Engaging Men: It’s Up to You

“We have a big problem, and we need your help … It’s called sexual assault and it has to stop.”

“If she doesn’t consent, or if she can’t consent, it’s rape, it’s assault.”

These statements are from the most recent PSA from the Obama Administration’s campaign, 1 is 2 Many, addressing violence against women. It will only take 60 seconds of your time:

One of the goals of 4WomenWorldwide is to engage men in the conversation – we can’t possibly put a stop to violence against women without the help of our brothers. They must be our allies. Sexual assault and domestic violence are misunderstood by much of society, but this is often because men and women alike don’t believe it’s something that can happen to them – or if it did, that it was somehow not “really rape.”

I don’t generally post PSAs here because, too often, they pull on our emotional strings without getting the message across. The work by Vice President Biden, invested in this issue since the early 90s when he drafted the Violence Against Women Act, and President Obama may actually change the attitude of some. And for now, that’s progress. Here are some of the points the PSA got right:

Speak

“If I saw it happening, I was taught I had to do something.”

We must speak. We must not be afraid to talk about it and call it what it is. Honesty and sheer vulnerability are painful but are imperative in any movement. Violence against women is no exception.

The “B” Word

“If I saw it happening, I’d never blame her. I’d help her.”

Blame. Victims are to blame. This is the infamous line – whether it’s couched in a question, like “well what were you wearing” or “how much did you have to drink?” – it’s blame. And it’s incredibly misplaced. If “no” is uttered once, that’s enough. Anyone who crosses that line is committing rape. When we finally impress this upon society, we will be making huge strides.

Be Part of the Solution

“We need all of you to be a part of the solution.”

Violence against women, in all its forms, is a battle that must be fought by all of us. Engaging men is an imperative part of the solution that is often overlooked. But these men aren’t afraid to speak out. And you shouldn’t be either. It is up to you – to speak out, to place the blame where it belongs, and to become a part of the solution. If you haven’t yet, watch the video. And please, pass it along.

“It’s up to all of us to put an end to sexual assault. It’s up to you.”

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