Sexual violence is not just a “women’s issue.” It is everyone’s issue. Here are five reasons we think men should make ending sexual violence a priority:
1. Men are raped.
We don’t like to think about it, and we don’t like to talk about it, but the fact is that men can also be sexually victimized. Studies show that one in 71 men are raped in their lifetimes. Men are not immune to the epidemic of sexual violence, nor are male survivors safe from the stigma that society attaches to victims of rape. Male survivors are often disbelieved, accused of being gay, or blamed for their own victimization when they report an incident of sexual assault. Frequently, they respond, as do many female survivors, by remaining silent and suffering alone.
2. Men rape.
Most men are not rapists, but 98% of all sexually violent crimes are committed by males. Even when men are sexually victimized, other men are most often the perpetrators.
3. Rape confines men.
When some men rape, and when 80% of those who are raped know the man who attacked them, it becomes virtually impossible to distinguish men who are safe from men who are dangerous, men who can be trusted from men who can’t, men who will rape from men who won’t. Rapists don’t come with convenient signs on their foreheads. The result is a society with its guard up, where relationships with men are approached with fear and mistrust, where intimacy is limited by the constant threat of violence, and where all men are labeled “potential rapists.”
4. Men know survivors.
At some point in every man’s life, someone close to him will likely disclose that he or she is a survivor of sexual violence and ask for help. It is important that men learn to respond with care, sensitivity, compassion, and understanding. Ignorance about sexual violence and its impact can only hinder the healing process and contribute to the survivor’s feeling further victimized. A supportive male presence during a survivor’s recovery can be invaluable.
5. Men can stop rape.
Rape is about power and control, not sex. For rape to stop, men who are violent must be empowered to make different choices. All men can play a vital role in this process by challenging rape culture and raising awareness about the impact of sexual violence on survivors. Here are some ways to stop sexual violence: —If a brother, friend, classmate, or teammate is abusing his female partner — or is disrespectful or abusive to girls and women in general — don’t look the other way. Don’t remain silent. —Have the courage to look inward. Question your own attitudes. Don’t be defensive when something you do or say ends up hurting someone else. Try hard to understand how your own attitudes and actions might inadvertently perpetuate sexism and violence, and work toward changing
—Recognize and speak out against homophobia. This abuse has direct links to sexism (e.g., the sexual orientation of men who speak out against sexism is often questioned, a conscious or unconscious strategy intended to silence them).
—Be an ally to women who are working to end all forms of gender violence. Support the work of campus-based women’s centers. Attend “Take Back the Night” rallies and Women of Amherst shows. If you belong to a team or fraternity, or another student group, organize a fundraiser.
—Join the Amherst College Men’s Initiative. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Together, we can make our campus safer and more respectful for everyone.
Jackson Katz, “Ten Things Men Can Do to Prevent Gender Violence” (999). <http://www.jacksonkatz.com/wmcd.html> Men Can Stop Rape, “Rape: A Men’s Issue” (2001). <http://www.svfreenyc.org/media/factsheets/fsht_2.pdf>