Breaking the Silence and extending our support

by Alexandra Alridge on 4 December 2017


The last month has seen a flood - or better a tidal wave - of news stories of sexual harassment, from Hollywood to Westminster. The recent #metoo campaign has further drawn attention to the magnitude of sexual violence and its victims. For myself and many others, the extent of harassment is perhaps unsurprising given our own experiences, however learning of victim’s suffering is always going to be harrowing and frustrating. It is unfair that the burden falls on the victims to call out unacceptable behaviour time and time again, particularly if this doesn’t lead to actual change.

Cases that involve celebrities (just a very small selection here, here and here) inevitably generate lots of headlines and coverage, which begs the question of how much sexual violence occurs in less newsworthy settings. Academia isn’t Hollywood, but sexual misconduct is still rife. I could talk endlessly about the experiences of myself and my peers; in particular the irony of the young guys who self-identify as ‘feminist’, with Judith Butler books on their shelves used to lure women into their beds.

The ‘Breaking the Silence’ campaign, which is specifically targeted at dealing with sexual misconduct at our university. The campaign facilitates a safe space for us to speak up, which can often be one of the hardest things to do. It provides us with information regarding who to talk to and where to go. Speaking out can be done anonymously. It aims to combat feelings of shame and guilt that so often accompany experiences of sexual violence; shifting perceptions and holding those at fault truly accountable.

Another aim of the campaign is addressing misconceptions about what harassment actually means. Often we keep silent about inappropriate behaviour because we believe that it wasn’t serious enough. We are told to brush it aside, to ignore it, or to learn to take a joke. This is unacceptable; we need to feel confident knowing that we have the right to be in academic spaces without being constantly vigilant, and to be treated with basic respect.

Finally the campaign aims to ‘address culture as well as conduct’. This is key, as speaking out is tough, and it is important that doing so leads to actual lasting change. Sexual violence should never be silenced and it should never be a part of anybody’s university experience. We have an amazingly supportive community of women here at Lucy, and the campaign is crucial in extending that support into our wider university experiences, outside of our college.

In this section

Blog Authors

Agata Kurczynska

Alexandra Alridge

Alice Middleton

Alison Russell

Anna Svegborn

Anna Wong

Annalisa Occhipinti, PhD Student Computer Science

Annika Brouwer

Anthea Bain

April Bowman

Ateka Tarajia

Barbara Bollig

Barbara Wittman

Bea Aldrich

Carol Atack

Caroline Sier

Caroline Vinall

Catherine Palmer

Charlotte Fiehn

Cherish Watton

Dame Anne Owers

Dorothy Heeneman

Dr Angela Morecroft

Dr Barbara Wittman

Dr Bryanna Fox

Dr Emanuela Orlando

Dr Henriette Hendriks and Dr Isobel Maddison

Dr Isobel Maddison

Dr Louise Foxcroft

Dr Yvonne Zivkovic

Elinor George, LCCBC President

Elizabeth Jurd

Ellen Gage

Ellen Verde

Eva Simmons

Gemma Maitland

Georgia Hume

Gill Heyworth

Hannah Hutchings-Georgiou

Helen Gibson

Hollie Wells

Ingrid Dixon

Isabel Clare

Jean Cosslett

Jeanette Ariano, Marketing Manager

Jen Aggleton

Jennifer Ellis

Jessica Henry

Jessica Lim

Jessica Phillips

Jessie Ingle

Jillinda Tiley

Jo Harcus

Joanna Walker

Jothi Reddy

Joy Haughton

Judith Roberts

Julia Hayes

Julia Nielsen

Kate Coghlan

Katerina Georgopoulou

Ketaki Patel

Kyaelim Kwon

Laura Shepperson-Smith

Laura Tan

Leona Awoyele

Lindsay Malone

Lizzie Moore

Lottie Greenhaf

Lucia Linares

Mara González Souto

Marianna Kopsida

Mathilde Whitburn

Michelle Baikie

Molly Yarn

Myriam Goudet

Ning Sang Jessica Tan

Patricia Vazquez Rodriguez

Poly Frangou, Women's Captain

Raisa Ostapenko

Ruth Haynes

Salma Elnagar

Sarah Godlee

Sheelagh Drudy

Shoko Hirosue

Sofia Maroudia

Stephanie Ma

Sulema Jahangir

Susy Jepson

Suzanne Tonkin

Tanya Brown

Teresa Ma

Tianqi Dong

Tilda Bowden

Tom Dawson

Wai Wan (Vivian) SZE-TO

Wendy Pollard

Yun Chiang