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Michiana community talks about rape culture

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Months of high profile stories of sexual harassment and assault is creating a national conversation on rape culture.

Residents in Michiana are now weighing in on the taboo topic.

ABC 57 News talked to several men and women, young and old, on their understanding of the issue.

Many men say they may have contributed to the problem.

But they’re now using their voices and actions to contribute to a change.

“If he’s calling a girl a certain name then we’re going to think, ‘If he’s doing it, then so can I,’” said Braylon Giden, a sophomore in high school.

Boys will be boys, but where will boys draw the line?

“You’re not thinking it’s disrespectful because that’s what everybody is doing,” said Daquan Gist, a junior in high school.

It’s a conversation happening everywhere from classrooms to the Capitol following several accusations of notable men abusing their power to sexually harass and assault women.

“It’s disrespectful and scary at that same time because you don’t know what they’re capable of,” said high school senior Carla Arcineda.

Arcindea says she’s one of many young women who feel uncomfortable nearly every day because of men’s behavior.

“Like the other day I was at the store and someone was saying, ‘Hey’ but I wasn’t really paying attention because I knew what they wanted,” she said. “They cursed at me and I was like, ‘You know that’s rude.’ If I’m not paying attention to you, you cursing at me is not going to make me feel any better.”

Arcindea and other young women argue some men constantly cross a line when dealing with the other sex.

“I feel like if you’re a woman, we’ve all had that time,” said Endiga Bradford, a senior in high school. “Whether it’s like a restaurant and a waiter is looking at your breasts even though you’re not purposely showing them for him to look at but he’s glancing at them. We’ve all been in those situations.”

The girls had more stories about less-than-favorable experiences with men.

When asked if they’ve acted in a similar way, the young men ABC 57 News talked to sad they prefer act chivalrous around girls instead of rude.

 “I’ve witness a few girls get done wrong by other men so I wouldn’t really do the same to them,” said Giden.

The guys agreed, a lot of that behavior is learned.

And so it can be also be unlearned.

“I really taught myself, being young you see other people approaching girls in a certain way that’s not appropriate,” said Gist. “It’s disrespectful but at that time, you’re not thinking it’s disrespectful.”

What they’re calling disrespectful language; others see it as “locker room talk.”

But a few men in South Bend believe other men should use better judgment even during private conversations.

“You only know what is acceptable at the point at where the line is drawn,” said resident Wesley Butler.

Older men of the community chimed in on the conversation about rape culture.

And they felt men should hold each other accountable.

“You first and foremost have to hold yourself accountable because the only person you can control yourself,” said resident Karl Nichols. “And then the people you care about come next. If I can control myself then he’s not going to feel comfortable saying that around me then it stops.”

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