat. A puppet for desire. How did we come so far? When did the woman’s body lose its mystery and beauty in favor of debauchery?

I know that this is not all the world has to offer. I know that there are men out there that genuinely care for their sisters and strive to protect them; even if 90% of them do suck.

So what happens now?

Men of character its time to stand up. We live in a world where a man’s voice carries real weight. A man who speaks out on the issue of sexual violence and dehumanization has a voice as potent as twenty girls speaking at the same caliber. Men of character its time to set the example, its time to establish a new precedent of respect.

Ladies, you are so valuable, you don’t need the approval of a douche to believe it. Its okay to say no. It’s okay to deal with your hurt. It’s okay to be hurt. Its okay to tell someone to leave you alone. And its especially okay to speak up.

Its time to end the perversion. What happened to the respect?

Will the real men please stand up?

meat

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