Posted by: joshjasper | December 20, 2008

Enough already

So ends a week in which Riverview Center aired a new awareness video, KWWL and the Telegraph Herald aired and printed multiple stories about sexual abuse in our community and spoke at length about our agency and our services, countless people came forward requesting services due to the awareness, new volunteer interest was sparked, and donations were given.  It was a good week to say the least.

With anything though, there is a flip side.  A number of individuals commented online to the Telegraph Herald articles, noting that the focus was on men as the perpetrators and women as the victims.  Again when the newscast was aired, calls were made by people to the station inquiring about why Riverview Center focuses on men as the perpetrators and does not talk about the women that sexually assault men.

Before anyone else writes or calls in again accusing me or anyone affiliated with the Riverview Center of man bashing, let’s find do a brief statistical review.  99.5% of all sexual violence perpetrated is done by men.  In other words, .5% of all sexual violence committed is done by women.  With that said, does it not make sense to focus your prevention efforts on the SIGNIFICANT majority?  Yes, women do sexually assault men, it happens regularly and is just as inexcusable as a man assaulting a woman.

But again, let’s look at the fact that when a man is sexually assaulted, 95% of the time it is done by another man.  Sharing these statistics is not man bashing or is not an attempt to minimize the experience of men that are assaulted by women, but rather it provides us all with a pattern of behavior that must be addressed.  Why are so many men so abusive?  Keep in mind more men are victims of violence than that of women in our country.  More men are physically, emotionally, and sexually abusing other men than any other demographic.  This is also true for assault and murder.  So again, why are so many men acting in such violent ways?

I understand it is difficult for the dominant group to be challenged in any environment when often times the dominant group is never challenged.  As a  man, I can empathize with other men that may feel threatened by having men and women question their behavior and ask all men to take responsibility for not only their actions but the actions of other men.  Because it is only when boys and men teach and role model for their peers non violent behavior will violence prevention occur.

Isn’t enough, enough though?  Does it really require that man or young boy to have someone close to them be raped before they view sexual violence a major public health issue?  Does it really need to go that far before we as men say “ENOUGH”!?

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Responses

  1. And so exists the crux of the difficulty of social marketing vis a vis sexual assault.

    When thinking about this, my thoughts turn to Foucault– how power is essentially invisible when it travels “down” through power classes. Sexual assault. Hate crimes. These things aren’t genuine violence, because they are generally accepted as a fact of life. Sure, they might be social blights, something we’re a bit ashamed of, but it doesn’t get the same kind of attention as when violence travels the other direction.

    Can you imagine the headlines if a gang of young gay youth started to target straight-looking youth for violence?

    Think of headlines when a woman shoots her husband, or a man is raped. Absolute horror and shock! A woman scorned! Now, to be clear: these would all be abhorrent acts. The interesting part is the response.

    How does one speak truth to power effectively? We see the results in a few different campaigns with varied success. Some attempt to win men over by using positive messaging, but it can water the message down to pointless pablum, unsuitable for anything but fulfilling a grant requirement.

    I don’t know the answer, other then continue talking about it. Focus on the truth, and keep pushing it. In the end, we do need to “win” men over, we just have to figure out how to do so without compromising the very reason we’re trying to win them over. We don’t need friends or supporters, we need people actively changing their habits and the habits of their peer networks.

    I applaud your efforts, and enjoyed the video, by the way.

  2. g,

    Thank you for the thoughtful response. I really enjoyed reading your comment. Remember last year when a man entered an Amish school in Pennsylvania and killed those children? What you may not remember because it did not make the headlines, was this man purposefully separated the boys from the girls and killed only the girls. Imagine if that same man separated the children by race or religion and then killed one group. There would be national outrage. But when it involved violence against girls, a violence that we are so normalized to, we were not shocked.

    Stay tuned for change in 2009. A change that will involve the truth and the changing of habits that support and contribute to the violence that we experience everyday.

    Josh


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