Men Preventing Rape

In this past week’s reading entitled “Shifting the Paradigm: Primary Prevention of Sexual Violence,” the American College Health Association (ACHA) created a “toolkit” that spoke about ways to help prevent sexual violence from occurring. One particular section of the toolkit seemed of particular interest to me which dealt with “10 Ways Young Men Can Prevent Sexual Violence” [1].  This section became a strong focus for me considering that I am a man; and I am one who has seen the effects of sexual violence, and the trauma it can inflict on someone.

Incidentally, the Atlanta Journal Constitution published an article on November 18, 2012, called “Sexual Assaults on College Campuses a Problem Nationwide.”  The article was primarily in response to the Emory event “Take Back the Night.” In the article, Laura Diamond and Bo Emerson reported that there have been at least seven rapes this fall semester [2].

Looking back to the ACHA toolkit, the 10 things a man can do to help prevent such incidents were listed as the following:

  1. Define your own manhood.
  2. Take it over.
  3. Understand the ability to consent.
  4. Get a woman’s perspective.
  5. Ask guys.
  6. Be aware of pop culture’s messages.
  7. Choose words carefully.
  8. Speak out.
  9. Get involved.
  10. Show your strength. [1].

Initially looking at this, it seems to be a pretty comprehensive list, and one that I could agree with being potentially useful, but after a couple months of delving into observing sexuality more, there are a few points I would like to draw attention to, particularly, numbers 1 and 10 – define your own manhood and show your own strength.

As a heterosexual male that aligns my gender identity along the “norms” of society, there does not seem to be any difficulty for me relating to this, but like I said previously, this class has added a new perspective when observing these two. Now, I can understand that this toolkit is more than likely aiming to target heterosexual people. What if I were a biological male who wanted to help prevent rape but I identify more as a female though? This seems to be a bit more difficult to comprehend at that point. OK, so I am a third party providing what possibly could be considered an overly critical point, but nonetheless, point number 6 says I should be aware of pop culture messages. This may seem a bit extreme, but what if this toolkit went viral, and I were the later  person that I described? There would certainly be an expectation set upon me as a guy to make sure I defined my manhood. Since this is a blog post and maybe there are some readers out there who do not know who I am, they would say who cares; it is not that big of a deal. But in reality there is a certain expectation of masculinity that goes along with someone of my stature, and I feel this would be particularly unfair to someone who may be more feminine than myself yet is built similarly to me. This of course directly ties into point number 10, showing your strength.

The toolkit says, “Don’t ever have sex with anyone against their will. Make a pledge to be a man whose strength is used for respect, not hurting.” Again, a well-written and intended statement, but in this case it is not what is said, it is what lies underneath the statement. In number 10, this is assuming some form of agency is to be taken by a person. I realize I am potentially speaking about a very extreme case that may only apply to a small amount of people, but it is those few people who are the ones that often go over looked. So again, here could potentially lay another issue for a guy whom is above average in size. This statement also indirectly implies that I would be using my strength at all. The way in which the toolkit is laid out, “a man whose strength is used for respect” would insinuate that my strength is used almost as some form of protector.

As I said before, I realize I am being a bit over critical here, but I have experienced certain challenges being associated with having to maintain a level of masculinity and expectations merely because of my size. Have I completely minded these challenges? No. I have grown to embrace some of them, but I understand this may not be the case for every person. Therefore, it could create issues for other young men as they grow, develop and search to find themselves. Overall, I believe the toolkit to be something that everyone should read, even if is not flawless of every politically correct issue. I have had close friends who have been raped and even girlfriends who have been raped in the past, and if I had read this prior to being exposed to these instances with them, I certainly would have felt more prepared on how to handle it. For those who only skimmed through ACHA reading, go back and read it again because these situations are always closer than you may think.






3 thoughts on “Men Preventing Rape

  1. It is interesting to even observe the construction of a list like this because it is completely up to individual interpretation. In terms of preventing sexual violence, encouraging thought and self control is an effective avenue, yet, as mentioned in the blog, there are a series of circumstances and cognitive processes that can alter the meaning from one person to another.

  2. Just a clarification, 7 rapes have been reported this semester. More than one of those is an accusation related to an event that occurred last year though. It has become significantly easier for women on campus to report these events ever since the first one was publicized. Obviously that doesn’t make it less significant, it just indicates the fear and self-blame that are resulting in under-reporting.

  3. Team STI: I have to admit I am a little bit confused by your post. Early on you are focusing on the two points: “define your own manhood” and “show your strength.” I think your first point is what if I am a cisgendered man but transition into a transgendered woman, how am I to take these messages, is that right? I am not sure I am following your argument about your size. Are you saying that you feel “trapped” in some ways by the fact that you are a man of large stature and that with that stature comes expectations of being “manly” or “powerful”? Help me out.

    For me, “define your own manhood” and “show your strength” means that if society could re-define manhood as being caring and loving and working against sexual violence of all kind we would have a cultural revolution on our hands. And that “showing your strength” could mean standing up for survivors, being allies to them, holding men who assault or abuse or who don’t ask for consent accountable. That it takes a strong man to fight for equality for all people even when it won’t really benefit him directly. What do you think?

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