Editor, Daily Nexus,
This week, the Women’s Center has been hosting a number of events and workshops for Take Back the Night to promote awareness about sexual assault. On Tuesday night, I attended a workshop on self-defense and, on Wednesday night, I had planned to attend what was advertised as a “Learn How to Have Great Sex” workshop. Upon arriving at the Women’s Center on Wednesday night, my friend and I inquired as to where the great sex workshop was being held. We were told that there was no such workshop, but rather that it was a ploy to get men to attend to talk to them about sexual responsibility.
I was shocked by this response. Not only was I disappointed that the workshop I had planned to attend did not actually exist, but I was also completely offended at how demeaning this was toward men. While Take Back the Night presents itself as a program open to people of both sexes – “men can be victims of sexual assault, too” – this mere fact revealed that even such a self-professed open, tolerant and unbiased organization is subject to certain gender biases that pervade our society and thus maintains a deep-seated sexist attitude in its devaluation of men.
At the self-defense workshop the night before, we discussed the excuse that some men “can’t help themselves” when they sexually assault women. This view is demeaning in that it argues that men are not in control of their own bodies. Isn’t it equally demeaning to trick men into attending a sexual responsibility workshop with the promise of learning how to have great sex? This presents the idea that no man would care to actually attend such a workshop and learn sexual responsibility on his own.
While women are survivors who must be empowered to assert and defend themselves, men are horny bastards who only care about their own sexual needs. It perpetuates the stereotype that men are motivated by sex and that only men are motivated by sex. I found it strange that the ad in the Nexus addressed the workshop “Hey Guys,” but I figured that great sex is great for both parties and that, at the very least, I could pass the tips on to my boyfriend. Instead, I left the Women’s Center incredibly disappointed. Where was the workshop empowering women to have great sex with a partner of their own choice? Furthermore, where was the workshop for the men motivated to attend a sexual responsibility workshop of their own free will? It would seem that the Women’s Center doesn’t consider the people who would attend these workshops as a target audience. Rather than creating an open dialogue between the sexes on how to end sexual assault, this creates a divisive atmosphere which perpetuates not only the stereotype of the lustful man, but, by proxy, that of the man-hating feminist as well. The perpetuation of these stereotypes is a great disservice in the fight to end sexual assault.
Not all men are predisposed to commit sexual assault. Not even all the men who would attend a great sex workshop are predisposed to commit sexual assault. In fact, I would counter that most men who care enough to attend a workshop on how to have great sex must care about the needs of their partner. Thus, these men are probably sexually responsible already and would be open to attending such a workshop on their own. Furthermore, any man who may be predisposed to sexual assault who attends the workshop, finding himself tricked into attending something he did not intend to, will not be attending with an open mind. Not only is this ploy offensive to men, it simply does not accomplish what it was meant to accomplish. And that is the greatest injustice that can be done in the fight against sexual assault.
Janet Groth is a freshman art history major.