On a chilly day, an old, beaten car sits near the flagpole. The words “rape culture” cover every inch of the vehicle. A sharp bang reverberates through the air, leaving a dent in the car’s hood. A student sets a sledgehammer on the ground, removing her safety goggles. More students anxiously wait in line for their chance to smash the car.
“This is the first time I’ve seen this done ever,” SMU student Quyen Tong said.
Men for Equality hosted “Smash Rape Culture on Campus” at the flagpole Wednesday. A car from Twin Lakes Auto Salvage was donated for the event, allowing students to beat it up for $1 per hit. The purpose of the event was to raise awareness of rape culture on campus. By hitting the car, students were symbolically beating up rape culture and its effects.
“Rape culture is a culture that silences and blames victims for the violent crimes that are committed against them,” Women’s Interest Network member Audrey Gill said. “[This event] is a great way to raise awareness and encourage and empower people to make campus safer for victims of sexual assault.”
All proceeds earned from the event were donated to the Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center (DARCC).
“I’ve been wanting to do something for DARCC since the fall of my freshman year,” Kyle Swartz, president of Men for Equality, said. “It feels like something this symbolic should go straight to the people who need it.”
DARCC is a non-profit organization that helps victims of sexual assault and works to prevent sexual assaults in the Dallas area.
“I think it’s so amazing for…an organization on campus to raise awareness about rape culture [at SMU] and do such a bold showing at an event that incorporates lots of people and that gets a lot of attention,” said Monica Urbaniak, counselor and outreach director at DARCC.
Tong donated $2 and enjoyed the experience.
“There was a sense of relief, a sense of maybe getting justice for the rape victims,” Tong said. “It was fun to hit the car too, although I was mostly worried about not dropping the hammer.”
Julianna Bond also participated in the event and believes that stopping rape culture is an important objective.
“Smashing rape culture has always been something that’s been very important to me because I’ve had a lot of friends who have been physically assaulted,” Bond said. “I think it’s a good start. I’m glad more people are becoming aware, but it’s still not enough.”
The goal of the event was not only to raise awareness, but also to jump start conversations and discussions about rape culture and how students should respond to its effects.
“One of things I’ve noticed from being here today is just seeing people get engaged in the conversation about rape culture on campus and in the greater society…and talk about how we can be a part of changing and shifting our culture,” Urbaniak said. “Just seeing people start talking has been huge.”
Men for Equality is a subgroup of the Women’s Interest Network that works and to affect the campus environment and also to get more men interested in gender issues.
“Everyone should be interested in feminism, and helping gender issues in America, especially on a college campus,” Swartz said. “With Men for Equality, the idea was that it could be a place where just the title alone can start to get guys interested.”
Many men appeared at the flagpole for their chance to wield the sledgehammer. Student Body President Ramon Trespalacios donated $20 and took a swing at the car in a suit and tie. Sophomore Elliott Bouillion was also wearing dress clothes when he arrived at the event.
“I came here because there’s been a lot of impact about sexual assault on campus, staring with the Not On My Campus campaign,” Bouillion said. “I came here to support the cause and help raise awareness.”
Max Schauermann climbed on top of the car to swing at its roof.
“I am an advocate against rape culture absolutely,” Schauermann said. “This is a great opportunity to make a public display of a movement against rape culture and it’s a lot of fun. I hit a car. I never had the opportunity to do that before.”
In the span of four hours, over $500 were raised for DARCC.
“Overall, I think it went very well,” Swartz said. “I’m happy. My goal was 300 bucks at least, but I’m glad we passed that.”
Men for Equality holds its meetings Fridays at 4 p.m. in Hughes-Trigg Student Center Portico A. To learn how to volunteer with the DARCC, visit its website.