Haley Nolan

The Gray Area of Rape Culture: Exploring Everyday Microaggressions

Mentor: Trish Fancher

On college campuses, in the workplace, and in public spaces, such as grocery stores or shopping malls, our regular interactions often disguise acts of misogyny and predatory behavior. Oftentimes, women lack language to describe our experiences that may fall somewhere between sexual assault and sexual harassment, but which do not precisely qualify as either. Experiences that may make someone uncomfortable are often trivialized as cultural norms for behavior such as flirting, hook ups, or compliments. My goal is to illustrate these experiences to bring awareness to what people consider comfortable or appropriate in everyday scenarios, especially as it applies to the UCSB community and campus. As seen in the recent #metoo social media campaign, rape culture is an issue that affects people at both the macro and micro level. How are we supposed to stop these “norms” of behavior if most people can’t identify or understand them in their mildest forms? This project will share stories and experiences combined with an explorative analysis of archival materials from the #metoo movement, culminating in an online collection that helps to illustrate the gray area while building a supportive and community-based space for continued discussion.