Changing the Culture
There are many ways that we, as men, can help fight the acceptance of rape and abuse in our society. By paying attention to and challenging media images, popular culture, and common stereotypes we can begin to deconstruct the types of social perspectives that lead to the tolerance of violence and rape. Click on the Headings below to get more information about what you can do.
Lawyer's in the bedroom? Well, I guess that's one way of making sure everyone's on the same page!
Discussing sex is still fairly taboo in our culture, and there is often the perceived expectation that people are just supposed to “know” what to do. However, none of us will ever “just know” what to do – we have to communicate in order to know what “works” for the individuals that we choose to be with. Knowing that, we encourage all of you to be very vocally communicative in any sexual relationships that you might have, from one-night stands to long-term relationships. Here are some guidelines for doing this and reasons why it’s so important.
- Cooperation does not equal consent: Just because someone is going along with something does not actually mean they are consenting to it. Also, just because someone is dancing with you, or wearing provocative clothing does not mean that they want to sleep with you – it’s important to ask and talk about these things so that you’re both on the same page.
- When in doubt, ask!: If you’re ever with someone intimately and they seem to be uncomfortable or to freeze up, it probably means that they are not feeling ok with the situation. We recommend that you stop what you are doing, ask the person you’re with how they are feeling, and clarify what the two of you can share together. It’s really not going to ruin the mood and it’s as simple as saying something like, “Are you ok?” or “Are you comfortable?”
- Alcohol & Sex – When we drink impulsiveness goes up and decision making clarity goes down. Remember, if someone is intoxicated, they are unable to give consent to sexual contact. We at CARE are firm believers that no one “gets lucky.” If you think you’re only going to have one chance to sleep with someone, it’s probably a good indicator that the situation is non-consensual.
- Respect “No” – When you get a definite “no” from someone, it is important that you respect their boundaries. You’re not going to like everyone that you come across and vice versa – it’s just a fact of life. You wouldn’t want anyone disrespecting your wishes.
RESISTING SEXIST ATTITUDES
Gender stereotypes are so common that many of us accept generalizations of the sexes as “the truth” about what men and women are really like. However, when we closely examine the individuals in our lives, we find that, for the most part, they don’t fit directly into those social molds that have been created.
Sexism is discrimination or devaluation of a person based on their sex. This knife cuts both ways and sexism harms both men and women. We strongly encourage you to resist sexist attitudes that demean women. Support a woman’s ability to define the boundaries of her personal space and means of self-expression.
Further, don’t cater to popular media images and common stereotypes of masculinity. We encourage you to be your own man – to define your masculine self by what you see as fit and right for you.
PAYING ATTENTION TO LANGUAGE AND MEDIA
Language and media influences carry much more weight in our society than we often believe. Some things that you hear and see everyday and seem innocuous actually can contribute to a culture that views rape and violence as a “natural” part of civilized society.
For instance, you might have heard one of your friends say, “Wow, that test just raped me.” But, in reality, the experience of struggling through a difficult test is nothing compared to the trauma and horror that a rape victim feels at the hands of their attacker. The prevalence of comments like this in popular language serve to make rape seem like something that “isn’t so bad” by comparing it to things that are relatively trivial.
Another example is of media ads depicting women and men as purely sexualized objects without any real connection to that which is being advertised. As we know, sex sells. There’s really nothing wrong with using sex as a marketing tool, except that the views of sexuality and attractiveness we are fed are often unrealistic and idealized. They attempt to persuade us to desire a product by making us feel unsatisfied with ourselves. This imagery makes men and women appear to be only interested in finding sex and appearing sexy, which is not only a one-sided view of humanity, but of human sexuality as well.
We at CARE would like to see people paying attention to language and images and how they are used. What do things that you hear and see all the time actually mean? What does it say about our society’s response to certain cultural ills? Are we accepting as tolerable things that are unacceptable in a civilized community? Try to start looking at what’s going on around you and find underlying cultural meanings behind surface commentary.
TALKING TO YOUR FRIENDS
One of the best ways that we as men can prevent violence is by intervening when we see our friends involved in potentially explosive situations. Men are often the most powerful influence on the behavior of their male friends. When you know them well, there are probably many ways that you can find to talk them down from a situation that may lead them to become aggressive. Sometimes this is a tough thing to do, but we have some guidelines here that we hope will help you in these situations.
- Don’t say “It’s not my business” – Violence affects us all, and indifference is one of the worst crimes that we can be guilty of
- Do be complimentary – Fostering your friend’s self-esteem will make him less self-conscious and thus less likely to resort to violence to feel in control or powerful. It’s as easy as telling your friends, “You know, you really don’t have to do that to impress me.”
- Don’t be confrontational – Verbally attacking your friend and telling him his behavior is flat-out wrong is like telling a puppy “bad dog” when it pees in the corner – it’s not going to stop the behavior, he’s just not going to do it when you’re around
- Do let them know you’re looking out for them – This is the whole idea – we need to look out for our friends. Let them know that the reason you’re talking to them about their aggressiveness is because you’re worried about the damage they might do to themselves and your friendship. Be your brother’s keeper.
- Do ask for help if you need it – There are many offices on campus that can help you if you feel like your friend needs counseling for their aggressive behaviors or if you have a friend that is being abused and needs help. Counseling services, CARE, your Residence Coordinator, and the University Police (provide links) are good places to start – if the first person you talk to doesn’t have an answer they will be able to get you in contact with someone who does.
For more information contact:
Phone: (910) 962-7004