Men Can Stop Rape's college chapter at Georgetown University
From November 13-15 I attended the National Conference on Sexual Assault in Our Schools in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. It was a weekend full of presentations, disgruntled tourists, $10 churros, networking/hanging with movement folks, and spotty wi-fi. It’s been a weird and inspiring journey for me from the sexism town hall my freshman year to presenting about the successes and challenges of our GU Men Creating Change (GUMCC) group last weekend. There’s been a lot of hard work, even more samosas, and plenty of K Street bike rides involved in getting me to spread the gospel of GU Men across the country.
The highlight of the conference for me was the opportunity to meet a lot of cool folks who are deeply involved in the anti-violence movement. It is not often that I get to hang out with non-college students let alone people who have been doing awesome work in a variety of locations and situations. I want to thank those people for making me as a young person feel welcome and important at the conference and in this work. I learned a lot from them as professionals in this field and I hope they learned from me as a student doing this work with other students.
Most of the presentations I saw offered me valuable insight and information about the broader anti-violence movement and specific groups that are doing effective work. The University of Rhode Island Peer Advocates presented on what their group does and I appreciated seeing how a large-scale and institutionalized peer education group works.
It reinforced for me that one of the major strengths of the Campus Strength program is that it allows for a more long-term change in campus culture through its emphasis on community building and collaboration as well as presentation, and in its flexibility in facing campus-specific challenges. Later, I got a sneak peek of Men Can Stop Rape’s new and improved bystander intervention presentation and found it to be an even more effective and challenging approach.
The last presentation I saw was by Dr. John Foubert on barriers to rape prevention (he focused on social norms marketing, post-modernism, and pornography as barriers). I was particularly interested in attending this workshop because GUMCC works from a postmodernist theoretical perspective. I appreciated Dr. Foubert challenging what he saw as barriers to successful rape prevention, but I have to say I disagreed with his assessments, especially about postmodernism. His main argument against postmodernism is that it does not believe in one essential truth and therefore ranks a perpetrator’s “truth” alongside a survivor’s “truth.” Postmodernism, though, asserts that “objective truth” is a white, cis-gendered, heterosexual, middle-class, male truth which is neither objective nor often true. We examine the truths that society produces which allows and even encourages rape. It is because of this postmodern perspective, firmly placed within third-wave feminist thought, that I believe we can effectively address what causes and allows men to rape and prevent rape. It was great to see another viewpoint expressed, though, and to have an opportunity to share my own and our group’s perspectives.
All in all, I had a very good and energizing weekend. I learned a lot from the other people at the conference and I felt reassured that I am doing important work. It is good to know that I have allies and friends from across the country that I can count on for support, guidance and accountability.
Jared Watkins, a double major in English and Women’s and Gender Studies, is from Farmington, New Mexico. Jared is also interning for Men Can Stop Rape's Training & Technical Assistance department.
Note: GU Men Creating Change is part of MCSR’s Campus Strength Program. For more details about Campus Strength, please contact Joseph Vess at firstname.lastname@example.org.