Friday, February 25, 2011


A canadian judge, Robert Dewar, recently let a convicted rapist get off with no jail time because of "inviting circumstances," i.e. the survivor was wearing a revealing outfit. Let me make this very clear, Mr. Dewar: Clothes don't consent to sexual activity, past sexual history can't give consent, going off alone with someone doesn't give that person consent, and "wanting to party" does not mean wanting to be raped. Rape is rape, even if the survivor is not the "perfect victim" seen in the media. Rapists are the ones that deserve your blame, scrutiny and distain, Mr. Dewar. Your heinous victim blaming is nothing short of appalling, and you deserve to lose your job.

Here's the Jezebel article. And here's the linked article.

-Emily R, NPA Volunteer

Thursday, February 17, 2011

This is a great example of how cultural influence may impact the rate of sexual assault

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

"Consent is Sexy" Slogan Under Fire at CMU

A friend of mine who attends Central Michigan University and is a volunteer for their Sexual Aggression Peer Advocates (SAPA) group posting a link to this article in Grand Central Magazine (a student-run campus publication) regarding a recent t-shirt that SAPA produced for a fundraiser.

The shirt has the slogan "It turns me on when you say 'Yes'" on the front and "Consent is Sexy: Ask First" on the back with a pair of red lips.

The writer of the piece (which you can read here) claims that the slogan "Consent is Sexy" is "offensive" to survivors of sexual assault and rape.  She then goes on to claim that the shirt makes sexualized violence seem "cute."

Although she does bring in some valid points, she misses the point that the shirt is designed to raise awareness as a form of everyday activism. We at SAPAC use this and other slogans when we spread our message across our campus. We find it effective for several reasons:
  • It speaks truth. Consent in so many ways is sexy. We talk about this in SAPAC all the time. Many of us think it's a tremendous turn on when our parter asks if we like something or if something feels good, and the same effect becomes apparent when we hear those things from our partner. It seems as if the writer of this piece thinks that consent (and sex, for that matter) must always be a serious issue—what's the fun in that?
  • It focuses on a positive. Too often, we in the movement get accused of blaming people for sexual violence and looking only at the negatives, like statistics. Messages like "Consent is Sexy" counters this argument and puts a positive spin on our message. A message like this does not bluntly state "Stop Rape"; instead, it focuses on a positive thing that someone can in in his or her every day in order to make sure that they are engaging in wanted sexual activity. It is simply a way to make sure people are protecting themselves and their partners when engaging in sex—the focus does not (and should not) only be on the bad, less we drive people away from the message.
  • It does use humor, but humor is an effective tool. We talk about pretty serious issues in SAPAC and SAPA, and we always are conscious of our tone when we do so. However, we also know that humor is an effective way to get our message across. How many of us cracked a joke in a workshop we have given to lighten the mood? How many of us find funny videos or articles on this issue and share them with our peers? How many of us laughed at the jokes Dr. Keith Edwards integrated in his lecture last week? The truth is that although we talk about serious issues, using humor is an effective and less-offensive way to spread awareness about sexualized violence, and to make the messages of SAPAC and SAPA more tolerable to some audiences.
  • It raises awareness—enough said. Anything that gets this message across in an effective manner is a good thing.
  • Its message is a true form of everyday activism. Not only is the shirt itself a form of activism, but isn't asking for consent a form of activism? Asking for consent is one of the best ways to show your partner that you care about him or her.  If it encourages people to make sure that they have informed, un-coerced, clear consent before engaging in sexual activities, then it has done its job. It's things like this shirt that show people that you don't have to be highly involved in these issues if you do not want to be—rather, your everyday actions can make a huge difference for the sake of this movement.
I would encourage you all to leave a comment on the article page and show your support for SAPA and "Consent is Sexy." We must show that we stand by our allies in this movement and show folks what activism is really about.

Mark Navarro
Men's Activism Program Co-Coordinator

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Disturbing Rhetoric Surrounding Male Hormonal Birth Control

As many of you may have heard, active research is being done on male hormonal birth control options such as pills or implants. Some articles claim that these options could be made commercially available in as little as 5 years. An MSNBC article quotes Dr. Andrea Coviello, a researcher at the Population Center for Research in Reproduction, as saying: "It largely depends on how funding continues. The technology is there. We know how it would work." In short, male birth control options beyond condoms may soon be a reality.

In my opinion, this is great news. The more contraceptive options, the better. This option is especially exciting because it allows for heterosexual couples to enjoy the benefits of the most effective contraception, even if the woman is unable to take OBC for some reason. It is also a step in the right direction toward more sex equality in reproduction and contraception. Reproduction in general, but especially contraception, has often been disproportionally the woman's responsibility. While it is true that women will always have greater responsibility concerning reproduction, simply because we are the ones who get pregnant, this emerging research gives me hope that that may be changing for the better.

Unfortunately, one wouldn't get that message from popular media covering this story. The MSNBC article cited above, and the first article to come up in Google when searching "male birth control pill," is disturbingly misogynistic. The main problem with the article is what quotes from interviews the author, John Schieszer, chose to include. One such gem is the following:
"'It is time for men to have some control. I think it would empower men and deter some women out there from their nefarious plans,' says Brown. 'Some women are out there to use men to get pregnant. This could deter women from doing this. An athlete or a singer is someone who could be a target and they could put a stop to that.'" 
That the author chose to include this quote as a reasonable viewpoint is horrifying. Rather than taking the time to acknowledge the benefits this technology has for reproductive choice, the author decided to tout blatant sexism and misogyny.

The comments on this article were, if possible, even more disturbing. John Doe -1925461 writes:
 "it is easy enough for a woman to get pregnant on purpose and leave a be a man in the united states and try to fight for custody of your child is the most futile, depressing, and expensive ordeal you can imagine, I would rather be a woman and get raped daily for the rest of my life than go through it all again."
I'm not going to post it here, but the comment by InterestedWatcher is also worth a read. The main themes in the comments seem to be the following: women routinely "trap" men through pregnancy and male hormonal BC would "free" men, and STD rates would increase.

What do you guys think about this?

Another point the article makes is that many man would not use hormonal BC. One man is quoted as saying:
“'I would rather rely on a solution that doesn’t involving medicating myself and the problems women have had with hormone therapy doesn’t make me anxious to want to sign on to taking a hormone-type therapy,' says Hardin, who is single and a college administrator."
This quote alludes to a problem I imagine companies trying to sell male hormonal BC would run into. Contraception is viewed as a "woman's issue," and I believe a fair number of men would not consider using hormonal BC because of this. Some may also view it as emasculating, especially since many men said they will use it "only if their partners make them."

I am disappointed that a potentially game-changing technology was reported with such narrow-mindedness and misogyny.

-Emily R, NPA Volunteer

For more information about male birth control pill visit the Discovery Health website.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Uncyclopedia, this is unacceptable

"It's not rape if you yell surprise."

Ever heard this phrase? I have. Back in high school, I had classmates who would chant it as a joke. Today during a discussion, this phrase came up, and when I came home, I decided to Google the phrase and see just how far its scope reached. What I found, shocked me. 

The first result was a link to Uncyclopedia, which seems to be some sort of parody of Wikipedia. The Uncyclopedia article was entitled "Rape," and it is probably one of the most disgusting things I have ever read. Documented below are just a few offensive portions of this article - however, it does not even begin to encompass the disturbing nature of this page:

The second paragraph: "Rape is a necessary part of human interaction. When a woman does not do her daily chores, or smiles at a man, or goes out in public, or breathes, or wakes up in the morning, she is asking for it. Women need rape to stay healthy and happy."

A section entitled "How to commit rape," complete with a five-step process.

A section entitled "Asking for it."

A section entitled "What To Do if You Have Been Raped," with this quote: "Most importantly, DO NOT inform the police for at least two weeks. Taking a short time to come to terms with your trauma and well-deserved sense of shame and self-disgust will help them to dismiss your case. Coming forward immediately may make them believe the kind of cock and bull story sluts like you are always coming up with, and could land your rapist in trouble."

Listed below is the link to the actual page: read at your own risk.

In a nutshell, I am positively disgusted. I don't care if this was intended as a joke. I sure as hell am not laughing. This page is, for starters, victim blaming, homophobic, sexist, racist, and in completely bad taste. By reducing the act of rape to a joke, this page is not only contributing dangerously to our current rape culture, but making an already severe problem worse. Has anyone considered that some people may be reading this page and taking it literally? There is a five-step process TO RAPE SOMEONE on this page! It is NEVER okay to mock, degrade, objectify, or encourage rape. NEVER.



Monday, February 7, 2011

SAPAC Presents "Men Ending Rape: Why U-Matter" with Dr. Keith Edwards

Thursday, February 10th
Pendleton Room, Michigan Union

SAPAC's Men's Activism Program (MAP) is proud to present a talk with Dr. Keith Edwards, Director of Campus Life at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Keith is a nationally renowned speaker on the issue of men’s involvement in ending sexual violence.  Over the past eleven years, Keith has spoken at over fifty college campuses, presented over sixty programs at national conferences, and has published fifteen articles on the topic of men in the movement to end sexual violence.  He earned a Masters of Science in Student Affairs in Higher Education from Colorado State University and a PhD in College Student Personnel Administration from the University of Maryland, where his dissertation, “Putting my man face on": A grounded theory of college men's gender identity development, was awarded Dissertation of the Year by ACPA – College Student Educators International for 2007.  Keith serves as the Director for Campus Life at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and continues research and writing on the topics of sustainability in higher education, focusing on the integration of healthy environments, and social justice, as well as college men's issues from a feminist and social justice perspective.

Dr. Edwards' lecture will focus on men's role in ending sexual violence on college campuses and how they can become active members of the movement to end violence against women.

This event is co-sponsored by the University of Michigan Department of Psychology, Department of Anthropology, the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, the Center for the Education of Women, the Institute for Research on Women and Gender, Counseling and Psychological Services, University Health Services, PULSE, Mesa/Trotter, and the Ginsberg Center.

This event is free and open to the public.