Let’s not be those guys

I was talking to somebody about this blog the other day, and I mentioned its mandate to tell stories that highlight the hope and groundwork we need to make a more just, sustainable world we can revel in. She was totally taken aback, and pointed out that the material often seems really heavy and serious. Fair point! What I have to share right now certainly fits that bill. I have something with a little more joy and beauty to share soon too, though.

So a couple of months ago, my friend Ashley Fairall (one of the Next Up crowd) invited me to contribute to a video responding to Men’s Rights Edmonton‘s moment in the spotlight this year. It’s been a bit of a call-and-response year in Edmonton. First, an advocacy organization called SAVE (Sexual Assault Victims of Edmonton) released a series of posters telling men considering sexual assault, “Don’t be that guy.” Men’s Rights Edmonton responded with posters that suggested men are being unfairly singled out for blame in this problem. The posters looked almost identical, but the second one said “Don’t be that girl.” As in, the girl who accuses someone of rape because she decides in the morning the sex wasn’t great.

First of all, false accusations are incredibly rare, especially given the amount of harassment and stigma rape victims suffer for approaching the police at all. Second, I’m really disheartened by the feeling of victimization among some men in my community when “rape culture” is discussed. The term refers to the strong currents of our culture that suggest that men can’t help themselves from attacking women when they’re turned on by the sight of a sports bra, and that women should take the brunt of responsibility for rape if they want to wear short skirts or walk home alone at night. I’m tired of it. I want men to step up and own this problem. Let’s be accountable for the fact that we benefit from that culture, and it’s up to us to change it.

That’s what I said in this compilation of responses to the “A Voice for Men” movement behind actions like the “Don’t be that girl” posters. It’s gotten some attention on the Huffington Post, and I think it’s worth watching. Please check it out, and share and discuss with the men in your life.

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