I believe the rallying cry of “It Was Like All of Us Had Been Raped” would still resonate with students on campuses today. While today’s campuses don’t have the explicit racial overtones prevalent in the South at the this time to create a sense of unity, they certainly have a sense of female unity that takes place of the racial identity from that time period in the South. From my personal experience, there is a pervasive sense of female unity on college campuses. An attack on one female is seen as an attack on all females.
I feel this is because many females are familiar with the dominant/submissive dynamic many victims of assault report feeling. Many victims report feelings of powerlessness and helplessness. I think statistically speaking women know that they have alarmingly high odds of becoming a victim themselves ( one in five women will be sexually assaulted during college (Kerber, De Hart, Dayton, & Wu 751) ) and so the assault of those around them drives home the reality of their situation to them. There are people who find it acceptable to violate women in terrible, indefensible ways. Rape, at its core, is not just a way to satisfy sexual desire, but is tool to demean and dehumanize the victim. Sexual attacks stripped the dignity and sense of self worth not just from these women, but from the community of women from which they came. The rape of other women is proof to non victims that the threat of rape and the mentality of women not having sole ownership of their own bodies exists.
This idea of one assault being felt by all women is evidenced in what reported Eugene Gordon wrote about the rape of Mrs. Recy Taylor, a black woman, by white men, “The attack on Mrs. Taylor was an attack on all women. Mrs. Taylor is a Negro… but no woman is safe or free until all women are free” (Kerber, De Hart, Dayton, & Wu 594) This quote reminds me of a famous quote from Martin Luther King Jr., he said “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. The idea of being indirectly impacted by an action pertains to this topic quite clearly. Any violation of a female person, regardless of age, sex, socioeconomic status, etc. threatens the safety of all other females persons. Therefore when women see the rape of another woman, they recognize the implicit threat that assault contains for them, making them feel violated in a way too. That is why I believe the aforementioned rallying cry would still move many to action today.
Kerber, Linda, et.al. Women’s America. 8th edition, New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.