Working towards ending sexual violence and rape culture is a constant collective effort in which we all must do our part, and it all begins by challenging patriarchy. This is why the participation of men is critical.
Patriarchy is a political structure created to benefit men, but it’s also an ideology that has been engrained in us since we were kids. Moreover, patriarchy is the entitlement we feel to sexually harass people, perpetrate sexual violence, have power over another person’s body, life decisions and economic needs.
Men are not only more likely to benefit from patriarchy, but we can also be affected by it. For example, when boys and men are victims of sexual violence the stigma around male survivors and the problem of toxic masculinity makes coming forward even more difficult, because of the myth that “boys and men can’t be raped.”
While engaging men in these conversations around being allies and taking action, it’s important to create a compassionate approach that doesn’t erase male-male identifying survivors and victims.
Sexual violence is NOT a “women’s issue.”
THINGS WE CAN DO:
1. Remember that rape, sexual harassment and sexual violence doesn’t just happen to women, trans-women, femmes or “weak” people. It can happen to any person, of any age, background, income level – anyone. No one “asks for it.”
2. As a man you are not entitled to sexually harass or invade another individual’s body or personal boundaries, EVER.
3. Step up and approach friends, loved ones, and colleagues who participate in rape culture by joking or making harsh remarks about rape. Be constructive and patient, and remember that undoing years of thought behavior that is rooted in patriarchy can be difficult and will take time. CHALLENGE THE MEN IN YOUR LIFE who perpetuate sexual violence and patriarchy.
4. Educate yourself and others about how to get and give consent.
5. Use your privilege as a man to be a resource for victims and survivors, by offering your support or by helping to uplift their voices in spaces that refuse to acknowledge their needs.
Remembering these steps and using them in our day to day life will not only help us be more in tune, but it will help us take responsibility for our very own internalized patriarchy and sexism.
I know — I’ve been there, and it is normal to feel defensive, but try not to.
Instead, think about how we consume and accept the various forms in which sexual violence manifests itself in society, and see it as an opportunity to reflect, break down and deconstruct social norms that allow rape culture to exist.
After all, sexual violence and rape culture ends with us.
By Luis S.