On Nov. 12 and 13, the Center for Cura Personalis produced a play titled “I Am Maria.” The play presented a very common scenario that is happening far too often: a college student gets drunk and is raped by a friend when she cannot give consent. This is a narrative we know all too well, yet it is hard to imagine ever being in that situation until you are actually in it.
This production strived to give audience members a chance to be in that situation from an outsider’s perspective, aiming to evoke powerful emotions and strong sympathy for survivors of sexual assault.
“I Am Maria” is a great start to the conversation we need to be having about sexual assault. It is much easier to consider the issue far away and irrelevant to our own lives than to admit that this is happening all around you.
The fact that one in five women and one in 16 men will experience sexual assault on a college campus is absolutely unacceptable. Unfortunately, not talking about the issue contributes to the commonality of the problem. “I Am Maria” strives to open up dialogue about sexual assault in order for it to eventually become less of a commonality.
I was fortunate enough to be able to share my own personal story in this production, along with two other monologists. All of our stories were drastically different, which is part of what made this production so special.
In my monologue, I chose to focus on the aftermath of my assault. For me, the event was so detrimental to the course of my life that nothing seemed to exist “before.” There was only the assault and then the aftermath. I also deliberately chose to say little about my assailant, because when I’m telling my story, it is exactly that: my story. My assailant sufficiently derailed my life for a long period of time; he doesn’t deserve to continue to do so. Instead, I will tell my story with him as a secondary character and allow the focus to remain on me.
In recent news stories, allegations against Harvey Weinstein have surfaced where numerous women have come forward about being sexually assaulted by Weinstein. What’s most interesting to me when it comes to these news articles is that the focus is always on Weinstein, never on the survivors.
By now, everyone in the world knows Weinstein’s name. Yet, the survivors will remain nameless in the eyes of the public. While it is important to make sure the perpetrator cannot continue victimizing people, it is equally important that we pay attention to the survivors who are speaking up. It is time that we make the choice to pass the microphones to the survivors, not the rapists.
While we are seeing a shift in society’s willingness to believe others, there will still be the people out there who will disregard, silence and continue to hurt survivors. Survivors will still be scared into silence, disregarded and made to feel as if they deserved the pain they had to go through.
Seventy-nine different women should not have to accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct before someone says “OK, this can’t be ignored anymore.”
It is our job as bystanders to listen, believe and stand up for survivors. The stories shown in “I Am Maria” should not be the end of the conversation.
There are endless scenarios in which sexual assault can occur. Unfortunately, we cannot produce plays depicting all scenarios of sexual assault. What we can do is keep ourselves educated, pay attention and keep talking about issues that matter.
Sarah Kersey is a sophomore English major and the Editor in chief of Charter.