Originally posted on November 15, 2011
James Landrith posted an excellent article about some of the things men can do to get involved in preventing sexual violence. I had thought about writing something similar, but he beat me to it and did a much better job of it than I could. From his article:
[T]here are many other under-utilized opportunities for men to get involved in sexual violence work. Some examples are below:
- Volunteer and train as a crisis line counselor. – Contrary to opinion among some in the blogosphere who do not engage in real world advocacy, not all female survivors want to talk to another woman. Some female survivors are impartial with regard to the gender of the person on the other end of the phone. Others still, prefer a male voice on the phone. Additionally, some male survivors may prefer to talk to another man.
- Join an advocacy organization that is involved locally. – Attend meetings, sign up for committees and participate in campaigns and events. Make your presence known through your actions and attitude. Don’t be afraid to make suggestions or question the status quo if you believe there is a better or more efficient way to accomplish a particular goal. Remember that an idea’s validity is not determined based on the genitalia of its proponent. The people who believe such nonsense tend not to be involved in the real world grunt work.
- Participate in a survivor speaker’s bureau. – If you are a survivor and at a place in your healing where you feel comfortable sharing, this can be a very healing and high impact form of involvement. Please remember that most survivors will NEVER feel comfortable with public disclosure. It is not a reflection on your healing or courage if you choose to not get involved with public speaking. For those of you who do get involved, you will be surprised at how many organizations are eager to hear from male survivors. The overwhelmingly vast majority of survivor speakers tend to be white females and event planners are looking to diversify their discussion topics. The impact of your presentation may be the very thing a survivor suffering in silence needs to feel validated and worthy of healing. Your words can help change someone’s life and further heal your own wounds.
- Speak out online and offline when you feel the need. – There are so many ways to change opinions and make an impact that don’t require the access and approval of specific organizations. Campaigns to rid Facebook of troubling groups that make light of sexual violence; correcting rape myths in everyday life as you confront them; and getting involved in legislative and legal campaigns when possible are additional options.
These are great options for men who want to get involved. As much I write about the hassle male survivors and their advocates face, there are plenty of people willing to work with men in an inclusive and equal way. As James notes, you may need to exercise some patience when dealings with some of the female volunteers and also understand that some female survivors may not trust you from the start.
James also made another important point:
Far too often, advocates and volunteers completely lose sight of the real reason they are doing the work – the needs of the individual survivor and potential future victims. So long as you always bear in mind both the why AND who, you will be prepared to make a real and lasting impact.
I have seen that a few times, and in my experience it tends to happen when people get caught up in political doctrine or when they have heard so many horrific stories. The latter is harder to deal with because it is natural to become jaded and misguided when confronted with that much pain and cruelty. The former is never justifiable. Ideology and dogma have no place in advocacy for victims of sexual violence because every person’s experience is different. There is no one way abuse happens, one way that people cope with it or one explanation for why people abuse. Doctrine blinds people from seeing things as the complex reality that they are.
Speaking of blinding doctrine, when typhonblue asked James “As a survivor of a female rapist, has any woman ever had to work hard to earn your trust?”, James answered the question with no apparent problem. However, Noahbrand and ozymandias42, the site owners and moderators of No, Seriously, What About Teh Menz?, took offense to the question.
Typhon: Seriously? That is SUCH a Not Okay comment I don’t even have words for it. You do not question a survivor’s coping mechanisms or their triggers, you work around them. There is no logic in retraumatizing a rape survivor in order to satisfy your ideas of fairness towards men.
You are on the thinnest of thin ice, here. Honestly, the only thing keeping me from banning you right now is my policy that I warn first before banning.
@dungone: typhon’s question was pretty clearly calling into question the validity of female survivors’ experiences by implying that if James doesn’t mistrust women, it’s de facto evidence of misandry on the part of female rape survivors. It’s a pattern we’re familiar with, from her and others, and after talking it over, Ozy and I decided to be much nicer than either of us wanted to be on initially reading it. We do not fucking minimize or invalidate the experiences of rape survivors ’round these parts, nor tell them how they are allowed to deal with those experiences, thanks so very much.
As Daran noted, Noah and ozy’s response to typhon is ironic since they essentially told her that she could not deal with her abuse the way that works best for her on their blog. That is a pretty nasty thing to do, especially since typhon’s question is valid and was answered by James. I can only assume Noah and ozy think that women always work to gain the trust male survivors. That has not been my experience.
However, what Noah and ozy did has been my experience, and it is one of the reasons why I distrust feminists. When people who claim they are on my side will do what those two did, I am not letting my guard down. No one should have to put up with that kind of treatment.
That said, if we can get more people like James in those support groups, perhaps that will no longer be a problem.