Students march for sexual assault awareness

USC students rallied with other protesters in front of Los Angeles City Hall on the Thursday evening before the inauguration of President Donald Trump. The rally aimed to call attention to sexual assault and stand in solidarity with victims.

After Access Hollywood tapes, in which the President-elect stated that he can “grab [women] by the p-ssy,” leaked in October 2016, victims and allies condemned the Trump’s behavior and worked to empower those who have experienced assault.

“We’re angry, but first and foremost we want to make sure people know that there are others that are going to fight for their rights,” said Ellie McDaniel, a sophomore majoring in NGOs and social change. “Not everyone has these ideals that Trump has. Not everyone thinks ‘locker room banter’ is a joke. We’re here, [and] we’re going to keep fighting through his administration.”

McDaniel works with “Not On My Campus,” an organization that shares sexual assault testimonials as a way to humanize the issue rather than overly politicize it. McDaniel said her organization also makes a distinction between inciting violence to fight violence and using civic engagement and public opinion to communicate concerns to the incoming administration.

Fiona Lawson, a senior majoring in philosophy, politics and law, attended the rally and explained that those who accept Trump’s “political incorrectness” because they believe he will not act on his offensive statements do not understand the power words can have.

“Words that incite violence aren’t just words … they have real meaning, [and] they are creating tangible consequences for people,” Lawson said. “It doesn’t matter if [Trump] believes the stuff he says or not — he is on the largest public platform there is. He is going to have real influence over the way people think.”

Protesters expressed fear that a Trump administration could strip resources for women and survivors of sexual assault.

Keyanna Celina, a keynote speaker, shared her story of abuse through the foster care system and shed light upon issues of intersectionality, highlighting her struggles as a black woman.

“Black women typically are erased from feminism,” Celina said. “People can be racist and feminist.”

She also emphasized the psychological hurdles marginalized groups could feel as a result of the unequal distribution of power in the fight for equality — and warned against its potential to further oppress these groups.

“Black women are more vulnerable,” Celina said. “We are considered the ‘throw-away people,’ the people it is OK to rape. When you’re preying on someone, you’re not going to go to the person with the feminist movement at their feet, you go for the vulnerable black woman.”