This week, Facebook came under fire for not pulling several pages that promote violence against women. Pages like “Violently Raping Your Friend Just for Laughs” remained up, even after they were reported to Facebook. After a dedicated campaign to get ad sponsors to pull their ads, Facebook said they would retrain staff to take down pages that promote gender-based violence.
That’s not enough, in my opinion. Sending the message that violence against women isn’t socially acceptable on Facebook is a step in the right direction. However, silencing the conversation on social media does not change how our culture views violence against women and rape. Thoughts on how to prevent rape and violence are below the cut.
Every time a sexual assault is reported, the focus becomes “How could the victim prevented this?” Police and media ask questions like, “What were you wearing?“, “How drunk was he?”, “You let him into your apartment?”, and “Did you fight or scream for help?”
It haunts me, but I have also asked these kinds of questions before. In college, one of my female friends accused a male friend of sexually assaulting her. When I asked him what happened, he said, “She invited me over, and we watched a movie while she was in her PJs. We made out and things got…heated. She never told me to stop. She just kind of curled up in a ball and refused to talk to me afterwards.” When I talked with my female friend, I asked her, “Why didn’t you say no?”
I realize now that was the wrong question to ask. This victim blaming does nothing to answer the real question: “How do we stop men from raping?” That is the white elephant in the room that no one seems to want to talk about.
Resources for how to teach boys and men about consent, in order to prevent them from raping, are few and far between. One provocative post I found this week was, “The Problem With Boys Will Be Boys”. Read the post itself, then follow the links in the article. Even if you’re not religious, I would also suggest reading, “After Steubenville: 25 Things Our Sons need to know about Manhood”. For parents, there is a very good primer called “The Healthy Sex Talk: Teaching Kids Consent, Ages 1-21″.
For everyone who is dating, I would suggest reading “Unmemorizing the ‘Silence is Sexy’ Date Script”. If that’s too long or wordy for you, just watch this short video instead. Finally, there’s a really awesome Ted talk on how to break out of the “man box” and break the cycle of violence against women.
Comments with links to more posts on how to teach consent are appreciated.