By Patrick McGann
Director of Strategy & Planning
I finished writing Part 5 of “How I Came to Work at Men Can Stop Rape” yesterday (the part where I actually finally end up at MCSR) but then this morning read the Washington Post and learned that Rep. David Wu (D-OR) is accused of having “aggressive and unwanted” sex with a teenage daughter of a friend. My reaction, said out loud at the kitchen table: “What is wrong with these guys?” It wasn’t directed at Abby, my wife, as much as it was an expression of exasperation. So, I’m delaying posting Part 5 for addressing political scandal.
Part of me still expects, I suppose, high standards of behavior from our public representatives. Idealistically, I assume they understand their need to uphold and represent our democratic principles, and that “sexual indiscretions” (media language) are not in line with those principles. In a more practical sense, surely they have already seen enough politicians fall from grace so that they are aware of the potential consequences to their own careers? When I went to Texas Tech we told Texas A & M jokes about how many Aggies it takes to screw in a light bulb. Although I can’t quite wrap my head around it right now, I’m thinking there’s a similar joke about how many politicians it takes to stop a sexual indiscretion.
Of course I know why these male politicians keep acting in inappropriate ways. Isn’t traditional masculinity the root cause for so many things we men do? And doesn’t it need a light shined on it in the hallways of our government buildings? It has been invisible for too long in our Capitol, I say! Not only do politicians suffer the consequences when one of their own creates a “Guys Gone Stupid” video, we as citizens lose any sense that the people in charge of our country are credible, responsible, and respectable adults.
Our politicians need help! They can’t prevent these indiscretions on their own or they would have already done so. I challenge them to bring in the masculinity and gender-based violence prevention experts. I personally will guarantee the services of Men Can Stop Rape. We usually limit our From Theory to Practice trainings to 20 participants or so, which means it will take us a while to get through the Senate and the House, but it will be time well spent. Our country will be better for it.
Politicians, I beg you: ask not what masculinity can do for you, but what you can do to change masculinity.
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Patrick McGann, Ph.D. has been involved with Men Can Stop Rape (MCSR) since the organization’s inception in 1997. As Director of Strategy and Planning, Patrick co-authored a sexual assault prevention strategy for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) in 2008 and oversaw the development of the HURTS ONE. AFFECTS ALL. public education campaign for DoD in 2010. He regularly gives presentations across the country on engaging men in the prevention of gender-based violence.