Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Brief Reportback From My Healthy Masculinity / Bystander Intervention training with Men Can Stop Rape (aka "Why Should Men Stop Rape?").

 (Feb. 17th, 2015, NYC) 
 view from my early morning two-block walk  
from the midtown Holiday Inn to the MCSR training. 
 It was very cold. 
 But I felt warm and purposeful inside. 

I did it y'all. I did the training! Wow. Thank you everyone who encouraged, contributed, and promoted for my fundraiser, or just sent love! You all made this an actuality, and i'm so humbled and grateful. You've not only helped me actualize passion and purpose, you have helped make the world a healthier, safer, less oppressive place. I just finished sending out all the handmade thank you cards for folks who requested it in their perks, they were fun to make, and it felt really good to send them out.

i'm still digesting a lot of this training, and have been so busy since coming back from NYC as well, but i can tell you that I am already connecting with other artist/activist/educators around co-creating art-based curriculum and taking it to youth we work with (excited!!).

And, I also want to share some of what I learned from the MCSR training. It rocked my world. I will be very brief with the content of 3 very full days:

1) the Dominant Story of rape prevention is that the onus is on women. We made a long list of all the things women are told to "prevent" rape. Walk in groups, monitor your drink, don't dress provocatively, etc, etc. (to make it intersectional with race, we also listed all the things that unarmed black men are told to do to not get shot by police)

2) the Dominant Story also makes women and girls responsible for rape because it is a victim-blaming culture.

3) this is NOT "rape prevention" (or in the case of black men, not "murder prevention"), at best, these behaviors are Risk Reduction.

4) so what is the Counter Story of rape prevention? Men MUST rise up to dismantle rape culture. Why must men be involved in rape prevention?
a) because while most men do NOT rape, most rapists are men.
b) because boys and men are survivors too.
c) because all men know survivors. All men.
d) because rape culture dehumanizes men, and makes it seem that all men are potential rapists. We have a vested interest in reclaiming our humanity.
e) because of sexism/patriarchy, unfortunately male voices are valued more, and boys/men may listen more attentively to men modelling counter-story values. Whatever your stance on Bill Cosby is, no one took the voices of several women who claimed to be sexually assaulted by him seriously (over the course of decades) until a man, Hannibal Burress, made a statement/joke about it.

These are just some of the reasons why men must and can prevent rape from happening. And bystander intervention training with a "side course" on healthy masculinity is considered to be the most effective way to prevent rape. Unlike approaches that assumes that all men are rapists waiting to happen (Dominant Story of rape prevention and masculinity,) Bystander intervention assumes that if a young man sees something wrong going down, he will intervene (Counter Story of rape prevention, and masculinity). This gives him the tools to do that. And statistics show that those boys/men do not go on to sexually assault women themselves.

There is sooooo much more that was shared in this training, and this update shares more about the Dominant and Counter stories of rape prevention, than the Dominant and Counter stories of masculinity. We all know the counter-stories of masculinity though. Think of a strong man in your life. Not on tv, your life. Could be a teacher, a pastor, a lover, best friend, uncle, brother, or your dad. You may remember them being there for you, being compassionate, passionate about social justice, jovial, responsible, wise, loving, nurturing, spiritual, creative, respectful, etc. These are just some of the masculine qualities that don't get as celebrated as the Rambos and gangstas and playas and Donald Trumps of our time. It's time to rewrite the narrative. Because these are the strong men all boys can be if supported. The type of men who can stop rape. 

Thus ends my "brief" synopsis :)

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