Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I suppose that some progress is better than no progress...

Two new posters from Indiana State University's Health Promotion Office. Click to enlarge.

The two posters you see above have been making rounds for the last few weeks. Let me take a moment to describe them (in case you can't see them).

The first poster on the left is of a man and woman in bed with the following quote representing what the guy is saying/thinking, "When she changed her mind...I stopped."

The second poster on the right is of a man and woman sitting on a couch and the woman is leaning on the left shoulder of the guy with the following quote representing what the woman is saying/thinking, "When he said 'I'm not in the mood'...I understood."

No bones about it these are good messages and I hope they get shared around (which is part of why I'm doing this post). Consent is something that everyone has the right to give and rescind as they see fit. Let's say it again. Everyone has the right to decide what to do with their own body when it comes to sex.

I followed the link at the bottom of each picture (http://www.indstate.edu/svp if you can't read it) to take more of a look at the program.

Their "What is sexual assault?", Dating Violence, and Consent sections are refreshingly gender neutral. Yes these folks define assault and violence in a way that doesn't basically scream, "It's something men do to women" and maintain that consent from both men and women is vital. These are very good things.

However while I'll be the first to say that there is currently no such thing as too much awareness of sexual assault and abuse I have to say that even with that left poster and the good things I just mentioned I think these folks may still be coming up a bit short when it comes to talking about male victims.

I went to the Just For Men section and I was fully expecting that most of the material was going to presume that men are offenders and mention male victims in passing.


The first third of the page is purely "Guys need to respect women.". The third third of the page is "What can men do about violence against women.". The middle of the section offers some glimmer of hope in that it actually mentions male victims. But even then it's pretty limited and is still immediately disclaimed with the usual, "But men still do it more!". One interesting part is this question and how it's answered.:
Can a woman sexually assault a man?

Yes, but it's not nearly as common as male-on-male assault. A recent study shows that more than 86% of male survivors are sexually abused by another male. That is not to say, however, that we should overlook boys or men who are victimized by females. It may be tempting to dismiss such experiences as wanted sexual initiation (especially in the case of an older female assaulting a younger male), but the reality is that the impact of female-on-male assault can be just as damaging.
Even in the small bit of space that brings up women that assault men they still cannot do so without immediately quantifying it so that we know it doesn't happen to often. But I suppose since we are talking about male victims they are supposed to be happy with whatever crumbs they are given right? Men are only worth a brief mention that must be surrounded by reassurance that men are still the problem.

Don't get me wrong. It's a good program based on the very fact that they are addressing a very real problem that needs to be solved. However when it comes to male victims I really wonder if the goal is to do just enough to get rid of the critics or do they actually care.