Producer of Sexual Assault Documentary Ends Herstory Month

Students gathered in Friends Hall on Wednesday to wrap up Women’s Herstory Month with this year’s keynote speaker, Morea Steinhauer, the associate producer of the short documentary “It Was Rape.”

“I don’t think sexual assault and rape is talked about enough. I feel like this is a really important event to get us talking about it,” said Graduate Assistant for Equity and Diversity Programs Stephanie Hernandez Rivera.

The month of March has been designated as Women’s Herstory Month for colleges across the country, celebrating women with various events and activities, including this year’s keynote speaker at Ramapo.

Steinhauer focused the conversation on the topic of rape through her experiences working with the women featured in the documentary, “It Was Rape.”

“It talks about eight womens’ journeys with an experience that irrevocably changed their lives,” Steinhauer said, prefacing the documentary.

Students were then invited to watch at their own comfort level. Understanding the sensitivity of the subject, Kat McGee, assistant director of the Center for Student Involvement and coordinator of the Women’s Center, was available for anyone who needed to discuss concerns during the documentary.

“If you resonate with any of these experiences, or have anyone close to you who resonates with these experiences, you can always talk to me…and everything you say to us is completely confidential-and when I say confidential, I really mean confidential,” McGee said to the audience.

The diverse group of women highlighted in the documentary represented a wide range of experiences. Their stories, from a young woman who was molested by her father, to a young lesbian gang raped in a bathroom, to yet another young woman subject to a violent, abusive childhood due to alcoholism, demanded emotion from its audience.

However, these emotions were not all limited to sadness.

“I think it’s really inspiring to see how all the victims overcame their struggle and grew from it,” Nicole Rock, a freshman, said.

The documentary ended with inspiration, noting that the women who shared their stories went on to be successful professors, activists and even proud parents. One such woman, Wagatwe Wanjuki, who experienced rape while in college, moved on to become a successful activist, feminist, writer and avid blogger. Wanjuki accompanied Steinhauer to Ramapo to answer the audiences’ questions.

“The thing that screams in my mind the loudest is the power of people being able to tell their own stories…learning skills about sitting in front of somebody, and not trying to fix somebody because they’re not broken is something powerful in itself,” Steinhauer said.

During the question and answer portion of the event, Steinhauer took time to address the importance of letting people share their stories, while Wanjuki focused on her ability to use humor to see light in such a daunting situation and to help end the perpetuation of rape culture.

“This, like any aspect of our identity, is only one thing,” Steinhauer said.