Men As Powerful Allies in Sexual Assault Prevention & Awareness
Prevention, at its core, is about changing social norms and beliefs that make violence acceptable in society. Sexual violence is connected to all forms of oppression, but sexism (or the belief that women and girls are less valuable than men and boys), is one of the strongest forces. Although the anti-sexual violence and feminist movements have done tremendous work and education around sexism and how harmful it is to women and girls, men and boys have not historically been part of this conversation.
Traditionally, many rape prevention programs and sexual assault crisis centers have not actively recruited or engaged men as volunteers and staff members. Recently however, there has been an evolution of sorts that has added a progression toward prevention education in new and innovative ways. These efforts have been better able to address some of the problems surrounding peer and male/female relationships, and have begun to show anti-sexual violence advocates that change is possible. Ending sexual violence means transforming a culture of rape and effecting true social change. It means raising male awareness and actively challenging men to examine what it means to be masculine. In order to successfully transform and change societal attitudes, rape can no longer be seen as solely a “women’s issue”, but instead as an issue that affects both genders. Together women and men have the power to end rape.
As men, you can begin to look critically at how your own behaviors and attitudes might contribute to a campus culture that tacitly supports sexism and violence, and challenge each other to pursue a full, healthy vision of masculinity. Men at SMU can help stop rape and sexual assault by educating themselves about the facts of these crimes and serving as allies with women in preventing rape and other forms of violence.
Men's Pledge To End Sexual Violence
I Pledge to End Sexual Violence Because . . .
- I understand that what I do and say can either encourage or discourage stereotypes that can lead to sexual violence.
- I believe that rape will not end until men become part of the solution.
- I take pride in myself as a man.
- I understand that real men do not use their power to rape.
- I care about the women in my life.
- I am angry that people I know have been hurt.
- I know that a woman is raped every 3 minutes in this country.
- I understand that rape is a crime of violence against victims’ bodies, emotional well-being, and right to do with their bodies what they choose.
- I recognize that men and women will not be equal until rape ends.
- I know that happiness between men and women is difficult in a world where rape exists.
- I accept my responsibility to assist in making this a safer world.
Thus, I Promise to . . .
- To take a stand and never commit, condone, accept, or stay silent about sexual violence
- To challenge other men to recognize that they can be powerful without making others powerless
- To encourage all men to work together with women, using their collective voices and resources
- Speak my anger about rape
- Talk with other men about rape
- Look at how we create a culture where rape is possible by the way men are raised
- Interrupt rape or sexist jokes
- Support laws that encourage men to take responsibility for ending rape
- Listen to women friends’ fears and concerns for their safety
- Pay attention to cries for help
- Challenge images of violence against women in advertising and pornography
- Encourage women to be strong and powerful
- Recognize that cooperation is power
- Change whatever I am doing that helps create a culture where rape is possible
- Support women and men working to end rape.
* Original version of this statement by the California Anti-Sexist Men’s Political Caucus.
Become a responsible Bystander and learn how to speak up, create awareness and prevent potentially harmful situations.
- Realize how other men's uncaring or wrong behavior might affect your own life. Some woman or man that you care about may have been raped. Understand that this person might need your support but might be unable to enter into a relationship at the present time. Also realize that some women who have been raped might feel distrustful of men in general.
- Confront other men's rape jokes and remarks; relate to others why these jokes are not funny and the harm they can cause.
- Confront other men's harassment--verbal or physical--of women. Most women don't consider it flattery but rather a reminder of their vulnerability to rape.
- Educate other men about what rape really is. Help them to clear up any misconceptions they might have.
- Confront potential rape scenes. When you see a man verbally harassing a woman, stand by to see if she needs help. If a man is hitting or holding a woman against her will, do something immediately to help her.
- When walking in groups of men or alone be conscious as you approach a woman. Be aware of how afraid she might feel, and give her space on the street if possible.
- Be supportive of women's actions to control their own lives and make their own decisions. Don't be afraid to express these ideas.
- Be aware of campus resources and help direct others in need of professional assistance. If someone you know has expressed violent feelings or demonstrated violent behavior in a particular relationship with someone, try to help him find an appropriate person with which to talk. See the On & Off Campus Resource Page
Alternatives to Coerciveness
- Listen carefully. Take the time to hear what the woman is saying. If you feel she is not being direct or is giving you a "mixed message", ask for a clarification.
- Don't fall for the common stereotype that when a woman says "No" she really means "Yes". "No" means "No". If a woman says "No" to sexual contact, believe her and stop.
- Remember that date rape is a crime. It is never acceptable to use force in sexual situations, no matter what the circumstances.
- Don't make assumptions about a woman's behavior. Don't automatically assume that a woman wants to have sex just because she drinks heavily, dresses provocatively, or agrees to go to your room. Don't assume that just because a woman has had sex with you previously she is willing to have sex with you again. Also don't assume that just because a woman consents to kissing or other sexual intimacies she is willing to have sexual intercourse.
- Be aware that having sex with someone who is mentally or physically incapable of giving consent is rape. If you have sex with a woman who is drugged, intoxicated, passed out, incapable of saying "No", or unaware of what is happening around her, you may be guilty of rape.
- Be especially careful in group situations. Be prepared to resist pressure from friends to participate in violent or criminal acts.
- "Get involved" if you believe someone is at risk. If you see a woman in trouble at a party or a male friend using force or pressuring a woman, don't be afraid to intervene. You may save the woman from the trauma of sexual assault and your friend from the ordeal of criminal prosecution.
- Realize how other men's uncaring or wrong behavior might affect your own life. Some woman that you know may have been raped. Understand that this person might need your support but might be able to enter into a relationship at the present time. Also realize that some women who have been raped might feel distrustful of men in general. This is not an abnormal reaction to such a traumatizing experience.
- Be aware of suspicious characters. In dormitories or other residences, men can also help by paying attention to strangers who appear to be wandering around the building. Ask them who they are looking for, and report suspicious behavior to University Police.
How to Be a Responsible Partner
- Consider your partner's feelings. Think about whether you really want to have sex with someone who doesn't want to have sex with you; how will you feel afterwards if your partner tells you s/he didn't want to have sex.
- If you are getting a double message from a woman, speak up and clarify what she wants. If you find yourself in a situation with a woman who is unsure about having sex or is saying "no," back off. Suggest talking about it.
- Be sensitive to women who are unsure whether they want to have sex. If you put pressure on them, you might be forcing them.
- Do not assume you both want the same degree of intimacy. She might be interested in some sexual contact other than intercourse. There may be several kinds of sexual activity you might mutually agree to share.
- Stay in touch with your sexual desires. Ask yourself if you are really hearing what she wants. Do not let your desires control your actions.
- Communicate your sexual desires honestly and as early as possible.
- Do not assume her desire for affection is the same as a desire for sex.
- Don't take offense. A woman who turns you down for sex is not necessarily rejecting you as a person; she is expressing her decision not to participate in a single act at that time.
- No one asks to be raped. No matter how a woman behaves, she does not deserve to have her body used in ways she does not want.
- Alcohol or drugs are not an excuse. The fact that you were intoxicated is not a legal defense to rape. You are responsible for your actions, whether you are drunk or sober.
- Be aware that a man's size and physical presence can be intimidating to a woman. Many victims report that the fear they felt based on the man's size and presence was the reason why they did not fight back or struggle.
- Men Can Stop Rape
- National Organization for Men Against Sexism
- Men Stopping Violence
- Men’s Resource Center for Change
- Men Stopping Rape
- National Sexual Violence Resource Center
- RAINN: Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network
- U.S. Dept. of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women
- The Voices and Faces Project
Adapted from: Men Against Sexual Violence