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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

How Many Politicians Does It Take to Prevent a Sexual Indiscretion?

Thanks to Patrick for letting us cross-post this on our Blog. Please check out more of his work at

By Patrick McGann
Director of Strategy & Planning

I finished writing Part 5 of “How I Came to Work at Men Can Stop Rape” yesterday (the part where I actually finally end up at MCSR) but then this morning read the Washington Post and learned that Rep. David Wu (D-OR) is accused of having “aggressive and unwanted” sex with a teenage daughter of a friend. My reaction, said out loud at the kitchen table: “What is wrong with these guys?” It wasn’t directed at Abby, my wife, as much as it was an expression of exasperation. So, I’m delaying posting Part 5 for addressing political scandal.

Part of me still expects, I suppose, high standards of behavior from our public representatives. Idealistically, I assume they understand their need to uphold and represent our democratic principles, and that “sexual indiscretions” (media language) are not in line with those principles. In a more practical sense, surely they have already seen enough politicians fall from grace so that they are aware of the potential consequences to their own careers? When I went to Texas Tech we told Texas A & M jokes about how many Aggies it takes to screw in a light bulb. Although I can’t quite wrap my head around it right now, I’m thinking there’s a similar joke about how many politicians it takes to stop a sexual indiscretion.

Of course I know why these male politicians keep acting in inappropriate ways. Isn’t traditional masculinity the root cause for so many things we men do? And doesn’t it need a light shined on it in the hallways of our government buildings? It has been invisible for too long in our Capitol, I say! Not only do politicians suffer the consequences when one of their own creates a “Guys Gone Stupid” video, we as citizens lose any sense that the people in charge of our country are credible, responsible, and respectable adults.

Our politicians need help! They can’t prevent these indiscretions on their own or they would have already done so. I challenge them to bring in the masculinity and gender-based violence prevention experts.

Politicians, I beg you: ask not what masculinity can do for you, but what you can do to change masculinity.

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Patrick McGann, Ph.D. has been involved with Men Can Stop Rape (MCSR) since the organization’s inception in 1997. As Director of Strategy and Planning, Patrick co-authored a sexual assault prevention strategy for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) in 2008 and oversaw the development of the HURTS ONE. AFFECTS ALL. public education campaign for DoD in 2010. He regularly gives presentations across the country on engaging men in the prevention of gender-based violence.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A year ago I questioned whether or not I could support sports anymore as a fan due to the overwhelming number of sexual assaults, DV, and other criminal activities college and professional athletes were committing. In took some intervention by friends and coaches to remind me that sports, for the most part, plays a positive role in socialization for many youth across the country. And that these issues in sports is a symptom of greater issue in American culture.

Politics, as McGann points out, is not immune to these same issues and/or symptoms. Its important to be mindful that incidents like these in sports, politics, music, and/or entertainment cultures, as they are all subcultures to greater society, point to our (American culture) problem of men's violence against women (and other men).Be it Wu or Roethlisberger the common denominator is 'men behaving badly' and apparently these men are acting with the mindset that they are entitled to be like this.

Men everywhere need to take on the charge "ask not what masculinity can do for you, but what you can do for masculinity"!