Recently, I read the March 30 Daily Iowegian story “Area mayors combat sexual assault.” I want to applaud the mayors of these local towns for signing proclamations to battle sexual assault, especially those in Centerville, Moravia and Rathbun.
I moved to Centerville the summer before my seventh-grade year. As a teenager, it really didn't matter to me what kind of world I lived in as long as people liked me, I got a job I enjoyed and I fit in somehow.
However, as a 24-year-old woman working at a newspaper in Creston, I've had the opportunity to read newspaper articles about the many public sexual assault trials across the globe, and what I've learned these few years since graduating high school has made me what to be a person of change. Knowing there are people who still consider another person inferior just because of gender makes me angry. When a man can say he is better than a woman just because he is physically stronger, or stereotypically “better” in other ways, something needs to change.
Historically speaking, men have been in power a long time. But, times are changing. This patriarchy needs to change. Men (and I say men because statistically, more women are abused or oppressed than men in the same situation) are no longer the more powerful of the genders. Women are just as capable, if not more, in many of the same jobs as men. Studies have shown women can handle pain better than men. Women may not be as physically intimidating as men, but women can still push themselves beyond all limits and succeed in life.
As an activist for equal rights for all, my one concern is the teachings the communities provide. Thanks to something known as "rape culture," it has been shown that teaching women to not be assaulted is a failed path to choose. What we must do is teach all people to respect others and not assault. By showing young men in school that respecting their female classmates is proper and that those females are not objects meant for their amusement, we can start improving all assault statistics, not just sexual assault. This will also lead to safer college campuses for all people.
I can honestly say these signed proclamations make me proud to come from the Rathbun and Centerville areas because it means all people, whether city or country folk, see the importance of gender equality. It comes at a crucial moment in time, since even former President Jimmy Carter released his new book “A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence and Power” March 25. Thanks to Carter's authority as a former president, Nobel Peace Prize winner and husband, one more step toward equal women's rights can be made.
I hope these proclamations are not just discarded now that they are, or will be, signed. I hope the people of southern Iowa take advantage of this news and keep moving toward change for all people. And, I truly hope this opens the minds of those who doubt, and they see just how important every person is.
Creston News Advertiser staff reporter