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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Men Can Stop Rape

By Fabulously Feminist

For years I have been on my soap box telling anyone that would listen that rape is not just women’s problem. Therefore, one can imagine my relief upon reading Jessica Valenti’s assertion in Full Frontal Feminism that as “long as men are being brought up to think violence and sexual assault are okay, this [rape] isn’t just women’s problem” (Valenti 63). This is why it’s imperative that there are groups such as Men Can Stop Rape. In what follows, I would like to present what the organization of Men Can Stop Rape is all about. However, before I begin I will give a brief overview of rape statistics that I feel demonstrates why groups like this are so necessary.

“Researchers have found that rape is the crime most women fear” (Renzetti and Curran 280) and for good reason. A 2004 National Crime Victimization Survey showed that in the United States every 2½ minutes there is a sexual assault and 1 in 6 women has been a victim of a rape or of an attempted rape. However, when looking at this statistic we have to keep in mind that rape is the most underreported violent crime and these figures are probably too low (Valenti 64). Sadly, when rape is reported some police departments “dump” the claim into another case category where little investigation actually occurs. Little investigation negates the chance of an arrest or a conviction (Renzetti and Curran 280).

Headquartered in the District of Columbia, the organization of Men Can Stop Rape can be broadly defined as “an organization that provides training for younger men and boys on violence and gender equality” (Valenti 80). More specifically, the mission of Men Can Stop Rape revolves around three key components. The first focus of their mission is to do outreach and mobilize young males as vital players in preventing men's violence against women. Secondly, Men Can Stop Rape strives to encourage male youth to challenge the negative and harmful aspects found in traditional masculinity. Instead of traditional masculinity, Men Can Stop Rape wants their members to embrace “alternative visions of male strength” (Men Can Stop Rape). The third key component that Men Can Stop Rape employs is encouraging solidarity and alliance between young men and women to promote gender equality and work to create healthy platonic and romantic relationships (Men Can Stop Rape).

Structurally, Men Can Stop Rape employs a comprehensive two prong approach to outreach and education through 1) youth development programming and leadership training, and 2) public education messaging.

The first prong is the organization’s youth development program and leadership training which was established in 2000. This year-long program’s focus is on high school male youth and strives to create “a structured and supportive space to learn about healthy masculinity and redefine male strength” (Men Can Stop Rape). Additionally, this program also seeks to break down the myths surrounding whose “problem” rape is. The ultimate goal of this program is community leadership. Men Can Stop Rape want participants to take what they have learned in the program and apply it within their communities by functioning as leaders for other young men (Men Can Stop Rape).

Strength Mediaworks is the title of Men Can Stop Rape second approach which focuses on public education. Men Can Stop Rape has created an ad campaign that reaches “hundreds of thousands of men with their compelling visuals and positive messages” (Men Can Stop Rape). These positive messages can be found geographically from California to South Africa through mediums such as billboards, posters in bus shelters, public health clinics, and in movie theaters. Men Can Stop Rape also utilizes technology to educate the male (and female) public. Not only do they post videos on YouTube, they also maintain a blog on www.blogspot.com; two hugely popular sites for today’s youth—and the not so youthful as well (Men Can Stop Rape).

I would like the close with a brief sampling of Men Can Stop Rape’s clients. The sheer number of organizations and groups who use Man Can Stop Rape demonstrates how prolific the ideas that they promote are. If more activists groups like Men Can Stop Rape were created and employed similar techniques, a dynamic transformation of violence against woman could result. Some of the organization’s diverse clientele are: Center for Disease Control, Sexual Violence Prevention; Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault; D.C. Rape Crisis Center; Family Violence Prevention Fund's; “Coaching Boys into Men” initiative; Bolling Air Force Base; YWCA at High Point, NC; Montana State Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence; University of Pennsylvania; Yale University….the list goes on and on…..

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