All men can play a vital role in the prevention of sexual violence. Here are just a few ways:
Speak up. You will probably never see a rape in progress, but you will see and hear attitudes and behaviors that degrade women and promote rape. When your best friend tells a joke about rape, say you don't find it funny. When you read an article that blames a rape survivor for being assaulted, write a letter to the editor. When laws are proposed that limit women's rights, let politicians know that you don't support them. Do anything but remain silent.
Support survivors of rape. Rape will not be taken seriously until everyone knows how common it is. In the U.S. alone, more than one million women and girls are raped each year (Rape in America, 1992). By learning to sensitively support survivors in their lives, men can help both women and other men feel safer to speak out about being raped and let the world know how serious a problem rape is.
Contribute your time. Work with the Campus Against Violence Program and other organizations in the community (Life Crisis Center) to prevent sexual violence. Come out and support on-campus events to raise awareness of issues of sexual violence. There is power and strength in numbers. It will take both men and women to end sexual violence.
Talk with women about how the risk of being raped affects their daily lives; about how they want to be supported if it happened to them; about what they think men can do to prevent sexual violence. If you're willing to listen, you can learn a lot from women about the impact of rape and how to stop it.
Talk with men about how it feels to be seen as a potential rapist; about the fact that 10-20% of all males will be sexually abused in their lifetimes; about whether they know someone who's been raped. Learn about how sexual violence touches the lives of men and what we can do to stop it.
Be aware of language. Words are very powerful, especially when spoken by people with power over others. We live in a society in which words are often used to put women down, where calling a girl or woman a "bitch," "freak," "whore," or "baby" is common. Such language sends a message that females are less than fully human. When we see women as inferior, it becomes easier to treat them with less respect, disregard their rights and ignore their well-being.
Work to end other oppressions. Rape feeds off many forms of prejudice - including racism, homophobia and religious discrimination. By speaking out against any beliefs and behaviors, including rape, that promote one group of people as superior to another and deny other groups their full humanity, you support everyone's equality.
Citation: "What Men Can Do" handout created by Men Can Stop Rape - www.mencanstoprape.org