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Men Can Stop Rape: “This Is Your Issue”

7 February 2012 4 Comments

New York MOST Club

- By Mary Liepold
Editor In Chief

The subject was sexual harassment and sexual assault. Both sides of the long conference table were filled with young men, most of them ignoring the pizza on their plates and waving their hands in the air in their eagerness to speak. Standing at the back of the room, where I was, and in chairs along the sides were a handful of women.

The facilitators, Kedrick Griffin, Senior Director of Programs for Men Can Stop Rape (MCSR), and Joe Vess, Director of Training, presented two scenarios, one involving harrassment and the other potential assault. The 35 men who had come to DC’s Georgetown University campus from three colleges and two area high schools offered a total of 13 practical interventions to stop the abuse. And it wasn’t all theory; many were strategies they had already used successfully.

The scene was the January 31, 2012 launch of Where Do You Stand?, a partnership between MCSR and the American Association of University Women (AAUW). Like the women in the room, though, the AAUW is involved primarily as supporter and consultant. I asked Joe afterwards: “What’s the one message the campaign and the organization are most committed to getting across to men?”

“It has two parts,” Joe said. “This is your issue. And you can do something about it. The best news is that some of these programs are starting in middle school. I meet college guys who have been doing this work for as long as I have―seven or eight years. The MOST (Men of Strength) Club is in its fourth year at Georgetown and a little newer at American and George Washington, but it’s been at the DC high school School Without Walls for 10 years. These guys are full of energy and ideas. They always inspire me.”

The focus of the new campaign, which is being rolled out nationwide with posters, tabling, workshops, and trainings, is bystander intervention: finding the courage “to challenge the dominant narrative,” as one of the college men explained. It asks the question “What kind of man do you want to be?” Its goal, and the theme of the group discussions among men and boys from 11 to 22, is a redefinition of masculinity as strength without violence.

I asked Joe, “What drew you to this work?”

“When I was around 24, my girlfriend told me about being harassed by catcalls when she was out running. Right around the same time, another woman I know described being assaulted when she was in high school. I started asking other women and found out how much was going on. I just hadn’t been aware of it before! I got involved, and it grew into a job.”

“I went to an all-boys high school,” George Washington University student Matthew Scott told me. “Whenever groups of guys are together like that, you hear lots of sexist jokes and comments. It didn’t feel right to me. I have sisters, and I knew the women they were talking about were other guys’ sisters. But I kept quiet because I didn’t know if anybody else felt the same way. Now I know there are lots of us and I’ve learned how to confront it.”

“Was the first time hard?” I asked him.

“No, it felt good! And it keeps getting easier. It’s OK to stand up for the women in your life!”

“Are you from an activist family?” I asked. “Have you always been involved in social issues?”

“Some, I guess. In high school I worked with Habitat for Humanity and Rebuilding Together, poverty programs. Also Invisible Children, about child soldiers, and Operation Smile, for cleft palate children. But this one is more real because I see it every day. Everybody faces challenges where women, and for that matter, men, are being degraded in front of them. It’s a straight issue, a gay issue, a men’s issue, and a women’s issue.”

“What do you do besides meet and talk, Matt?”

“We’re strategizing now. We talk to guys in fraternities and on sports teams. We’re making a video. We also partner with the Georgetown Alliance for Safe Housing. In the fall we collected food to fill up their pantry. Groups of guys go over to play with the kids while the moms work on their resumes and role-play job interviews. They love it!”

Although MOST is fairly new to the George Washington campus, Kostas Skordalios, who founded the chapter, was already involved in Students against Sexual Assault, which has chapters at many US colleges. The two groups are working together now. MCSR has reached two million men in its 10-plus years, but it’s only one piece of a growing network and a growing global men’s movement. Please see the resources list for links to MSCR and related organizations.
More in the February PeaceTimes:

 

 

 

 

 

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About the Author

Mary Liepold is the Editor-in-Chief at Peace X Peace. To reach Dr. Liepold, email maryl@peacexpeace.org.
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4 Comments to “Men Can Stop Rape: “This Is Your Issue””
  1. Hello,
    Congratulation brothers MOST, you are so special to stand on the side of women. Who respects a women and a girl, respect his mother, sister and daughter because all women deserve respect and they hold a great blessing to each society! I stand with you to look for good men to join your program here I am in Rwanda. Men with good heart and all of us women and girls we will defeat bad men! Yes, we can and God is on our side.
    Be blessed a lot.

  2. Great work there
    I am Co-Founder of A Common Future organization that works with men and boys to end violence against women,girls and children in Cameroon by highlighting men and adolsecent boys sexual and reproductive health rights as an efficient means of enhancing women and girls sexual and reproductive health rights in hard to reach and undereserved segments of our communities. This year’s International Day of the Woman weplan to celebrate it by having a Men In Women Shoes Walkaton in Bamenda, North West Region as part of the international Walk A Mile in Her Shoes programm.We will share theimages with you after March 08, 20012
    Thanks
    colbert, co-founder, A Common Future
    Cameroon

  3. Doc Savage says:

    I applaud the good works this group is doing; I must ask them what are they doing to prevent women from raping men and young boys besides pretending it does not happen? What are they planning to do to fight the false accusations of rape that destroy lives? What are they doing to protect male victims of rape and IPV Intimate partner violence? The reason I ask these questions is there is no one speaking for the male victims. The media and the government have conducted a very successful male bashing campaign that portrays men as batters, rapist, and abusers please stop helping them.
    Stand up men and help everybody not just the female victims. I will not support a group of men that openly support male bashing and portraying all women as victims. If you are going to stand up for something this important help your own gender. We already have enough laws to protect women and NONE TO PROTECT MEN AND BOYS.

  4. Daniel S. Moskwitz says:

    My point of view on This Subject might be a “Tough Pill” for people to Swallow. I feel that MEN oftentimes DO want to ACCEPT their Feminine Aspect, the Cool “Yin” as opposed to the “Hot-Headed” Yang as is described by Taoism and Oriental Medicine. HOWEVER, I don’t always feel that WOMEN are entirely SUPPORTIVE of Men in this Effort. Oftentimes, women encourage men to be Competitive, or, on a deep level, have Trouble accepting their own “Yin” or Feminine Aspect themselves. “Feminism” oftentimes results with Women beoming more Masculine, but men not necessarily being ENCOURAGED to express or accept their Feminine Side. Therefore, while Women are out there “Chasing the Dollar”, men are Building up a LOT OF RESENTMENTS. So, I tell people that Preaching FEMINISM without Advocating any FEMININE PRINCIPLES is like telling Children that they shouldn’t eat Junk Food without giving them anything Healthy to Eat. Of course, many Men who have accepted their Feminine Aspect become concerned that the United States of America has become OVERLY MILITARIZED and that our Culture of Violence has become TOO PREDOMINANT. However, women don’t always support these “Real Gentlemen” in this Struggle because they want to Avoid Controversy and remain “Politically Correct”. Therefore, in this Context, Poltical Correctness becomes a form of Authoritarian Control, no different from any of these Misogynistic forms of “Relgious Fundamentalism”.

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