Tag Archives: Yes Means Yes

When we think of sexual assault, men are often seen as the problem. It’s true that the overwhelming majority of sexual assault (and violent crime in general, for that matter) is committed by men, but it is also important to remember that most men do not commit violence.

Many men, in fact, go out of their way to prevent violence (and sexism).  You go, men! Let’s take a moment to recognize how awesome you are:

In Milwaukee recently, a have come together to respond to a string of attacks against women in their community.

In Wisconsin in general, we have a lot of great men doing anti-violence work. trains law enforcement to approach sexual assault cases with sensitivity. works for the and is a long-time member of . Some fraternity brothers at UW-Madison take a class through the School of Social Work () to change the rape culture for which fraternities (and college campuses in general, for that matter) have become so .

In the blogosphere, shout outs to Thomas at and at .

Then there’s the men I every day. They are AWESOME! Shout outs to Clint, , Scott, Marcus, Ted, Will, Robert, Doug, Jason, Andy and Marco who volunteer their time to serve as practice attackers for my women’s self defense classes. Shout out to Troy who, when a kickboxing student bragged to him that he was “only there to pick up girls”, stood up for the women at our studio and shamed the guy so he never came back! (Funny side note- he was worried I’d be mad about that.) The men I work with are so respectful, one of my kickboxers was telling me how she feels more comfortable as a woman at our studio than at places she’d worked out at previously with “macho” instructors. I reminded her that we have male instructors too and she said, “Yeah but your male instructors are great!”

I asked some of these men and others to share their thoughts about how men can work against violence. Here’s a few of the responses I got:

“What men need to do is really pretty simple: reject this culture. I believe it’s honestly not true that men are biologically sexually aggressive. The rejection of this culture in its most exaggerated form is obvious in the constant ridicule placed on the “bro” stereotype by everyone else, but there is still that undercurrent that seems to sometimes seep into otherwise decent men.”

“I’m dumbfounded that I still meet men who believe that women serve two purposes: Cleaning the house, and making babies. Those kind of men will never listen to women and change their ways. They feel they are right because so many of their friends think the way they do. Men need to voice their opinions more, so that those men still stuck in the dark ages will realize they are in the minority and at least consider changing their views. It won’t change all of their minds, they’re too stubborn. But with time and pressure from the rest of society, their numbers will dwindle.”

“Aside from the obvious one – “don’t commit sexual violence” – men need to be aware of the social & cultural forces that suggest that sexual violence doesn’t happen, isn’t a problem, is a joke, etc. Men should talk about these things openly, with one another and with women. They should understand what exactly constitutes sexual violence – that it isn’t always a strange guy jumping a woman in an alley somewhere. They should see adult men treating their female partners with respect.”

Men absolutely must be a part of the movement to end sexual violence. I send so much love and appreciation to the men who are already there. I challenge women who are doing this work to reach out to  men as allies, friends and brothers and welcome them.

P.S. Shout out to West High’s (directed by my dear friend, teacher and mentor ). High school kids perform about racism, sexism and other issues like these to elementary through high school audiences. Check out this video of Benny and Terri discussing consent in front of a very awkward high school audience. It’s pretty darn cute.

Body Language And Consent

23 Mar

Thomas from wrote an excellent explaining new research that demonstrates that a non-verbal no is as clear as a verbal no.

This is particularly important when we consider the trauma response to sexual assault. An assault triggers the fight, flight or freeze response. I know I talk a lot about fighting, as a martial arts instructor, but the reality is that in that moment of intense stress, many victims freeze. Just because someone does not fight back does not mean that they gave consent. It also does not mean they deserved to be assaulted or were responsible for the attack in any way. Yet, in the few rape cases that go to trial, the most common defense is to assert that the encounter was consensual. This defense often focuses on what the victim did not do (ex. fight back, say no clearly or loudly or believably enough, etc.). Unfortunately, what they did do (in terms of non-verbal communication) would be hard to recreate in court. This new research is just one more piece of evidence supporting the fact that victims should be believed and that creepers know exactly what they are doing.

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