-By Mary Liepold
Editor In Chief
The subject was sexual harassment and sexual assault. Both sides of the long conference table were filled with young men, most of them ignoring the pizza on their plates and waving their hands in the air in their eagerness to speak. Standing at the back of the room, where I was, and in chairs along the sides were a handful of women.
The facilitators, Kedrick Griffin, Senior Director of Programs for Men Can Stop Rape (MCSR), and Joe Vess, Director of Training, presented two scenarios, one involving harrassment and the other potential assault. The 35 men who had come to DC’s Georgetown Universitycampus from three colleges and two area high schools offered a total of 13 practical interventions to stop the abuse. And it wasn’t all theory; many were strategies they had already used successfully.
The scene was the January 31, 2012 launch of Where Do You Stand?, a partnership between MCSR and the American Association of University Women(AAUW). Like the women in the room, though, the AAUW is involved primarily as supporter and consultant. I asked Joe afterwards: “What’s the one message the campaign and the organization are most committed to getting across to men?”
“It has two parts,” Joe said. “This is your issue. And you can do something about it.The best news is that some of these programs are starting in middle school. I meet college guys who have been doing this work for as long as I have―seven or eight years. The MOST (Men of Strength) Club is in its fourth year at Georgetown and a little newer at American and George Washington, but it’s been at the DC high school School Without Walls for 10 years. These guys are full of energy and ideas. They always inspire me.”
The focus of the new campaign, which is being rolled out nationwide with posters, tabling, workshops, and trainings, is bystander intervention: finding the courage “to challenge the dominant narrative,” as one of the college men explained. It asks the question “What kind of man do you want to be?” Its goal, and the theme of the group discussions among men and boys from 11 to 22, is a redefinition of masculinity as strength without violence. Read the rest of the article.