This is less a reaction to the Lara Logan case and more a response to a story that ran in my local paper. The university here has had a couple of high-profile sexual assaults reported that didn’t result in charges being filed. Along with the story, the paper ran a sidebar on how the university is conducting a sexual assault awareness week. Included in the scheduled events is a session on self-defense.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I took an all-day self-defense course when I was in college. But since then, I’ve become aware of just how backward society’s attitudes toward sexual assault are. We put all of the pressure on women to avoid rape, but no pressure on men NOT TO BE RAPISTS. How does that make sense? We can tell women all we want not to walk alone at night, to be watchful of their drinks at bars, but according to RAINN, 73 percent of rape victims know their assailants. The myth of a strange man leaping out of the bushes to rape you hardly ever happens. So how do we teach women to identify rapists among the men they encounter on a daily basis? They don’t wear handy signs saying “watch out for me because I might rape you.”
Instead, we need to support and fund efforts like Men Can Stop Rape, a group dedicated to ending violence against women. It offers alternative views on masculinity and teaches boys and men to be allies of girls and women. If boys hear and see role models in their communities denouncing violence against women, it would go a long way toward changing attitudes and building alliances.
So the next time you see your local college or police department offering a self-defense class, call them up and ask if they’d also do a talk about how men can end rape. I bet they’d be happy to do so once they know the interest exists.