Thursday, April 25, 2013

Sexual Assault Awareness Month---Men in the Movement: The Final Installment

So before I post my final question to these awesome guys working in the anti-rape movement, I want to say how ABSOLUTELY GRATEFUL I am for their participation in this blog series as well as for their participation in trying to end sexual violence. I have so much positive hope for our future because of this blog series and because these voices exist in the world. 

Now, my final question: Is there part of the anti-sexual violence movement that you think keeps men from engaging in it?

A1. "What we say matters.  I've attended workshops and lectures where well-meaning facilitators and speakers use language that implies that sexual violence is a women's issue.  For example, by only using female pronouns when talking generally about victims, we perpetuate the misconception that men cannot be victims of rape.  Another problem is representing perpetrators of sexual violence as "evil monsters," rather than as people who make terrible decisions.  If we dehumanize the perpetrators of any atrocity, then we are telling ourselves that we, and those we love and respect, are incapable of committing such crimes.  The truth is that we are all capable of violent acts, just as we are all capable of self-control and compassion."

A2. "a.     The misandry movement. When women paint all men with the brush of irredeemable rapists there’s no room for dialogue and no reason to be engaged if all the effort doesn’t see an effect.
b.     Fear. I’ve seen it at gaming conventions where someone is displaying harassing behaviour and there’s looks of disgust and embarrassment and shame but that’s all they are is looks. I’ve felt absolutely terrified when speaking out against certain behaviour because I didn’t want to be seen as causing trouble or embarrassing someone who may just be socially inept and not on a slippery slope to sexual predation. That being said I have spoken out, and have been chastised as less than a man for doing so, but that’s the culture we live in: a feminist is someone who hates men, and a ‘beta rabbit’ (which is what I was called, some allusion to being prey for alphas) is a man who is seen to have feminist (or at least common decency) ideals."

A3. "There’s definitely a stigma to being a male feminist. I constantly have it questioned, people assume you have some other motives. It’s also less comfortable than ignoring it. Life is short and if you have won the privilege lottery and do not have any discrimination that’s making your life difficult then ignoring them all and just saying “them’s the brakes” can be a tempting option. Normalising feminism should be the key. Making it part of the curriculum at an early age, teaching boys about sexual harassment before it’s too late to change their thought process, applying zero tolerance towards rape culture and it’s supporters."

A4. "Two reasons. First I think a lot of guys think that it’s not a real problem. That they do not understand the ways and magnitudes sexual assault can hurt people- not only the victim but also the people who love them. Second, I think a lot of guys feel that this is a woman’s issue. And that they would be intruding or unwanted.  

To the first point I would say that listening to women (and men) who do tell their stories will show the degree to which these actions rend apart relationships, families and communities. Hopefully that will help convince them that this is not just a woman’s issue, and that as long as they are compassionate, earnest and willing to listen then they will be welcomed into the movement."

A5. "I think there are misconceptions about the anti-sexual violence movement, and the feminist movement in particular. The most prevalent being that feminists are women who hate men – quite the contrary, I’ve found. The current patriarchal definition of masculinity assumes we’re animals who can’t control our actions and can’t take responsibility or be committed to true equality. Feminism believes that men can be better. Feminism demands that men be better.

Many men don’t believe that sexual violence affects them. To those men, I would suggest they talk to a woman in their life that they care about and ask them how their lives would be different if the threat of men’s violence against women didn’t exist(sexual assault, sexual harassment, domestic violence, and stalking) - and really listen to what they say. Don’t talk or respond. As men we are socialized to fix the situation. Resist that urge. From there, think about the ways you can support women in your life and work to end sexual violence."

A6. "Having not been deeply involved in it myself, outside of reading about it, and talking to people online, I've never personally felt pushed out of the movement, but I can imagine a scenario in which I might feel uncomfortable. I'm very aware of other people's emotional needs, and I think sometimes women need an opportunity to commune with each other without any men around. Male students dominating classrooms discussions comes to mind, for example, but that said, I think there's no reason men can't be involved in the movement against sexual violence against women while being willing to stand on the sidelines sometimes. You don't always have to be the focus of an issue to lend a hand. Sometimes just being an ally is enough."

Stay tuned tomorrow where I will post Male Ally Tips from the Prevention and Education Specialist at Rape Victim Advocates!!! And thanks again, guys.


Matthew MacNish said...

This whole series has been pretty much the best thing ever.

MK said...

A6 here.

Unknown said...

I am thankful for people like you who advocate fighting sexual harassment. Prevention being the best weapon against it, you start by being aware! Sexual harassment incidents and the harms that come along with it can be reduced if people are aware of what to avoid and how to defend themselves against possible perpetrators. I wish you luck on your endeavors!
– Vesta Duvall @