Art by Tarush Mohanti // Daily Nexus
Through a series of fortunate events, I began my work with Campus Advocacy Resources & Education last fall. At C.A.R.E., we are passionate about preventing interpersonal violence (e.g. sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking), advocating for survivors and ultimately working towards an environment where students are free to thrive without fear of such threats to their bodies and minds. Over the past two quarters, I’ve had the opportunity to contribute to events, presentations and workshops on self-care, how law enforcement agencies respond to domestic violence, fun and appropriate ways to clearly communicate affirmative consent and the role toxic masculinity plays in the epidemic of interpersonal violence. It has been my work and research on toxic versus healthy masculinity that has me particularly excited for the big plans C.A.R.E. has for the beginning of spring quarter.
Everyone wants to make the world a better place, but sometimes it’s hard to know whether what you’re doing is having any tangible positive impact when your wrists are sore from making hundreds of button pins or you’ve just passed out a forest’s worth of event flyers. Yet, it is the accumulation of these innumerable small steps and interactions that create community and progress, and I’ve seen this firsthand. This April, I will be proud to see all of this culminate when we bring the national organization Men Can Stop Rape to UCSB for a series of trainings and a keynote speech on consent and hookup culture (Isla Vista may be a mecca for this). The keynote will take place Tuesday, April 5 at 6 p.m. in Girvetz 1004 and on Wednesday, April 6 at 6 p.m. in the Women’s Center Conference Room I will be co-presenting with my good friends Siavash Zohoori and Jason Ouyang about detoxifying masculinity.
Toxic masculinity is an often misunderstood term, so I will reference a simple definition from activist and feminist writer Bailey Poland:
Toxic masculinity is the version of masculinity that values physical strength and aggression, downplays overall emotional well-being and expression, connects men’s value to domination by force and sexual prowess and often finds its voice in misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia.
An unhealthy and restrictive definition of what it means to be a “real man” hurts both women and the men who perpetuate it. Men and masculinity are not intrinsically harmful, but this toxic strain of masculinity is what needs to be rooted out. I love the men in my life and I want all of us to be able to express ourselves in ways that make us feel happy and self-actualized without harming ourselves and others. Every human being deserves as much.
I am often asked why I’m involved in the work I do since men are woefully underrepresented in issues that disproportionately affect women. Unfortunately, I fear I have no particularly profound explanation beyond this is simply the right thing to do, and I wanted to do something where I could be effective without simply imitating what a woman could be doing better. None of this has ever struck me as revolutionary and it is genuinely disconcerting that at some indiscernible point I began to receive labels such as “radical” when saying plain truths.
When someone says that AIDS medication should be affordable for sick patients, we do not consider them to be an anti-pharmaceutical activist, nor do we call those outraged by pedophilia pro-children radicals. It is then perplexing when those who understand sexual violence is a plague both on and off college campuses are frequently referred to by pejoratives like “social justice warrior” or “feminazi,” which imply that their critiques are unfounded and nonsensical. That this could be said when up to 25 percent of college women will be victims of attempted or completed sexual assault and one in six men will experience sexual abuse in their lifetime goes to show the pernicious harm of toxic masculine ideologies. The truth should not be up for debate nor a position of progressive radicalism; it should be the baseline standard — and men need to be a part of ending interpersonal violence and dismantling toxic masculinity.
It is those who occupy social positions of relative privilege who must be a part of deconstructing inequality and building true equity.
However, this is not simply an argument of self-interest; it’s about creating a community where we all can thrive. I say all this with full awareness that bodies like mine have historically rested directly between the crosshairs of a racist patriarchal system and false rape accusations that allegedly sought to defend the honor of White women from the specter of black hypermasculinity and lasciviousness. The lynching and inhumane violence enacted upon black men tragically shows how interconnected systems of oppression are.
Thus, the work that needs to be completed must be done by a coalition of the informed and the willing, as is the case with any issue preventing true social justice. Ending interpersonal violence is a struggle that needs to be undertaken by both men and women. White people must be involved in demolishing white supremacy, anti-blackness and institutional racism. Straight men and women must be ardent advocates for the full equality of LGBTQ people. Cisgender individuals need to fully embrace and support their transgender peers. It is those who occupy social positions of relative privilege who must be a part of deconstructing inequality and building true equity. This is not a favor we pay to our fellow human beings; it is a moral imperative.
Rape culture isn’t just a society where we give thumbs-up and high-fives to rapists; it is much more insidious than that. Rape culture is when popular narratives are so preoccupied with the idea of false rape accusations that they miss the fact that only two in 100 rapists will ever be imprisoned. It is that nearly 90 percent of rapists are the acquaintances, relatives or romantic partners of survivors. It is the fact that the majority of sexual assaults are never reported due to fear of humiliation or not being believed, or that the legal system will exert further traumatization. It is regarding women as “locks” that can be opened by the “keys” of smooth talk, alcohol, drugs and persistence. Rape culture is when we are more concerned with what someone was wearing than with what happened to them.
I hope that you will join me and C.A.R.E. on April 5 and 6 for discussions on all of these topics — not because we will end rape culture and change society with two days of programming, but so we can come to a better understanding of ourselves and each other, even if we are not in full agreement. Together is the only way we will create the community that UCSB deserves.
The Men Can Stop Rape keynote address on consent and hookup culture will be at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 5 in Girvetz 1004. C.A.R.E.’s student workshop on detoxifying masculinity will be at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, April 6 in the Women’s Center Conference Room.
“The truth should not be up for debate”
Here we see the demagoguery inherent in the feminist position. Yes, the truth SHOULD be up for debate more than anything else. How else are we supposed to discover truth, if not by debate?
Taking that quotation in context, are you suggesting that saying sexual assault against young women and sexual abuse of males are real and serious issues is untrue, unestablished, and up for debate? Is this truly demagoguery?
That’s not a black and white question. Sexual assault is a real issue, but a lot of the statistics people use (like the “1 in 5” or “1 in 4” statistic) are dubious at best.
There is no rape culture in the West. According to the Department of Justice, the rate of sexual assault on campus is “only” 6.1 per thousand and non-college students face a higher rate of sexual assault. Yet again we have feminist anti-rape activist pushing the false 1-in-5 meme. http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/rsavcaf9513.pdf And my short-cut confirmation is a the Stanford University Campus Culture Survey: http://news.stanford.edu/news/2015/october/climate-survey-summary-100115.html So what did Stanford learn about sexual assault among its undergrads and grad students? “A survey of Stanford University undergraduate and graduate students has found that 1.9 percent of respondents have experienced a sexual assault, as defined in… Read more »
Reading over the AAU study, it seems you are cherry picking statistics. You pulled the 1.9 sexual assault statistic from a chart that lists “attempted rape” “completed rape” and “threat of rape” separately. So even based on this strict “criminal”(in the articles own words) definition of rape the total figure is actually 6.1% not 1.9%. You are right. The definitions of rape and sexual assault do vary. The NCVS statistic unlike the NISVS and the CSA does not specifically ask about ” incidents in which the victim was unable to provide consent due to drug or alcohol use; forced to… Read more »
“I just want you to know that when people argue against you it is not because they are afraid of you debunking their perspective or that they are simply irrational. People are justifiably offended by the lack of empathy present in this kind of argument.”
One million times this, could not have put it better myself.
I wrote the post you replied to and I am a survivor. On two separate occasions a woman I asked to dance in a club grabbed my junk without my prior consent. According to current feminist doctrine that makes me equal to someone that was violently raped in terms of being a survivor.
“The Men Can Stop Rape” keynote address? This is exactly why so many young people are turning away in disgust from feminism. It’s gotten so out of hand blaming men for EVERYTHING wrong between the genders, get a fucking grip. There’s no rape culture, there’s no patriarchy, Western women are the most privileged beings in human history. Feminists think that ANY form of masculinity is toxic and that acting like a man in any way is wrong. Actions speak louder than words and their actions make it clear: feminists do not want equality, they want institutionalized superiority.
It’s very clear that virtue signaling western feminists don’t want to deal with real rape culture in the islamic world. They’ll do the safe thing and harp on white western men, and ignore the 3rd world culture of rape and murder found under sharia law. It demonstrates their cowardice and dependency on their betters who protect them and are slandered by them for their efforts.
This is a wonderful article, thanks so much for writing and promoting equity and compassion amongst all people!
Any sociological model that incorporates “toxic masculinity” is pseudoscience.