I wrote this on September 30, 2011 and thought that’d I’d finally share it with you. Please recognize that these things do happen and it’s our job to stop them.
The definition of oppression is prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or control, the state of being subject to such treatment or control, or mental pressure or distress. The Tunnel of Oppression was an event held by clubs on campus this past Thursday in the ACC meeting rooms. Different clubs, like S.O.U.L, held each room. I am a member of S.O.U.L. and I support gay rights. We were in the first meeting room. When you walk in, all the lights are off; the only light comes from three spotlights. There are people to your left dressed in all black with white masks. The masks have duct tape crossed exes on the eyes and lips to symbolize how no one sees or listens to them. Each one is holding a poster with the trauma and experiences that they had to go through because of their sexual orientation or of someone that they knew. As you pass by, you see a girl in the corner at a table full of empty alcohol bottles and pills. She is cutting herself and there is blood everywhere. Below is a poster of her suicide letter. Around the corner is a girl laying on the floor with barbed wire and blood on her. She pleads for help before “they” come back to beat her up more. No one helps her as you exit the room. I was one of the people wearing a mask and holding up a poster.
During the whole tour, the tour guides would boss you around and call you names and put you down. It was terrifying. All they did was yell at you, which leads me to the second room. In the second room there is two girls sitting in the library studying. One is reading while the other is on her laptop. There are three girls circling around them, verbally abusing them. Calling them names, knocking their books to the ground, and making them feel less than dirt. When one of the girls stands up and tells them to stop, she is struck back down in her seat as they pester them more. The third room was just a video of hazing in fraternities and sororities. The fourth room was pitch black as well. A light was shone on a girl sitting in front of a mirror, talking to herself about how she is such a bad girl because she can never make her mother proud. She then goes to question whether or not she should even live. The light goes off and then is shone on another girl in her pajamas, pacing back and forth next to her bed. She voices how she is a lesbian and she doesn’t know how she’s going to tell her mother. She calls herself dirty and the questions her life as well. The light turns off and is shone on the last girl. She is in her bra and underwear with dotted lines all over he body where she plans on getting plastic surgery. She is pretty skinny yet when she looks in the mirror she insults herself about how fat and ugly she is. This just shows how the media really affects women and their self-images.
The fifth room looks like a waiting room for a doctor’s office. Two girls that don’t know each other are each reading a magazine and waiting to see the doctor. Then two girls walk in chanting and holding up signs about how abortion is bad. They were screaming in the girls’ faces calling them murders. So I assumed that we were at an abortion clinic and they were waiting to abort their pregnancy. The last room had a setting of a bar. The bartender was cleaning up the bar, talking to a customer. The customer was complaining about how he didn’t get laid that night. Next to him is a girl passed out with an empty beer bottle in her hand. The bartender asks him if he’s a friend of hers. He says no they wakes the girl up and buys her a beer. He says that she has to drink it cause he bought it for her. She drinks it then drunkenly goes back to his place and passes out on his bed. He says that he only brought her back to his apartment for one thing and he’s not going to stop even if she is passed out from having one too many beers. This was an example of a date rape.
The whole point for the Tunnel of Oppression was to open the eyes of the public and show that these things really happen. That they still go on, even if you don’t see it. These things need to stop and the first step is realizing that there is a problem out there and it’s our job to help. In the last room, we were debriefed. All I remember when I went through the tunnel was the feeling of a heavy brick weighing itself on my chest and making it hard to breathe. I never want to feel that way again. Being a part of the S.O.U.L. club lets me take that chance to change things, to change the way people think of homosexuals, bisexuals, or transvestites. I am glad that I am a part of a campus that would do such an even as the Tunnel of Oppression.