Last week, a blog post I wrote for MasculinityU.com was tweeted out into the universe. It addressed what college campuses can do to reduce sexual assaults and change behaviors. I received some thoughtful comments in return, all of them good. One woman, in particular, who works on a college campus, encouraged me to address women’s empowerment and perhaps not try to tackle the task of changing men. I am posting my response back to her because I’d love to know your thoughts. It’s actually the first time I’ve truly articulated my hesitation to speak beyond my narrow slice of the sexual assault issue. In composing my reply to her, I discovered why I think men aren’t a lost cause on this topic (not that she said they are), and potentially, an untapped resource in battling the crime.
Thanks so much for this thoughtful note. I started the blog and did what I did to show women they can do it too. In this regard, I feel knowledge is power. If they can see through all the documents I post that overseas prosecution is not impossible, they might not leave a rapist for the next gal to deal with. I do take a clear position on this that we are responsible to each other as women and because I got away, doesn’t mean my responsibility ends there. I think any woman who is sexually assaulted and goes on with her life is a hero to other women.
I actually think the messaging on alcohol is piss poor when it comes to college campuses and the bars that surround campuses. That should be a no brainer for campuses to tackle. It cannot be said enough – if you are a woman and get buzzed or drunk, your rapist will walk free; it’s statistically guaranteed.
I don’t take as dismal a view on men, but I found that in looking at how women are socialized and all the factors involved (religion, culture, family), it’s very difficult for me to get my arms around the topic in a way that I feel I have a right to assert my views or take an authority position. I was raised by a confident, educated mother and supportive Title IX Dad. So many women aren’t and I don’t know how to suggest to others to tackle those layers, unravel them and build back up a much better model. What I do know is we don’t talk to men about it, hardly at all, and many of them don’t feel they have an invitation to the conversation or a right to explore their understanding of the issue. My own father, when I was younger, used to tell me not to wear short skirts (not that I did wear short skirts) because he didn’t want me to get raped. He has now come to understand only through my experience how that has nothing to do with rape. That has just struck me as something to consider: Men don’t even understand rape!!
I am really not sure of my place in the larger conversation. But I am an expert in my situation and Italian law on sexual assault, and..on being an assertive woman. So, I have tried to keep my comments in that realm. If you see a place I should explore, please let me know as you are in the university environment.
So, there you have it. Would love to hear from you firstname.lastname@example.org