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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Needed: Active Male Bystanders

The web can be a wonderful resource to get a read on how our society views a variety of issues. Recently, while searching YouTube for PSAs on sexual violence I came across this video of a man reflecting on his personal experience of witnessing a friend at a party in the process of an attempted rape and how he responded. I recommend watching it even though it is a bit long and drawn out.

Whether this guy's story is true or not matters little to me in comparison to what this video does for men as it calls into question our responsibility towards victims in situations even when a friend is a perpetrator. This man might not think of his friend in those terms -- even though he does call "the girl" a victim -- but, regardless, he intervened because he felt he needed to.

I do not advocate violence but I am happy to hear some men feel this strongly about sexual violence and choose to involve themselves as an active bystander rather than remain silent for "his boy". Silence is NOT golden in these situations. If you read the comment section on YouTube following the video, there are several survivors reporting they wished a man like him was actively present when they were victims of rape. Our world needs more men that are willing to take responsibility and intervene with the sexism, harassment, or sexual violence of their peers.

What do you think? If you are a guy, put yourself in his shoes at that party and consider how you would respond? How will you respond the next time you hear or witness friends making sexist remarks about others, behaving disrespectfully or attempting to take advantage of someone under the influence?

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