Sexual violence is a huge problem in the US. Among college-age women, for example, 20-25% report an attempted or completed rape while in college. Assault itself is prevalent enough to constitute a major public health problem, but add to that the sequelae—STIs, PTSD, fear, etc.—and sexual assault isn’t just a major public health problem; it’s one of our most common and devastating public health problems.
Given that most perpetrators of sexual violence are men, we have a target population for prevention. Now, some might argue that focusing on preventing sexual violence by educating men is the wrong approach. After all, why not teach women how not to get raped. Right?
This common argument is one of the reasons we men need education. So let’s take a few minutes, guys, and go over a few things, things I’ve spent a lot of time trying to learn and to understand.
My immediate reaction to his e-mail was, “Fuck you! These specific aims kick fucking ass! And what the fuck do you know, anyway?” This is everyone’s immediate reaction to substantial accurate criticism. Having experienced this a fuckthousand kajillion times, it took me only about 100 milliseconds to sack the fuck up and feel extremely grateful for his penetrating insights. (emphasis mine)
It is important to realize that it isn’t about your feelings as a man, but your behaviors as a man. When a woman says, “that comment about my appearance made me uncomfortable,” that is not your cue to say, “I didn’t mean anything by it,” or “you shouldn’t be offended by my harmless act.” This isn’t about your discomfort. It’s about a woman feeling uncomfortable and maybe threatened. You have no way of intrinsically knowing if your own act is “harmless” or “non-threatening”. For all you know, the woman who you just patted on the back and gave a complement to got the same treatment from her rapist last year. In fact, many rape victims are forced to share the same environment with their rapists and might be a little suspicious of an “innocent” glance or touch.