What Can Men Do?

The Power to Prevent Sexual Assault

 

Men have the power to prevent sexual assault. Men, as individuals, we have the power to make a decision that is absolute. We have the power not to add to the pain. How do we do that? First, we have to re-write some of the “sexual scripts”, such as…

 

Don’t assume. If you’re unsure, ask. Make sure.

The idea that you should try something, and as long as she doesn’t stop you it’s okay is irresponsible. This puts too much responsibility on the woman. If you’re not sure, ask. Cooperation does not equal consent. Assumptions are dangerous. A woman may be consenting to some activities, but not others. Also, negotiations such as “come on” and “don’t worry, it’s okay” are manipulative. It’s better to be safe than sorry; always ask first.

 

Communicate during encounters.

When you’re with a woman, communicate openly about what physical experiences you are sharing and what each of you wants.

 

Be aware of language.

Words are powerful, especially when spoken by people who have power over others. In our society, there are a lot of words that put women down (such as “bitch”, “cunt”, “dog”, etc.). These words send out a message that women are inferior, making it easier to treat them with less respect, disregard their rights, and ignore their well-being. Also, remember that rape jokes aren’t funny, sexist attitudes aren’t acceptable, and abuse towards women is a serious issue. Don’t promote this behavior.

 

No means no.

Always ask and clarify what is and isn’t okay, especially if a woman freezes up or seems to feel awkward. Also remember that no means no. Accept that answer the first time. There is absolutely no reason for a woman to have to say no more than once.

 

Support survivors of rape.

Rape will not be taken seriously until everyone is aware of how common it is. In the U.S. alone, one million women and girls get raped each year. By learning to sensitively support survivors in their lives, men can help both women and men feel safer to speak out about being raped and let the world know how serious a problem rape is. Also, educate yourself about rape and sexual assault, and support others who wish to do the same.

 

Don’t ever have sex with anyone against their will.

NO MATTER WHAT! Though statistics show that most men never commit rape, the overwhelming majority of rapists are male. Promise yourself to be a different kind of man; value equality and do not use your strength to hurt others.