Male responsibility for rape and rape awareness

By Charlie Jones

Unfortunately, most men do not yet even recognize that there is a problem here, and fewer still acknowledge responsibility for any part of it. As a result, rape is seen, if at all, as a "women's issue". The impression remains that men are in no way connected to sexual assault, neither in its occurrence, nor through its effects, nor by its causes.

ONE IN THREE WOMEN AND ONE IN NINE MEN, WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

It is important that we as men begin to see how this cultural reality by itself has great impact on our lives. We are connected to this world in which women (and men) are assaulted and we are connected to the women who are forced to adjust their behavior accordingly. These connections - through the effects of sexual violence against women should not be for us a 'women's issue". As women are affected whether or not they are actually raped, our lives as men are greatly changed whether or not we are actually the assailants.

WHERE DO ALL THESE RAPISTS COME FROM?

Men rape. This is Fact One, and no discussion of sexual assault should distract us from this reality. Historically, men have always denied and evaded Fact One. That is Fact Two, and no discussion of the causes of sexual assault should deflect us from this responsibility. Recognition of reality and acknowledgment of responsibility can come with great difficulty to most men. Evasions, denials, and defensiveness, however, miss the point and simply will no longer suffice

SEXUAL OBJECTS MAKE SEXUAL TARGETS

The story of sexual assault in our culture is not just about rape. Rapists are not born, they are made, And remade. And the culture which makes "them" also makes "us". The question of why (some) men rape is thus connected to the question of why sexual violence is tolerated. This connection exists at a double intersection: between attitudes and actions, between violence and notions of masculinity. We are all connected to these intersections because this is where we have grown up as men.

Men have the power collectively to end rape. Unfortunately, so far, this male collectively appears to be composed mainly of men who rape, men who hold attitudes similar to rapists, and men who undoubtedly do care in our own personal lives yet remain quiet in the community where rape takes place.

The raising of the Question is far more important than its phrasing. Consider ...

HOW WOULD OUR LIVES BE DIFFERENT IF THERE WERE NO SEXUAL VIOLENCE?

Men Can Help Stop Violence Against Women

WHAT IS SEXUAL ASSAULT?

It is not an act of sex, it is a violent, brutal assault.

It happens to our loved ones, our friends, our family. It happens to one in three women. It happens to men.

It is sex without permission. It is an act of power and dominance.

It is a result of men's anger. It is a man's way of avoiding his own sense of inadequacy.

It is learned behavior.

WHAT CAN MEN DO ABOUT IT?

Speak out against sexual assault. Making it a public issue can influence attitudes. Rapists speak in a male voice and act in our name. If it's not OK, say so in your voice. Others will listen.

Examine your own attitudes.

Many men say they are against rape and yet believe it is OK to force sex under certain circumstances

Pay some attention to the language men use to refer to women or sex.

Why do so many of our descriptions depend upon objectification and violence? In any event, sexual objects quickly become sexual targets and, in this culture, sexual violence is one of the results.

Educate yourself about what sexual assault really means.

The Rape Crisis Center has a lot of material on the subject. You can also call and request a male advocate. We don't have the "answer". but it's worth raising some questions. The service is free, so take advantage and talk freely.

Talk with other men about sexual assault.

We learned the myths from each other growing up, maybe now we can share what it actually means.

Report abuse. Interrupt harassment.

Rape jokes are not funny.

Listen to women.

No sexual assault survivor is ever at fault, no one wants to be assaulted. The assailant had the choice not to victimize in the first place. He did it.

Give women a chance to express their feelings.

No one overreacts to an assault. The fear that women carry with them every day is well-founded.

Remember, we are the men in the lives of the women who are affected. And, remember, there is no way to tell who's an assailant until it happens.

Many of us are men who do care and try to live personally in ways that are not threatening to the women we know. This is good and it is not enough. Men who resent having to bear any of the burden of what other men do should keep in mind that every woman would also like to be accepted as an individual human being.

Support our local Rape Crisis Center and other groups that work to empower women- It's in all our interests to end sexual violence and it will take the concern, caring, and commitment of all of us acting in our interest.

Be glad that you are a man and have the power to help stop the violence that affects everybody.

Email: mrosen8693@aol.com