Thursday, June 01, 2006

In response to Howard Kurtz's 5/29/06 "Sex, Booze & Surveys: Journos Gone Wild" in The Washington Post, Men Can Stop Rape submitted the following Letter to the Editor. No word yet if it actually got published.

To the Editor:

Re: “Sex, Booze, and Surveys: Journos Gone Wild” (Style, May 29): As a national leader in the movement to engage young men in ending violence against women, Men Can Stop Rape shares Howard Kurtz’s disappointment in the media’s careless reporting of results from an invalid and questionable AMA poll of binge drinking and sex among college women during spring break.

But our frustration with the media's reporting of “Girls Behaving Badly” during spring break has to do with their rush to publish fallible statistics as well as their relentless focus on women. Newspapers and television news shows across the country rushed to highlight results from the AMA poll surveying women’s potentially dangerous behavior during spring break. While the media might think they are helping to make the world safer, they are in fact victim blaming. The underlying assumption is that if women act badly, they can expect to be treated badly.

The media can end this pattern of victim blaming by recognizing that men play a role in creating the dangerous environment that often surrounds spring break. But before we fall into the assumption that the media should simply provide the same kind of binge journalism for college males, let’s consider attending to another kind of behavior: positive prevention. While the majority of young men do not perpetrate sexual violence, all of them can decide to behave in ways that play a positive role in preventing rape, whether it’s educating themselves and other men about the consequences of sexual assault, choosing to be a role model through their own behavior, or refusing to condone other men’s rape supporting attitudes and behaviors.

We at Men Can Stop Rape know that the overwhelming majority of young men respond well if they’re provided with opportunities to be allies with women rather than simply labeled as part of the problem. Now if we can also get the media to recognize their opportunity to play a role in making positive prevention more visible, we all might have a safer and healthier world.

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