Feminist Film Friday to focus on sexual assualt awareness

By Catherine Sweeney | 4/19/17 9:34pm

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GVL/Ty Konell - Students gather for Feminist Flick Friday which took place in the Women's Center Friday, Sept. 30, 2016. The Feminist Film Friday series continues with a showing of “It Happened Here” on Friday, April 21, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m

by Ty Konell / Grand Valley Lanthorn

For the upcoming Feminist Film Friday hosted by the Grand Valley State University Women’s Center, faculty members will use time allotted Friday, April 21, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., to support those who have been victimized by sexual assault.

Though these films occur monthly, this special showing of “It Happened Here” acts as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month and commemorates those who have been impacted by sexual assault and domestic violence.

“It Happened Here” is a 2014 documentary that highlights the long-term consequences of sexual assault and educates others on the real life impact.

“When we talk about social justice issues, it is always a balance for the program to be memorable and empowering and appropriately address the seriousness of the issue,” said Betsie Schoedel, a coordinator of the Feminist Film Friday event.

“It Happened Here” focuses on the harsh reality of what it means to be a survivor of sexual assault. According to the event’s website, the film “explores sexual assault on campuses through the personal testimonials of five survivors who transform their experiences into a springboard for change.”

However, this is not a singular event. Feminist Film Fridays occur throughout the year to address serious issues surrounding gender justice and a variety of topics centered around student education.  

“Throughout the year, the Women’s Center creates a space on campus to watch these programs and discuss the relevance currently on campus, in the media and across the nation,” Schoedel said. "It is in this way that students can become part of the social movement for change in gender justice."

For those who attend this event, Schoedel hopes students gain more than just credit for their LIB 101 class.

“Sexual assault is prevalent across every college campus, and we need to create the space to discuss the barriers survivors have when they seek support and report to authorities.” Schoedel said. “Statistically every 98 seconds an American is sexually assaulted. Whether or not if sexual assault has directly impacted you, chances are it has impacted someone you know, a partner, a friend or a family member.

"We need to, as a community, do a better job of addressing the prevalence of sexual assault.”

By learning more about the harmful effects sexual assault has on both survivors of these incidents and those who know a survivor, Schoedel hopes students will take something positive away from Feminist Film Friday. In addition, she hopes students know they have the ability to create social change both in and outside of campus.

The event will take place in the main level of Kirkhof in the Women’s Center, with snacks and beverages provided. Following the film, there will be a short discussion to answer any questions viewers may still have about what they have watched.

For more information about the Women's Center events and programs, call (616) 331-2748 or contact womenctr@gvsu.edu.

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