I spent the moments before getting out of bed this morning, 4/16/13, feeling helpless, as though there was nothing I could do to aid the situation. However, that is the mentality that whoever bombed our beautiful city would want me to have. I cannot just sit silently.

I was four blocks from the site. I knew all seven of my fellow Emerson College students that were injured and two of the three Emerson runners. I almost went to the finish line myself. An act of terror happened four blocks to home. It is utterly frightening, not just to me but to my entire city. But this fear doesn’t seem to be the focal point of the conversation surrounding the event.  And that it a beautiful thing.

America is no stranger to acts of terror. But the reaction to the Boston Marathon Bombing is astoundingly different than any act in the past. From the actions of the immediate responders to the response of the media, heroic support has been the theme. The marathon runners kept running towards the Hospital to give blood. Restaurants opened their doors to runners on a “pay if you can” basis. A Google document was started where Boston citizens offered what they could for those stranded, offering places to stay, shower, eat, and rides.  In the videos, as comedian Patton Oswald pointed out, people are not running away from the explosion, rather towards it. He writes, “If it’s one person or a HUNDRED people [terrorists], that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out.”

There has been article after article from sites like Business Insider to Huffington Post focusing on the acts of bravery and kindness in response to the incident. On Facebook, my fellow Bostonians have changed their cover photos to Boston based images with captions like, “Stay Strong, Boston Strong” and “Pray for Boston”.  There have been numerous tweets and Facebook posts pointing out the positives, that people are not just reacting, but acting in response. There has been tweet after tweet quoting the Presidents and his encouraging words to Boston. Some of my fellow Emersonians have created a fundraiser selling Boston Strong t-shirtsto raise money for the victims and repair.

It is the people providing each other aid, not waiting for a government service to do it for them. There was no sense of “oh, how sad, but I can’t do anything about it” ringing in the ears of the people. Bostonians took it upon themselves to makes sure that their fellow citizens were cared for. My entire school is eager to help in anyway that we can, our hands are itching to repair.

All of this positive media attention combined with reaction from the people makes this incident different than any act of terror—which I have lived through—before. Perhaps the media has finally got it right: focusing on the perpetrator will do the public no good for it only breeds hate. Beauty from ashes can only be achieved if the public is focusing on how to help and who has been helping. As Mr. Rogers said, “look for the helpers.”

For now, we have responded with terrific acts of kindness to a horrendous act of terror.

That in itself has thwarted the intent of the perpetrator. We have responded, not with hate and fear, not with finger pointing and extremism, but with support and selflessness to those around us. The hateful act of few cannot outnumber the good of millions. Terrorism will never win because humanity, at its core, cares too much about its fellow man to let that happen.  Huffington Post editor Howard Fineman said, “In the end, the terrorists will fail because Bostonians did not turn from their fellow men — they turned toward them.”

Yesterday we were shell-shocked. Today we are healing. But, the underlying layer is that we are strong, Boston strong.

            An online Facebook confessional. Steubenville rape trial. Excessive media attention. Victim blaming. It doesn’t matter which screen we turn on, we can’t escape the negative stigma surrounding victims of sexual assault—even in our precious college bubble. Especially in our precious college bubble. Here is an example found on the Emerson Confessional page: “So many men’s lives are absolutely ruined by the stain of 'rapist' because they have had sex with a girl who they assume is consenting.” Needless to say, a 60-comment debate filled with threats, angry replies, and more disheartening, victim blaming statements followed.

In light of all of the negative media attention rape has received in the past few months (on Emerson Campus and on national news), I wanted to provide something provocative and empowering. There is an incredibly—and in my opinion unjustified—amount of victim blaming surrounding sexual assault. I wanted to something that would make women feel empowered, sexy, and unencumbered by hideous societal judgment on clothing.

Here’s the thing: a woman is never asking to be raped. People are projecting the opposite if they comment on the victim’s alcohol level and style of clothing. Rape is always the rapist’s fault. End of story. I don’t care if a woman if walking down the street with nothing on but a smile, she is not asking to be assaulted, abused, and humiliated.

“My Little Black Dress Does Not Mean Yes” is a slogan floating around the Internet that spoke to me. I had several hopes for a photo campaign surrounding this slogan—and the idea that a woman or man is never asking for it. I had hoped that it would allow for participants to not only feel attractive, but to feel freed from societal stigmas that have surface in the media. I had hoped that these pictures would be seen by victims who may feel wrongly at fault and take a second look at why they feel that way. I had hoped to have at least a miniscule impact on opinions and to provide an opportunity for women of Emerson to feel freely fierce.