How Men Can Help
If you’re a guy wondering what you can do to help prevent sexual violence in our community, consider these tips:
- Approach gender violence as everyone’s issue. Gender-based violence is a public health concern, and it takes a full community effort to stop it! Do not view men only as perpetrators or possible offenders, but also as empowered bystanders and allies.
- If a brother, friend, classmate or teammate is abusing his female partner — or is disrespectful or abusive to girls and women in general — don’t look the other way. Try to talk to him about it. Urge him to seek help. If you don’t know what to do, consult a friend, a parent, a professor, a coach or a counselor. DON’T REMAIN SILENT.
- Have the courage to question your own attitudes. Don’t be defensive when something you do or say ends up hurting someone else. Try hard to understand how your own attitudes and actions might inadvertently perpetuate sexism and violence, and work toward changing them.
- If you suspect that a woman close to you is being abused or has been sexually assaulted, gently ask if you can help.
- If you are emotionally, psychologically, physically or sexually abusive to women, or have been in the past, seek professional help NOW. Resources in this booklet — like the YWCA of Missoula, Missoula City/County Crime Victim Advocate Program, the Student Advocacy Resource Center on the UM campus, or First Step — can help you find professional assistance.
- Be an ally to women who are working to end gender violence. Support the work of campus-based women’s centers. Attend prevention rallies and other public events. If you belong to a team, campus club, fraternity or other student group, organize a fundraiser.
- Recognize and speak out against homophobia and gay bashing. Discrimination and violence against lesbians and gays are wrong. This abuse also has direct links to sexism. (For instance, the sexual orientation of men who speak out against sexism is often questioned. This is a conscious or unconscious strategy intended to silence them, and can be a key reason few men speak out.)
- Attend programs, take courses, watch films and read articles and books about multicultural masculinities, gender inequality and the root causes of gender violence.
- Don’t fund sexism. Refuse to purchase any magazine, rent any video, subscribe to any website or buy any music that portrays girls or women in a sexually degrading or abusive manner. Protest sexism in the media.
- Mentor and teach young boys about how to be men in ways that don’t involve degrading or abusing girls and women. Volunteer to work with gender violence prevention programs.
From Ten Things Men Can Do To Prevent Gender Violence. Jackson Katz
AVOID COMMITTING SEXUAL ASSAULT
Clearly understand what sexual assault is and stay attuned to your own behaviors:
- Hold out for enthusiasm. In general, it’s easy to tell if someone is enthusiastic about an encounter or not. Take any signs of reluctance or refusal — including nonverbal signs — very seriously. If the signs are ambiguous be sure to stop, and then check in by asking permission. Ask or wait for an enthusiastic “YES” before moving to the next level.
- You or your partner can stop what is happening at any moment, no matter how far things have gone. If your partner asks you to stop, respect this request every time.
- Sexual assault of any kind is a crime. This includes “taking things a little too far.” You can be arrested, tried and sent to prison.
- Assumptions are dangerous for you and your partner. Just because someone agrees to go home with you, it doesn’t mean he or she wants to have sex. If your partner consents to kissing or other intimate activities, that doesn’t mean he or she is consenting to all sexual activities.
- Past consent doesn’t necessarily mean “yes” every time. Even if someone has had sex with you before, if you force him or her to have sex again it’s rape.
- If you have sex with someone who is incapable of consenting it’s rape, whether the person is drugged, highly intoxicated or passed out.
- Don’t be pressured into participating in violent acts because the rest of the group is. Whether it’s violent hazing or outright gang rape, it can land you in prison. In fact, in such situations you should step in to protect the victim or remove yourself from the circumstance and call 911.