In response to Alec Mouhibian’s article, “Clearing the Angry Air” (Daily Nexus, May 5) we, Men Against Rape (MAR), would like to make some clarifications. It is unclear what Mouhibian’s definition of sexual assault and rape is, though he accuses us of having too wide a conception. He cites the example of his friend’s experience with child molestation, and we agree that legitimately falls under the category of rape. However, not all sexual assaults are of that kind. According to UCSB policy, which is derived nearly verbatim from the California Penal Code, “the absence of informed consent is the critical component distinguishing a crime from a sexual encounter.” This emphasis on consent informs our working definition of sexual assault. From this you can recognize that there is a continuum of sexual assault, including verbal abuse, ass grabbing, rape and child molestation, among others. The unifying characteristic underlying these behaviors is the absence of consent between the parties involved. There is no hierarchy of pain. There is no sense in comparing people’s misery in order to try to prove a point. Our goal as MAR is to end sexual assault, all of which is real violence.

Mouhibian clearly has very strong feelings about this issue. Yet, he has never come to our meetings and has no qualms about passing judgment on what we do. We are working to end violence such as that experienced by his friend. Mouhibian’s attack on the character of our group is thus counterproductive. We would like to extend an invitation to Mr. Mouhibian to attend an open forum that we are hosting on sexual assault. Now is the time to have serious dialogue on this issue. The forum will be Thursday, May 12 in the Santa Rosa formal lounge. All are welcome to attend, no matter their viewpoint.

Carl Barnes is a graduate student in philosophy.