Men Can Stop Rape: New Ad Campaign Targeting Men Launched

One of my biggest qualms as a professional and lifelong advocate is the clear division that we see after college in the social science and activist realm. What I mean, mostly, is that men are told to enter into “real” careers and forget those true lessons that they attained in college through their advocacy, while women are allowed to delve into fields where one would anticipate requires less logic and more emotion (which, I will personally let you know, is a load of shit). Undoubtedly, as human beings, this might be why parents continue to engender the gender typification; I say this as a non-parent, of course, but as a student of the human condition and behaviors. The lessons that parents and other life teachers delegate are often “gender specific”, and not inclusive to people who do not fit in certain categories as defined by the instructor.

Largely, a vast majority of rape education and prevention techniques (and I certainly have my issues with that) is directly specifically at women, who are 90% of victims. Now, before I go further, I want to make sure that we are clear in exactly what we are discussing (and where I am gathering my statistics). For the sake of clarity, ‘rape’ is defined, and has traditionally been defined, as penal-vaginal forced intercourse, where ‘sexual assault’ has been defined as other forms of sexual violations, including anal, oral, and sodomy with objects. Sexual assault is important to consider because it provides for the inclusion of same-sex forced sex, which is not necessarily indicative of sexual violations within the LGBTQQI community. Instead, it also captures sexual assaults that involve hazing where the perpetrators and victims may identify as heterosexual. While rape does occur in homosexual relationships, people in the LGBT community are more often raped by people who identify as heterosexual especially as a form of “corrective” rape, which is more commonly perpetrated on women who are attracted to women. (If you need to take a minute to think about that, you may do so now. Don’t make me explain to you that rape is not about sex or sexuality, but rather power and control.)

If any of you have been paying attention to the news, the FBI expanded the definition of rape to include forcible oral or anal sexual contact, earlier this month. This is wonderful because it erases the duality in how we perceive forced and involuntary sexual contact, and it provides that the LGBT community is better captured and included as well. However, as I understand it, this new definition thus far is simply for statistics sake and will not change any legal conditions once these crimes have been reported. For the sake of this post, and in focusing on Men Can Stop Rape‘s new ad campaign, let’s continue to address the previous definition of rape on women, and consider involuntary sexual contact specifically on college campuses.

Men Can Stop Rape is an advocacy group based in Washington DC who challenges issues of masculinity, boundaries, and healthy circumstances that include rape prevention and advocacy, toward men. While I take issue with the idea of, and false dichotomy that is, ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity’, their mission is poignant and clear: men are likely to commit sexual offenses and men are likely to listen to other men, so men have the ability to aid in the prevention of these ultimate violations. From their website:

We at Men Can Stop Rape believe that stereotypical masculinity (or any other term you might choose: traditional masculinity, hypermasculinity, hegemonic masculinity, dominant masculinity) is still too much the air that we breathe. It’s something we often take in automatically, unaware. As one of the significant sources of violence against women across the globe, as well as other forms of violence, and as an unconscious source of conflict for many men, stereotypical masculinity causes great harm when it goes unrecognized. We all benefit from consciously developing healthier, non-violent masculinities.

Recently, the organization has created a bystander intervention campaign called the “Where Do You Stand” campaign, intended to get men involved when they notice particular situations going awry. I won’t insult your intelligence by inferring whether or not you know what the ‘bystander effect‘ is (but there’s a link to a wonderful essay, just in case); however, at one point it was estimated that the bystander effect was present during at least 30% of sexual offenses. 30% of the time, a person could have intervened and may have prevented a rape or sexual assault from occurring, or could have called the police once an act was initiated, and did not. As a matter of fact, of you google “bystander effect and rape”, you will find countless results with several different recent news stories. For that reason alone, this campaign is remarkable.
The ad is intended for college campuses and includes the following posters with the materials:

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It really gets tiring as a relatively young, single woman that you should only go out in groups, using the buddy system, holding hands, using code words, watching drinks, and never trusting anyone. I’m suspicious by nature, but I reject the notion that we should leave our houses be afraid of what may be lurking outside in the bushes, especially due to the fact that 40% of rapes and sexual assaults occur in the victim’s home and 2/3 of completed rapes are by a person that the victim knows. I do, however, believe that advocacy and balanced education on all fronts is how we defeat any ailment in our society. Silly enough, those men’s rights groups who think women who want an end to rape are just whiny, bitchy feminists who “want to be men…but want to keep their pussy pass” are hardly worth addressing on this blog. They clearly don’t understand the dynamics of rape or sexual assault, and are comfortable in their own probably-pale bigoted right-wing skin. By all means, live your lives. (I did come across that comment on a men’s rights website, ergo the quotations, and I hope someone Google-bombs the shit out of the website.)