5 Ways We Can Teach Men Not to Rape<br />

5 Ways We Can Teach Men Not to Rape

Zerlina Maxwell offers ways to prevent rape without making women responsible for the crimes committed against them

Zerlina Maxwell

by Zerlina Maxwell, March 11, 2013

5 Ways We Can Teach Men Not to Rape<br />


3. Teach young men how to express healthy masculinity: “The question that’s being asked about what women can do to prevent violence against them is the wrong question.  It’s not what can a woman say or do that can prevent being attacked.  We need to turn that paradigm upside down.  We need to focus on the messages that men are getting and about how they relate to women.  We also need to focus on what messaging men are getting about women and about what kind of women get raped,” Eesha Pandit, the Executive Director of Men Stopping Violence told EBONY.

Most importantly, “we have to...redefine what masculinity means...rape is not about evil in the world.  It’s about power and control, in relationships and in the world.  The messages that men get around masculinity from a young age are too often about violence and about exerting power and control.  We need to challenge the definition of masculinity as inherently violent,” says Pandit.

4. Teach young men to believe women and girls who come forward: The vast majority of women do not report their rapes to the police and many more only tell one or two people in confidence.  That is a result of our proclivity towards victim blaming. What were you wearing? How much did you drink? Why were you there in the first place?  When we hear about a rape case in the news or when we hear about one in our own lives, the first reaction should be to believe and support the accuser.  There is a misleading perception that many or most rape claims are false.  That is simply untrue.  When a victim comes forward, they are committing an act of extreme bravery, and we owe it to them, to support (leaving the criminal investigation to law enforcement) them and place blame directly and solely on the perpetrator.  In Steubenville, for example, there is photographic proof of the young women being dragged around, and yet the high school coaches and so-called "adults" still questioned whether the victim was lying or implied she asked for it.  No one asks or wants to be raped. 

5. Teach males about bystander intervention: Both Men Stopping Violence and Men Can Stop Rape have bystander intervention workshops for men of all ages.  “It’s about community accountability,” says Pandit, “We require men to talk to other men in their lives and tell them about these programs.  It is important that we have community networks that hold men accountable.”

Monika Hostler President of the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence tells EBONY, “We have to engage men and boys, especially around masculinity and bystander intervention.  In order to end rape, we have to change the culture in how we treat women and girls.”

When we talk about bystander intervention, it’s more about simply intervening when you see someone doing or about to do something wrong, “It’s also about first calling people out for sexist jokes about women and girls.  It’s not just the intervening act, it’s about all of the things that lead up to it.  We degrade and oversexualize women and girls and this contributes to sexual violence.  We must be consistent to get society to understand how sexist jokes are connected to sexual violence.” Our young men shouldn't shift uncomfortably when a peer jokes about bringing home a drunk classmate who can't possible give verbal consent; they should know to speak up and to do all they can to prevent it from happening---even when it simply seems like a vague possibility.

“Society doesn’t fully understand that rape is not about sex.  It’s actually about power and control as a result of hypermasculinity.  Bystander intervention is about intervening with people and peers that you know personally.  These aren’t evil people.  Intervention is all about talking about social and cultural change when people are young.”

Zerlina Maxwell is a political analyst and soon-to-be attorney.  You can follow her on Twitter @ZerlinaMaxwell.

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