I decided to pursue graduate school in part to become involved in research and advocacy efforts related to preventing men’s violence against women. So much progress has been achieved in this area over the past few decades, I thought, “How hard can it be?” Little did I know untangling the mess of male socialization and the ways it contributes to our rape culture would be so difficult.
I was reminded of the ways male socialization contributes to our rape culture when news of the gang of boys from the football team who raped a young woman while she was passed out in Steubenville, Ohio was released. Despite referring to the girl as “dead,” some boys proceeded to rape her while others watched, not questioning the action at all. Although similar situations are unfortunately common, this particular story made it to the news only because some of the boys who watched also taped the situation, recording the rape and the conversation among the boys in the room.
The recording also indicates that other boys, however, questioned the behavior. Some challenged their peers by saying, “That’s not so funny” and one even asked, “What if that was your daughter?” Clearly, some boys in this high school are willing to challenge the rape culture.
Hearing about the boys who challenged their peers inspires me to want to understand more about the men who are willing to speak out against their socialization and challenge their friends who engage in rape-supportive behaviors. In fact, I am currently working on a research project to understand what motivates these men to become social justice allies who work to prevent men’s violence against women. I become more convinced every day that increasingly more men are becoming aware of the male socialization that contributes to the current rape culture and are unwilling to participate in it, some even actively working against it. These men are slowly creating a critical mass who speak out against men’s violence against women and encourage their friend’s to do the same. Hearing their stories can provide us with a deeper understanding of their experience to engage even more men in the process. Maybe my initial hopefulness about preventing men’s violence against women was not so wrong…
written by Allie Minieri