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Category: Education

A Sexual Revolution: Men Can Stop Rape

April 13, 2010

It's Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Let me begin by saying that without exception, every woman I know has either experienced or knows someone who has experienced rape on college campuses. But even for its frequency, and its traumatizing consequences, sexual assault at college – especially date rape – is often met with a shrug, or (who hasn't heard this) that the woman in question was asking for it. This calm-down-feminists-it's-just-your-bodies-and-humanity-at-stake attitude is distilled perfectly, and enragingly, in a recent opinion column from American University by AU sophomore Alex Knepper, which decries date rape as an "incoherent concept," and claims that consent is an ineffective measure because it can be "very blurry." Acknowledging that sexual situations can be ambiguous is not news. Denying that men hold any responsibility in these situations is not only cowardly but dangerous. Victim-blaming persists – and women are shamed out of reporting assault – because of just this kind of reasoning. Men Can Stop Rape, an organization dedicated to mobilizing male youth to prevent men's violence against women, has provided a list of five things college men can do to prevent date rape. In its name and its work, Men Can Stop Rape counters standard ideas of how to prevent sexual assault: that women should be more careful (the underlying message being: if they're not, men can't be held responsible). "We build young men's capacity to challenge harmful aspects of traditional masculinity," their mission reads, "to value alternative visions of male strength, and to embrace their vital role as allies with women and girls in fostering healthy relationships and gender equity." That's what I call sexual revolution. They've also provided a downloadable Student Toolkit for Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Check it out, and please: forward it to the college students you know. Courtesy of Men Can Stop Rape, here are five things college men can do to prevent date rape: 1. Does kissing mean that a person wants to have sex? How do you know? When a situation is unclear, asking before you act will ensure safe and healthy sex for everyone. 2. Accept when consent is withdrawn. Even after a person has given their consent, that person can withdraw it at any time. We all deserve the right to change our minds. 3. If a person is drunk or high and can’t give consent, back off and wait until you both are sober. 4. You’ve heard of designated drivers. Now use the same principle to prevent rape. At a party, designate someone among your group of friends to keep an eye on a guy that might be behaving in ways that could lead to sexual violence. 5. You probably will never see a rape in progress, but you will hear attitudes and see behaviors that degrade women and promote a culture of violence. When your friend tells a rape joke, let him know it’s not funny.

Tags: Feminism

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