Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Where's the Dad?

By Emma Boillotat

For the past couple of Olympics, P&G has been a “proud sponsor” of the games, putting out commercials to show their support. Their most recent ad campaign is “Raising an Olympian,” and one of their commercials that came out recently is posted above. Now, I’m all for this feeling of family supporting you but that’s not the message. It states at the end of the video: “For teaching us that falling only makes us better” and then says, “Thank you, Mom” with a “#BecauseOfMom.” While watching this video, I did get a little teary-eyed for the love and appreciation these kids had for their mom, but what about the dads?

Most of the P&G products connected to the campaign are geared towards women. The end of the ad shows their different brands such as Tide, Pampers, Gillette, Duracell, and Bounty. Three of these five – Tide, Pampers, and Bounty – are typically identified with women and have commercials with only women in them. A fourth, Gillette, consists of products specifically for men and women – Gillette Venus, for example. It’s a clever advertisement ploy, and I’m sure many women viewing this commercial feel grateful because they are a mom or have a mom who they look up to, but we as a country do not need a public ad campaign giving credit only to mothers for raising kids when a child can and should consider men and women to be their support system.

A person who supports a child can be a mother, father, sibling, aunt, uncle, grandmother, grandfather, cousin, teacher or mentor of any sort who has provided the love and support that has helped a child succeed. I personally give thanks to my mom, dad, stepmom, sister, brother and extended family for believing in me and giving me opportunities to be who I am today. The love and acceptance I have received from each of these people in my life has helped me to succeed.

Emma Boillotat is an intern for the month of January 2014 at Men Can Stop Rape. She is originally from Hanover, New Hampshire and goes to Goucher College in Towson, Maryland. She will be graduating May 2014 with a major in Sociology/Anthropology and minor in Spanish. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

By Patrick McGann
Director of Strategy and Planning
Men Can Stop Rape

By now, many of you may know that the Healthy Masculinity Action Project (HMAP) has used storytelling to start conversations at the Healthy Masculinity Summit, Training Institutes, Town Halls, and Campus Conversations. This past year I’ve spent a lot of time formally and informally talking about healthy masculinity and listening to people talk about it. Someone occasionally voices the idea that healthy masculinity keeps us bound to gender instead of liberated from it and that our shared humanity can serve as a freeing agent. I’d like to share my thoughts on this subject, and in the spirit of HMAP, I’ll start with a brief personal story.

Feminism and a Genderless World
In 1983 as a Texas Tech University graduate student, I became involved with Abby, another graduate student. A year later we married, and shortly thereafter, she declared herself a feminist. Okay, maybe it wasn’t an actual declaration. She didn’t stand in our living room and announce while I was watching TV, “I am now a feminist.” It became clear by the books she read, the classes she took, the topics she brought up – and the arguments we had.

In the living room of our two-story, $150 a month, rental house in Lubbock, I told her – pretty zealously – that feminism was trapped in a tunnel vision, that it only focused on half the population and the well-being of people was lost. We’re all humans. This didn’t set well with her.

I have since come to have some understanding of why my “humanity” argument didn’t fly. A few of those reasons, I believe, apply to the idea of healthy masculinity and a genderless world.

Deconstructing Masculinity
Early in my graduate career I was heavy into reading about the ‘sixties and counterculture. One book whose title I can no longer remember focused on the creation of a commune with the intent of establishing a new society free of all harmful mainstream ideologies. After a short while, the banished ideologies started popping up here and there. It turned out that it was no easy walk to freedom. The commune residents positioned these unwelcome ideologies as outside the new environment and external to themselves. In actuality, they had internalized them as well. This mis-positioning resulted in people unintentionally replicating the very things they were trying to escape.

Based on this example, we can’t wipe away the old simply by embracing the new. Just because a man has gotten on the healthy masculinity bandwagon doesn’t mean he’s free of unhealthy masculinity. If we men are responsible about all of this, we’ll commit to deconstructing unhealthy masculinity – both internally and externally – for the rest of our lives. And we’ll teach deconstructing it to the boys in our lives.

Reconstructing Masculinity
But we need to do some reconstructing too. Otherwise, we’re left with a deconstruction void. Identity is a basic part of human life. We all have our identities shaped for us and participate in shaping them ourselves. We are more willing to deconstruct identities if more appealing identities are waiting in the wings.

In prevention work, we talk a lot about behavioral and attitudinal change in young men and boys, but if the attitudes and behaviors don’t fit with identities that young men will enthusiastically assume, we’re less effective. Men Can Stop Rape’s Men of Strength Club not only fosters young men and boys’ attitudes and behaviors connected to preventing gender-based based violence and other forms of violence. It also presents young men with a positive way to think of themselves in relation to those attitudes and behaviors. The Club reshapes social norms among peers by reconfiguring group and personal identities so that members are connected to something important that is bigger than themselves.

Moving from masculine identities to gender-free identities is a large leap, probably an impossible leap for the overwhelming majority of men and boys. I myself find it hard to grasp. And where do transgender people fit into this schema? I could more easily recognize the possibility of a gender continuum – something a number of theorists advocate. And running across this continuum would be the principle that no gender shall cause harm.

Strategy and Masculinity
So how do we create that gender continuum for men and boys? And I’m not referring to the guys in the violence prevention choir. I mean all of us. We need a strategy – a plan, a path, a process – that helps men and boys begin to break down the gender binary. We’re not Nike. We can’t tell them: Just Do It! During trainings, Men Can Stop Rape sometimes represents this binary through the two words most frequently used in ads for boys’ and girls’ toys: BATTLE and LOVE. How do we create conditions for men to move closer to love?

In another exercise we do during trainings called “Describing Healthy Masculinity,” we ask people to come up with personal examples representing healthy masculinity, and the end results are words that can be linked to love: a man who’s caring, respectful, non-violent, emotionally supportive, a good listener, questioning, empathic, and more. Someone often points out that these are words used to describe women. Healthy masculinity may not be our final resting point. Maybe it's a strategic, practical first step for men and boys to move in between the two gender poles. Maybe it’s a way for them to start considering “and/both” instead of “either/or.” Maybe it’s one way to bring all the genders closer together.

Let’s Talk
Of course, whether this is the case isn’t up to me. It’s really up to all of us. Whether healthy masculinity is a viable and valuable strategy is something everyone will have to answer and act on. So let’s keep talking about it.

Learn about the Healthy Masculinity Action Project
Patrick McGann, Ph.D. has been involved with Men Can Stop Rape (MCSR) since the organization’s inception in 1997. Patrick has co-authored a sexual assault prevention strategy for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and has played key roles in conceiving, planning, and implementing the Healthy Masculinity Action Project. He regularly gives presentations across the country on engaging men in the prevention of gender-based violence. Share

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Opaque Intent: Wrestling and a Relationship Victory in the Ring?

By Hope Mookim

To say that World Wrestling Entertainment, WWE for short, does not exactly portray the healthiest forms of masculinity and femininity might be an understatement. To be fair, my encounters with the show have more to do with the sheer inescapability of it, and those encounters have not done much to change my mind. It’s either playing or recording on every TV in my house, and I dare not ask to be excused to eat in another room or make a peep until commercials are on. I am resigned to sit silently, staring at a wall or my dinner plate—desperately looking for anything to look at but the TV. But sometimes I can’t help but watch – with jaw dropped – some of the antics. Recently one such segment aired in which a Dr. Phil-esque session was attempted in the ring. The “mediation” was supposed to happen between a wrestler, Daniel Bryan, and his new ex, AJ Lee, facilitated by Roddy Piper.

Basically, in an earlier episode Daniel Bryan publicly broke up with AJ – in a more intimidating than tactful way. In this episode, Roddy Piper invites both parties to the ring for a discussion. When AJ enters the ring, she and Roddy Piper engage in conversation about Daniel Bryan, with AJ standing up for Daniel Bryan, who “really is a good person”. After a few minutes, Bryan has heard enough and orders AJ to leave the ring as a testament to her love for him. To Roddy Piper’s, and my dismay, she obeys and Bryan is left gloating this “victory” in the ring.
Our entire dinner table became very quiet and tense. My mother and I stared at each other awestruck.  My mother and I always like to have deep conversations about things in regular life, take the situation apart, play devil’s advocate, and examine it from all sides. This sparked one of those conversations. I’m known in my family as hotheaded and I was furious. I saw this segment as having promoted, if not instilled, a tolerance and acceptance of domestic and relationship violence. My little brother has been watching this show since he was a young child (I had NOTHING to do with that…), and I have seen how an impressionable age and this show can result in confusion about masculinity and the acceptance of violence in daily life. I wondered how many young children, and even impressionable older people, were watching this and as a result would incorporate that kind of behavior into their interpersonal or relationship schemas; this was dangerous stuff.
I was glad my mother agreed, but when we took the situation a little further we came to a new conclusion. What if this segment was the exact opposite of what we thought? Perhaps the writers were trying to shed light on relationship violence. The clip from the breakup could have been purposefully written in such an upsetting way that it generates sympathy for AJ, and thus grabs the emotion of all viewers, impressionable and otherwise. It then makes sense why WWE would create AJ as a timid young character who does not fit the general mold of the bolder WWE woman. For a bolder character, viewers may feel that she can protect herself and would not feel for her so readily (not to say bold women, or men for that matter, should be less felt for or sympathized with), but they may feel less tenderness and protectiveness towards the bolder character than the girlish and stereotypically feminine character AJ plays. In the Roddy Piper mediation, to see that AJ’s boldest moments are those in which she is standing up for Daniel Bryan, and to then have Bryan again demean her and gloat could be purposefully done to generate more hate for Daniel Bryan and more sympathy for AJ, and victims of domestic abuse everywhere.
Does this mean that WWE was trying to shed light on the horror of relationship violence, especially that of emotional abuse? Physical abuse has been thrust into collective consciousness through media coverage of cases such as that of Chris Brown and Rihanna, but emotional abuse has until now been a little less exposed though it is also extremely dangerous. But how clear was this message, if that was indeed the intent, and would the majority of viewers understand? Maybe it worked; I was seething with rage towards Daniel Bryan, more so than I was towards WWE for showing it (or promoting it as I initially believed). Maybe WWE’s intentions were good…or maybe my mother and I are just clinging to hope.
Take a look at the clip above and tell me what you think. Do you think this had a pure intent, or was a bad judgment call…or maybe both?

Hi everyone, my name is Hope and I am an intern here at Men Can Stop Rape! I am from Beltsville, Maryland and am currently a graduating senior at the wonderful University of Maryland, College Park. I am majoring in Criminology and Criminal Justice and plan on going to law school.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

SAAM 2.0: How to Use Social Media to Raise Sexual Assault Awareness

Last year when the Obama administration announced a plan to address the number of sexual assault cases at colleges nationwide, it was an important reminder to many Americans that sex crimes are a real threat both on and off campus.

Considering that every
two minutes someone is sexually assaulted in the U.S., and that rape is still the least reported crime in America, it’s essential that we remain vigilant about preventing and educating about sexual violence. In a nod to April’s designation as Sexual Assault Awareness Month or SAAM, some well-respected organizations and institutions are using the power of social media to spread the word about this vitally important issue.

But they shouldn’t be the only ones. Isn’t it time we all joined forces with the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) in their bid to raise awareness about sex violence? Keep reading for a few tips on how a company, organization, educational institution or any other entity can utilize social media to spread the word about Sexual Assault Awareness Month today and always.

Spread the Word

Kudos should go to the U.S. Navy for
addressing sexual assault and aggression head on. This branch of the military recently began a campaign in honor of SAAM that encourages discussions on healthy sexuality and provides tools for sailors regarding education, prevention and open communication. And guess what? They also turned to the web to publicize their efforts and motivate the general public to join in on the conversation with a Twitter campaign. 

Put Facebook to Work
Remember when Facebook was simply a place to catch up with friends or share cool photos? Well, times have certainly changed as organizations, non-profits and institutions of every size have capitalized on the massive reach of this social media giant. Now it’s your turn to get your message out there regarding SAAM 2012.

Here are a few ways to do it:

1. Keep it timely. Who wants to read about yesterday’s news? Link out to blog posts, newspaper articles and upcoming events that are up-to-the-minute and SAAM related.
2. Keep it relevant. Know your audience and only feed them content they’ll care about.
3. Keep it engaging. Don’t simply talk at people, hold a conversation. Ask a question, publish a poll and encourage likes, shares and comments.

Take it Local
Given that agencies and bodies all over the U.S. will be honoring SAAM in their own way, it’s important to make your message stick where it matters most: home. Once again social marketing offers an opportunity to reach out to your community to engage them in meaningful dialogue. What about writing an educational blog post with a link to the NSVRC’s video on creating healthy sex attitudes?. Then take that powerful statement to the next level by inviting members of your own community to enter a video contest. Let them tell their own story of how they’ve crafted healthy sex attitudes and allow other readers to pick the best entry. By inviting neighbors, friends, loved ones and other locals to share their story online and off, you’ll increase awareness and encourage everyone to join the conversation simultaneously.

Now it’s your turn to begin your own SAAM 2012 social media campaign!

This article was written by Cary Betagole of SEER Interactive. Cary has been working on promoting SAAM in his own time as well as some other sexual assault awareness resources – one being a sexual harassment training quiz and a guide for common forms of workplace sexual harassment.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Snack Food Intervention

The above
video of a subway fight was making the rounds of the internet last week. The video begins in the middle of the fight as a woman pushes a man, the man kicks her, and she kicks him back. While camera phone captured fight videos are not uncommon on many corners of the web, this video gained popularity not for the brutality of the fight, but for the interesting way it was broken up. A stoic man eating chips steps into the middle of the scrum, and his facial expression never changes as the shouting dies down and the fight ends. He just keeps eating his chips.

 It’s hard to tell exactly what was going on before the chip-ervention, but it seems to be between a man and a woman who accuses the man of following her. No matter how the fight started, it’s apparent that the fight needed to stop to prevent harm to any of the people in the subway car. Chip Man (as he will be referred to in the rest of this post) took our Where Do You Stand? campaign literally and intervened in the situation simply by standing in the middle of the fight. Chip Man’s intervention uses a few of the bystander intervention strategies we teach in our workshops and trainings: he separated the people involved, he provided a distraction, and he made it known that fighting was unacceptable simply by making himself apparent in the fight.

Chip Man’s intervention is an example of a counterstory of masculinity, a story which is in opposition to the dominant story of masculinity. When talking about being an active bystander, most people might imagine a person taking over a situation and preventing harm through her/his sheer force of will. Chip Man shows that sometimes the most effective intervention strategies are the most passive. He didn’t make a grandiose speech about the wrongness of violence, he didn’t judge either party, he just recognized that the most important action was to stop the fight and get them both away from each other. Granted, this strategy might be too dangerous in other situations (I certainly wouldn’t advise standing in the middle and calmly eating chips as a way to break up most fights), but that’s why we refer to intervention strategies as being part of a bystander intervention toolbox. You don’t need a hammer for every job, you don’t need a screwdriver for every fix, but you have those tools available to you in case you need them.

Chip Man as an active bystander is probably not the first thing a lot of people thought of when they saw this video. It would have been easy to watch it, laugh at Chip Man’s indifferent enjoyment of his salty snack as the subway descended into chaos, and move on to the next picture of a cat with its face outlined by bread. There are counterstories all around us, though, men and women who are actively making a difference in their community and working to create cultures free from violence (whether they realize it or not). Take a lesson from Chip Man: chill out, grab a snack of your choosing, and take a stand against violence in our communities.

Jared Watkins is a Development Coordinator at Men Can Stop Rape and a facilitator for George Washington University Men of Strength Club. He has interned and worked at Men Can Stop Rape since 2008 when he founded Georgetown University Men of Strength. He can be reached at jwatkins@mencanstoprape.org.