Just in case you missed it, Zerlina Maxwell went on FOX News this weekend and brilliantly put rape culture on blast. While appearing as a guest on Hannity, the prolific writer and social media commentator said that when it comes to preventing rape, we must look beyond the reactionary impulse to just give women more guns. Instead, we need to teach men not to rape.
“I think that the entire conversation is wrong. I don’t want anybody to be telling women anything. I don’t want men to be telling me what to wear and how to act, not to drink. And I don’t, honestly, want you to tell me that I needed a gun in order to prevent my rape. In my case, don’t tell me if I’d only had a gun, I wouldn’t have been raped. Don’t put it on me to prevent the rape.”
Maxwell’s comments got lots of attention and caused a ripple effect on weekend social media. Implicit in them was that the problem isn’t just individual behaviors, but a culture of patriarchy. This morning, she followed them up with a piece at EBONY.com on five ways we can teach men not to rape. “Rape culture is a pervasive part of our society because of social conditioning,” Maxwell wrote. “Yet we struggle to find ways to avoid patterns of victim blaming and many of us would rather advise women on the precautions they should take to avoid being raped as opposed to starting at the root of the problem: teaching men and boys not to be rapists in the first place.”
Here’s a snippet of the five points that Maxwell makes. To read the entire list, march on over to EBONY.
1. Teach young men about legal consent: Legal consent is number one for a reason. Without it, sexual contact with someone is rape whether you intended to rape or not. A woman who is drunk, unconscious, sleeping cannot give legal consent. And it’s not about a woman simply saying “no,” it’s really about making certain she’s saying yes.
2. Teach young men to see women’s humanity, instead of seeing them as sexual objects there for male pleasure: There is a reason why women are shamed into silence and teenage boys in Steubenville, Ohio are caught on camera laughing about gang raping an unconscious girl at a party. The dehumanization of women spans all areas of American life.
3. Teach young men how to express healthy masculinity: The question that’s being asked about what women can do to prevent violence against them is the wrong question. It’s not what can a woman say or do that can prevent being attacked. We need to turn that paradigm.
4. Teach young men to believe women who come forward and not to blame the victim: The vast majority of women do not report their rapes to the police and many more only tell one or two people in confidence.
5. Teach young men about bystander intervention: Both Men Stopping Violence and Men Can Stop Rape have bystander intervention workshops for men of all ages. “It’s about community accountability,” says Pandit, “We require men to talk to other men in their lives and tell them about these programs. It is important that we have community networks that hold men accountable.”