This is gonna be a challenge for some of you to digest…but walk with me for a minute.
I wanted to take a minute to express some of what I’m seeing in regards to important conversations of sex, rape, and the responsibility that men holdto stop rape.
IMO, the current narrative is lopsided and lacking in depth and has dichotomized groups of men and women that should be having more inclusive conversations. Women don’t hold the key and all of the answers about rape and rape culture. It’s this approach that keep some men from really owning their responsibility. Some of you will say, it’s not women’s role to make men feel comfortable to have the conversation. You’re absolutely right. But taking what we know about how men are socialized in western society…the last thing we want is men to resort to only talking to other men about their sexual relationships with women. Additionally, boys and men, collectively aren’t having developmental conversations about their role in preventing rape.
I used to direct a leadership program in DC that worked with young men in high school. These young men were from all across the spectrum of academic performance, ethnicity, and social socio-economic status. We had very honest and open conversations with them about sex, rape, and being an upstander against rape and rape culture. We told the boys…YOU are in control and ultimately responsible for receiving consent from a woman when it comes to sex. We told our boys that if there was no “YES,” then it’s rape. We told our boys that if you’ve had a drink or are drunk…it’s rape; if she’s had a drink or is drunk..:it’s rape. And ultimately YOU are responsible. Sounds cut and dry and pretty simple right? Some of you are nodding in agreement, like YUP..that’s right!!!
Now for my educators…what kind of educational, developmental conversation can be had with young men with such fragmented and dichotomized logic. The young men couldn’t understand how they, at 18 or 19 or 25 years old held the responsibility and the women (in their eyes) had none. But you see…the way young men’s brain work…and how society is talking about rape and rape culture…there’s no room for THINKING: there’s no room for process. It’s either you’re a rapist, rape sympathizer, a moron, misogynistic or insensitive to the hell that rape survivors endure.
The conversation has to be more open. We have to expand the conversation to INCLUDE the perspective of boys and young men so that they FEEL like they have the agency to make an impact as opposed to simply checking a box on a mental consent checklist.
That mindset has not and will continue to NOT WORK. I’m not giving you my opinion. That’s FACT.
IMO, we are completely missing the mark to shift behavior. We are missing the mark when it comes to TEACHING boys about their responsibility in STOPPING rape and UNDERSTANDING the complexities of sexual consent.
This sounds simple to some…but if we are in the mindset of changing behavior and narrative…we have more work to do…TOGETHER.