“Men must take action”: understanding sexual assault
Although it still may be fresh in our minds, Rep. Todd Akin is not the first to call into question the legitimacy of rape. Akin suggested “legitimate rape” does not cause pregnancy, and in doing so, he implied that certain degrees of rape exist.
More recently, British Member of Parliament George Galloway said having sex with a sleeping partner is merely “bad sexual etiquette,” not rape. To this point, Galloway inferred, “not everybody needs to be asked prior to each insertion.”We as a society need to discuss what got us to this point where recognizing sexual assault and advocating against it has become so difficult.
A strong first step is examining the role men play in ending sexual violence. Most men are compassionate individuals who desire healthy connections with women. And while the majority of perpetrators of sexual assault are men, most men do not rape. Yet, it is still a challenge for our society to engage men as concerned bystanders to sexual violence.
Each year, hundreds of students on campus, including men, take part in Take Back The Night, a rally against rape and sexual assault. But on a daily basis, most men do not get involved in the conversation surrounding sexual violence. It can be hard for men to stand up against sexual violence. In our culture, showing empathy or passion for these issues can often be perceived as weakness. Moreover, violence against women is often seen as an issue only affecting women. But as a society, we must work to break down these barriers, so that a truly engaging and involved conversation can take place.
Men must be presented with the opportunity to increase their awareness and to understand the role they play in ending violence against women. In developing the skills men use to address issues such as rape and sexual assault, men will become better communicators of what sexual assault is.
Men must take action to challenge masculine domination and violence. Violence against women is a men’s issue.
A great way for men to get involved on campus is by joining the conversation at the Men’s Group Fall Retreat. The retreat takes place Saturday, September 29 and is an opportunity for men to see how societal gender scripts impact a man’s social development and learn more about sexual violence.
GVSU Women’s Center