Thursday, August 04, 2011

How I Came to Work at Men Can Stop Rape, Part 5

By Patrick McGann
Director of Strategy & Planning

Just after my experience of the 1992 National Organization of Men Against Sexism (NOMAS) conference in Chicago, we left for Washington, DC where I would be teaching composition full time at George Washington University while finishing my dissertation on the politics of masculinity and academic discourse. I wanted to look for a way to continue the experience I had at the conference but didn’t have a clue how to make that happen in DC.

While we lived in Chicago, Abby and I would grab the Reader every week, an independent newspaper, and we looked for something similar after we moved. The Washington City Paper was the closest we could find. Although it didn’t seem as hip and edgy, we still picked it up each Thursday, and one of those weeks she came across an ad in the classifieds for DC Men Against Rape. She suggested I might want to volunteer with them.

I called and went to a couple meetings, but the timing seemed wrong. Our daughter needed some extra attention, I was teaching three courses a semester, and I was trying to finish a dissertation that not only challenged me academically but also personally, since part of my intent was to break down the barriers between public and private discourses. I didn’t see how I could fit in another thing.

So I told them all of that and said I was sorry. I finished my dissertation in 1995, and shortly thereafter started teaching a composition course on masculinities using Kenneth Clatterbaugh’s Contemporary Perspectives on Masculinities and Michael Messner’s Politics of Masculinities. By the spring semester of 1997, I had changed the course topic to masculinity and violence, using Bernard Lefkowitz’s Our Guys, an investigation into the sexual assault of a mentally challenged 17 year old young woman by a group of privileged high school athletes in Glen Ridge, NJ.

It occurred to me that it would make sense to invite speakers from DC Men Against Rape to come and present to my classes. I contacted them through their website, and Michael Airhart, their volunteer Web master at the time, passed on my request to Jonathan Stillerman and Patrick Lemmon, both of whom were at the few meetings I attended in 1992. Jonathan called my office and said they could present, and then remembered that he needed to ask if I would be able to pay a speaker fee. He and Patrick had just formed a nonprofit called the Men’s Rape Prevention Project.

I couldn’t pay much of a fee, but they did come and speak to all three of my classes and did a great job. After the last presentation, Patrick told me they were having a speaker training in August and that I should think about participating. I told him to call me, and he did, and I went through the training, and sometime during the next year I started doing presentations in the Metro DC area, and became a volunteer, and later worked for, the Men’s Rape Prevention Project, which in 2001 was renamed Men Can Stop Rape.

Next: Reflections on How I Came to Work at Men Can Stop Rape

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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. Share

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