Do you know four women? Then you probably know someone who has, or will be, raped. We would rather believe that the average rapist is a sociopath who cannot control his sexual drives. It is easier to think that it is not our fathers, brothers or friends who are the perpetrators, but that it is some nameless, faceless person who cannot be detected until it is too late. Sadly, however, men are taught that women are sexual objects to be had and that it is OK to degrade them in speech and act. Rape is not antisocial; it is a product of the way we raise our children. The culture ferments attitudes and uses images that do not give a clear message that sexual assault and harassment is wrong, and in fact border upon encouragement of these practices. The result is a society where men have distorted and misguided views about what is acceptable behavior. If you think this is false, just think back to the last time you saw men on DP catcalling from their balconies, grabbing a woman’s body without her permission or insulting another person with the words “bitch” or “pussy”.

Now envision a world where rape, sexual assault, harassment and discrimination are unheard of. Men and women would be treated equally. People would respect each other in public and private settings. Men would no longer feel external pressure to front to one another to prove that their masculinity is intact. Women would feel safe walking alone at night. Men would feel safe to cry and express their emotions. Couples would feel safe holding hands in public regardless of their gender(s). Our language would not associate power and strength with “masculinity” nor would it associate weakness with “femininity.”

What can be done to make this world real? The simplest way to effect change would be to not treat people, especially women, as sexual objects in words and actions. Touching another person’s body without their permission is an invasion of their personal space and privacy, and is an affront to their sense of security. A word to the wise (guys): Touching or grabbing a woman without her consent is a count of sexual battery. The all too common practice of men insulting one another using words that are derogatory to women and homosexuals (bitch, fag, etc.) is unacceptable. Furthermore, we ought to hold people who engage in these and related practices accountable. Silence in the face of discrimination is tacit consent of the speech or actions that have transpired. If “boys will be boys” then responsible men will be in short supply.

Here’s one thing we’re doing: We’re holding a concert and rally entitled “The Mask of Masculinity” in Anisq’ Oyo’ Park on Thursday, May 15, beginning at 5 p.m. and ending at sunset – after which there should be a cool lunar eclipse. We will have speakers addressing such topics as dating in I.V., language, the media and role models. We will also have live bands as well as informational booths, all of which are aimed at entertaining and educating.

If you are interested in more information, contact us at . We meet on Thursdays from 6-8 p.m. at the Women’s Center. You can also attend Students Stopping Rape meetings on Wednesdays from 5-7 p.m., also at the Women’s Center. For more information, contact the Rape Prevention Education Peers at or Take Back the Night at .

What are you doing to make it real?

Carl Barnes is a philosophy graduate student and a member of Men Against Rape.