It was easy enough to realize the problem of sexual assault. We all cared about it deeply, and we were shocked by the horrifying statistic that 1 in 3 women are sexually or physically violated in the world. But soon, we found that none of the many solutions we brainstormed for the problem under the blue sky approach would work.
Originally, we had wanted to improve campus safety with an app that would notify your friends and family members if you went missing as you walked across campus. But when most SF State students told us that they felt quite safe on campus, even at night, we did some more research to see if we could even find customer validation. Our research told us that most sexual assault actually happens in the dorms, not outside. So we pivoted to our second idea, which was to connect RAs at colleges to incoming college freshman girls at the same specific college through an online video. The purpose was to prevent sexual assault by educating college freshman girls on consent, effects of alcohol, and the nightlife at their own specific college before ever stepping foot on campus. But after three long days of reaching out to mentors and parents, we realized how hard it was to get in touch with people. People were opening and reading our emails, but not actually replying. And we realized that the issue was probably not the way we were approaching them, but the actual topic matter itself. No one wanted to talk about sexual assault.
So then we realized that we couldn’t talk about preventing sexual assault before making sure people knew about the issue and were willing to talk about it. We had finally come to our root problem: there is a clear stigma against sexual assault, best described by the statistic that over 70% of sexual assault is unreported to authorities.
Talking about sexual assault is taboo. The victims who come forward with their stories have been told that it was their fault, that they should be ashamed, and that no one wants to listen. Meanwhile, men (mostly non-victims) don’t want to talk about it because they are automatically stereotyped as the perpetrators in every situation and because they often feel like they can’t relate to the victims at all.
There is a lack of understanding of the extent of the issue and why it happens— and it all comes back to the stigma.
Now, after a long, rocky road of pivots and turns, we have come to our solution. We are creating a movement to spread awareness on the gravity of this issue through our apparel. We chose apparel in order to force people to see our logo “Look At Her,” and see the statistics for themselves. The money that we receive is mainly used to buy more shirts and more bands to keep raising awareness.
But, in order for thousands of more people to be aware of our social movement, we need to establish a community and a base of passionate people who care about this issue.
Building a community and providing a safe place is going to be the hardest hurdle to overcome as we kick off.
We are starting out with simple merchandise like stickers and T-shirts to gain traction. Our team went to PRIDE SF to sell water bottles to fund our cause, and with each water bottle, we asked for email addresses. We truly felt like we were making a difference in the world when people told us how important this cause was to them.
This validation is only making us hungrier for more. With every sale, we complete, our drive increases, and we want to reach out to even more people. We are confident that we are the right people to start this movement because we are high school students going up to college, where 1 in 4 girls are sexually assaulted. This issue directly impacts us, and we can relate to the general public far better than any celebrity can. Our drive won’t stop until we know thousands of more people are educated and aware.