The Role Men (Can) Play
Sexualized assault will continue to be an issue of staggering proportions if it is labeled a “women’s issue.” Ending sexualized assault is everyone’s issue. Men need to be on the frontlines with women and non-binary folks, fighting this issue and actively integrating awareness into their everyday lives.
Gender scripts are the rules we learn growing up about how to interact with the opposite sex. They teach us things like women are emotional, men are not, men are supposed to chase and women are supposed to hold the line. They teach us that not conforming to gender norms is wrong. These gender scripts and attitudes colour how we see the world and can be so embedded in us that they are hard to see - but we live them out every day in ways that harm people.
Gender scripts are not an excuse for behaviour that hurts others.
We must all do the work of becoming aware of the gender scripts that are guiding us, to question them, to see how they hurt others and to do to the work of changing our perspectives.
We all have an important role to play when it comes to making our community a better and safer place to live.
What IS Sexualized Assault?
Sexualized Assault is a multi-faceted issue, where people use power and control to harm others in a sexualized way.
It can be rape. It can also be catcalling, harassment, groping, or pressure to have sex or do a sexual act that the individual does not feel comfortable with. It can be supporting gender norms that devalue some genders over others.
Noticing our blind spots and questioning how we think about the world is not easy, but it is how we end sexualized assault. Being an ally means thinking about the beliefs that guide your actions when you interact with women. It means exploring some uncomfortable truths, becoming accountable and committing to making a change: changing how you see the issue, changing how you act as a bystander and changing how you behave towards women and non-binary individuals.
What are some ways you can bring a #HowIWillChange mentality into your life?
Teach them respect and that everyone deserves to feel safe. Role model this behaviour, and have open conversations with them about the issues.
Take a proactive approach...
to learning about the issue rather than relying on others to help you get up to speed.
Call out everyday sexisms and...
patterns of sexualized violence when you see and hear them to stop them from being normalized into our culture.
Banish gender roles by...
teaching our youth to engage in activities that fit them as individuals.
Be 100% certain that...
there is ongoing and enthusiastic consent in any situation. Only yes means yes, anything else is a no. Pressuring a partner or continuing to do anything sexual when they have not verbally consented contributes to people not feeling comfortable or safe. Ask your partner and listen to their choice - respect is always sexy.
Check your Expectations
Do they owe you a blow job if you buy them a drink? Is sex on the first date what is “supposed to happen”? If they get you all worked up is it their job to take you to the finish line?
The bottom line is no person owes you any part of their body or any sexual act for anything.
Deal with Rejection
Rejection hurts - so we often don’t ask, we assume. Cause it’s easier right? And she knows the deal.
But is it really easier to wake up the next morning and realize fear of rejection caused you to harm someone? Is it really easier to wonder and worry if you something you said or did crossed the line?
Consent and respect are all about vulnerability. Learning to be ok with what we want, to be ok with asking, and to be ok with getting a no.
Be an ally! Take some adult sex ed, practice consent (aka asking for what you want before you do it) and learn to respect a no when you hear it.
Why “Not All Men” is not an appropriate response
Proclaiming or hiding behind “not all men” is not a way to respond to the real experiences women face every day. It only serves to dismiss them and to derail the actual conversation at hand.
The truth is that we are now openly aware of the reality that women face - there is no hiding from that. Use that knowledge as an opportunity to learn more about the issue and find out how you can actively change things for the better.