stopviolenceuw

This One’s for the Boys

In Uncategorized on September 27, 2011 at 4:14 pm

A lot of attention gets paid to the female victims and the women supports of violence prevention efforts.  Guys are often left out of the equation – and that’s unfortunate because guys are very much a part of and a solution to the problem! 

Sexual violence is NOT just a women’s issue!

In fact, statistics show that 10% of men will be a victim of sexual violence during his lifetimeThere are FAR more male survivors out there than we realize.  You probably know someone who is a survivor without even knowing it.

Aside from male victims, a lot of time, guys feel confused or unsure of what to do when it comes to sexual violence; many don’t even really know how to define it.  They know that rape is bad but don’t recognize a lot of the “gray” areas that constitute sexual assault.  In addition, many men will say, “Well, I would never do that.”  Which is brilliant, which is great – but this country is full of well meaning men like this and still sexual violence persists.  Why?

A lot of it stems from the little, every day things that we don’t really pay any attention to, miniscule pieces of (often) verbal violence that gnaw away at the good intentions of individuals.  These are called “micro-aggressions.”  For more examples, visit this blog: http://microaggressions.com/

For example, today on www.askmen.com, a post about Scarlett Johanssen reads: “Scarlett Johansson’s phone may have been hacked, but given the photos, she has nothing to be ashamed of.”  This micro-aggression invalidates any feelings of violation Scarlett may have because her phone was hacked and personal photos were publicly posted.  Now, to some it may seem like this is a compliment — that askmen.com is saying that she’s so attractive, that these naked pictures are nothing to be ashamed of because she’s so gorgeous.  However, despite any postive intentions askmen.com intended by this comment, it does not change the fact that they are invalidating any feelings of victimization Scarlett may be experiencing and, also, gives a small public nod of approval to the dissemination of personal, private naked photographs, so long as the subject is attractive enough that people will want to see them. 

By participating in conversations that belittle, demean, or devalue a given group (in this case, women), we allow these attitudes to persist and pollute the culture.  For example, when you’re out with a group of guys and one of your buddies hollers to a girl walking by, “Hey, baby!  Why don’t you bring that sweet ass over here?”  What’s the usual response?  The group laughs a little and everyone moves on, right?

This is a micro-aggression – a belittling of the woman walking by from a human being with thoughts, opinions and emotions, to a hot piece of ass, a sexual object.  By laughing along and not saying anything, the group is allowing this violence to continue.

Ted Bunch, a sexual violence prevention activist and co-founder of “A Call to Men” (http://www.acalltomen.com/index.php), says that these micro-aggressions and belittling beliefs “can’t exist unless we allow them to…our silence is our permission.”

That’s a pretty powerful statement – “Our Silence Is Our Permission.”

Basically, whatever our beliefs, our personal thoughts, or good intentions, by remaining silent to these little acts of violence, we are giving permission to others to continue thinking about and treating women in this manner.

In this, we are ALL implicated: men and women.  We all participate in little micro-aggressions that gnaw away at the value and humanity of the other.  It’s time for that to end.

Here at the University of Wyoming we are taking strides to ensure that violence on campus stops.  Since this post is, aptly titled, for the boys, I’m only going to talk about our male involvement efforts.  Ladies, there are plenty of opportunities for you as well – please visit www.uwyo.edu/stop to learn more about it.

Now, fellas, we are in the process of beginning a brand new RSO entitled M.A.N. (Men’s Action Network).  This will be an active group of men who want to make a difference in sexual violence and become a part of the solution by working to end micro-aggressions and raising awareness about sexual assault on campus.  They intend to be action-oriented and actually DOING something about sexual violence, instead of sitting around a table and talking about what they could do.

If you are interested in joining this groundbreaking organization, please contact me at jarthur2@uwyo.edu

There is something that EVERYONE can do to end sexual violence.  It is NOT just a women’s issue – it’s everyone’s issue.

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