President Obama Models Men’s Leadership in Halting Sexual Assault

By Jackson Katz, Ph.D.
Huffington Post
January 28, 2014

Activists and advocates who have been working for decades to change the attitudes and beliefs that sustain epidemic levels of sexual violence achieved a significant milestone last week. Finally, a president of the United States — The Most Powerful Man in the World — used the power of his office to shine a light on the critical role of men in preventing violence against women.

President Obama, in a White House event at which he announced the formation of a special White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault, went further than he — or any other American president — has ever done in terms of getting to the heart of the cultural change necessary for prevention efforts to succeed. Going beyond the tired, cookie-cutter statements that politicians typically make about this issue, like “everyone needs to work together to support victims and end this scourge,” the president said:

“We’ve got to keep teaching young men in particular to show women the respect they deserve and to recognize sexual violence and be outraged by it, and to do their part to stop it from happening in the first place. During our discussion earlier today, we talked about (how) I want every young man in America to feel some strong peer pressure in terms of how they are supposed to behave and treat women. And that starts before they get to college.”

The president continued by making it clear that adult men — especially fathers — have an indispensable role to play:

“So those of us who are fathers have an obligation to transmit that information. But we can do more to make sure that every young man out there — whether they’re in junior high or high school or college or beyond — understands what’s expected of them and what it means to be a man, and to intervene if they see somebody else acting inappropriately.”

The president’s direct, gender-specific language about men’s leadership on this issue is both refreshing and affirming, especially for those who understand that preventing sexual violence requires nothing less than a transformation in our cultural beliefs about manhood. Women working in the field of sexual assault prevention have been saying for years that challenging men’s sexist attitudes and beliefs — across the socioeconomic, racial, ethnic and religious spectrum — is central to combating gender violence.

In so doing, they have often been accused by small-minded and defensive men of being male-bashing “feminizes.” Now that the (male) commander-in-chief has framed rape prevention as a men’s issue, the pressure to prevent crimes of sexual violence might now move more squarely onto the shoulders of men and boys, where it rightly belongs.

The president’s comments are also energizing and inspiring for the growing number of men, on college campuses and in communities, who are partnering with women to develop sexual assault prevention initiatives that actively engage men. Of course both women and men are the victims of sexual violence; most programs today acknowledge and address the special needs of male victims. Nonetheless it is important to be clear in the design and implementation of prevention strategies that regardless of the sex of the victim, sexual violence is perpetrated overwhelmingly by men.

On a personal note, it was gratifying to hear the president express his position in language that some of us in social justice-centered gender violence prevention work have been using for more than twenty years. When my colleagues and I created the Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) program, one of our central goals was to spark a conversation among men (and later, women) about sexual and domestic violence, which for too long had been seen as “women’s issues” that somehow didn’t directly involve men.

We called the pedagogical method we developed to encourage men’s engagement the “bystander approach.” By inviting men to be empowered bystanders rather than indicting them as potential rapists, we hoped to expand the number of men who saw these issues as their own. Ultimately, we hoped to help catalyze a larger change in the cultural definition of manhood away from one associated with power and control, and sexual entitlement to women’s bodies.

We believed we could change social norms in male culture by focusing on what men and young men could do and say to their friends, teammates, fraternity brothers, etc. that would make sexist abuse unacceptable — not only because it was illegal and might get them in trouble — but because it was wrong and the peer group itself did not accept it.

We encouraged young men (and old) to examine their own sexism, and challenged them to speak up when they saw others acting abusively or perpetuating damaging stereotypes about women, just as whites should interrupt the racism of other whites, or heterosexuals when they encounter heterosexism.

The MVP model was immediately adopted by college and professional sports teams, and spread quickly to general populations of male and female students in high schools and colleges. Later, influential institutions like the U.S. military signed on. The first MVP training in the military was held in the Marine Corps in 1997; those trainings continue and are expanding today — in one form or another — in every branch of the U.S. Armed Services.

In the early 1990s, MVP was the only so-called bystander program. But in recent years a number of other “bystander intervention” programs have arisen that, unfortunately, de-emphasize the social justice-oriented, MVP-style approach in favor of gender-neutral, more narrowly-focused skills training. To be sure, intervention skills are important; we teach them in MVP. But in gender violence prevention work with men, what is far more important is to give men the sense that speaking out about sexist abuse is an act of integrity and strength, and not evidence that you’ve “gone soft” or taken women’s side in the supposed “battle between the sexes.”

More than any specific intervention techniques, what men of all ages need is a kind of social permission to act on their best instincts and not remain silent in the face of both subtle and overt forms of abuse. President Obama seemed to know this — almost as if he’d been through an MVP training — when he said:

“We’re going to need to encourage young people, men and women, to realize that sexual assault is simply unacceptable. And they’re going to have to summon the bravery to stand up and say so, especially when the social pressure to keep quiet or to go along can be very intense.”

When powerful men like the president of the United States make clear, unequivocal statements like this, it makes it easier — for men especially — to derive the strength necessary to do likewise.

545 thoughts on “President Obama Models Men’s Leadership in Halting Sexual Assault”

  1. Pingback: otc cialis
  2. Pingback: Usa viagra sales
  3. Pingback: viagra.com
  4. Pingback: cost of cialis
  5. Pingback: viagra suppliers
  6. Pingback: chloroquine drug
  7. Pingback: viagra for sale
  8. Pingback: viagra 100mg
  9. Pingback: ed drugs
  10. Pingback: canada pharmacy
  11. Pingback: walmart pharmacy
  12. Pingback: Get cialis
  13. Pingback: cialis visa
  14. Pingback: levitra canada
  15. Pingback: levitra cost
  16. Pingback: cheap vardenafil
  17. Pingback: online casino usa
  18. Pingback: online casinos
  19. Pingback: personal loan
  20. Pingback: viagra cost
  21. Pingback: 5 mg cialis
  22. Pingback: cialis 20
  23. Pingback: cialis 5 mg
  24. Pingback: generic cialis
  25. Pingback: viagra pill
  26. Pingback: chumba casino
  27. Pingback: casino real money
  28. Pingback: otc viagra
  29. Pingback: viagra cost
  30. Pingback: when to buy viagra
  31. Pingback: viagra online usa
  32. Pingback: cialis tadalafil
  33. Pingback: viagra alternative
  34. Pingback: viagra canada
  35. Pingback: viagra generic
  36. Pingback: viagra samples
  37. Pingback: http://droga5.net/
  38. Pingback: cialistodo.com
  39. Pingback: viagra
  40. Pingback: buy generic cialis
  41. Pingback: cialiss
  42. Pingback: buy viagra
  43. Pingback: Cialis 80mg price
  44. Pingback: viagra online
  45. Pingback: cheap cialis
  46. Pingback: viagra cheap
  47. Pingback: Cialis 20mg online
  48. Pingback: viagra prices
  49. Pingback: generic viagra
  50. Pingback: sildenafil 100 mg
  51. Pingback: order cardizem
  52. Pingback: red viagra
  53. Pingback: cialis online
  54. Pingback: generic cialis
  55. Pingback: celexa 10mg otc
  56. Pingback: cipro uk
  57. Pingback: casino slot
  58. Pingback: buy viagra generic
  59. Pingback: tadalafil 20 mg
  60. Pingback: casino real money
  61. Pingback: casino real money
  62. Pingback: casino gambling
  63. Pingback: doubleu casino
  64. Pingback: casino
  65. Pingback: how to get viagra
  66. Pingback: cialis for sale
  67. Pingback: cialis miami
  68. Pingback: gap insurance
  69. Pingback: buy cialis usa
  70. Pingback: go car insurance
  71. Pingback: payday loans utah
  72. Pingback: cialis order
  73. Pingback: cash advance
  74. Pingback: ebay viagra
  75. Pingback: paper writer
  76. Pingback: buy papers online
  77. Pingback: assignment helper
  78. Pingback: buy cheap essays
  79. Pingback: cleocin pills
  80. Pingback: buy viagra india
  81. Pingback: clozaril prices
  82. Pingback: colchicine cheap
  83. Pingback: levitra cialis
  84. Pingback: coreg purchase
  85. Pingback: cialis online
  86. Pingback: compazine cheap
  87. Pingback: cozaar tablets
  88. Pingback: cheap viagra
  89. Pingback: buy dapsone caps
  90. Pingback: depakote for sale
  91. Pingback: elavil nz
  92. Pingback: generic Nolvadex
  93. Pingback: etodolac 400mg usa
  94. Pingback: geodon 80mg coupon
  95. Pingback: cialis for women
  96. Pingback: cheap tadalafil
  97. Pingback: daily cialis
  98. Pingback: imdur otc
  99. Pingback: cheap cialis
  100. Pingback: imodium 2mg otc
  101. Pingback: how viagra works
  102. Pingback: lamisil coupon
  103. Pingback: levaquin cost
  104. Pingback: lopid 300 mg pills
  105. Pingback: luvox price
  106. Pingback: cialis canada
  107. Pingback: navarro pharmacy
  108. Pingback: buy micardis 20 mg
  109. Pingback: buy Valtrex online
  110. Pingback: canadapharmacy
  111. Pingback: canadian pharmacy
  112. Pingback: phenergan nz
  113. Pingback: canada drugs
  114. Pingback: plaquenil online
  115. Pingback: buy prilosec
  116. Pingback: proscar cost
  117. Pingback: protonix nz
  118. Pingback: cheap viagra
  119. Pingback: how to buy remeron
  120. Pingback: benadryl 25 mg
  121. Pingback: revatio tablet
  122. Pingback: rogaine cheap
  123. Pingback: singulair tablet
  124. Pingback: skelaxin prices
  125. Pingback: vantin 200mg uk
  126. Pingback: zanaflex otc
  127. Pingback: zithromax coupon
  128. Pingback: zovirax for sale
  129. Pingback: generic viagra gel
  130. Pingback: sildenafil online
  131. Pingback: escitalopram uk
  132. Pingback: pioglitazone usa
  133. Pingback: generic ed pills
  134. Pingback: cheap fexofenadine
  135. Pingback: cheap glimepiride
  136. Pingback: meclizine tablet
  137. Pingback: anastrozole nz
  138. Pingback: sildenafil
  139. Pingback: dutasteride pills
  140. Pingback: clonidinemg uk
  141. Pingback: cialis canada
  142. Pingback: loratadine cost
  143. Pingback: cheap cialis
  144. Pingback: clozapine online
  145. Pingback: cialis20mg
  146. Pingback: viagra
  147. Pingback: cialis in europe
  148. Pingback: phenytoin coupon
  149. Pingback: oxybutynin tablet
  150. Pingback: viagra
  151. Pingback: permethrin 30g nz
  152. Pingback: 141generic2Exare
  153. Pingback: tadalafil
  154. Pingback: excewlsm
  155. Pingback: estradiol nz
  156. Pingback: ed pills that work
  157. Pingback: xbqnqozt
  158. Pingback: medication for ed
  159. Pingback: alendronate cheap
  160. Pingback: lasix online
  161. Pingback: order sumycin
  162. Pingback: isosorbide cheap
  163. Pingback: cialis spain
  164. Pingback: generic for cialis
  165. Pingback: viagra 50mg
  166. Pingback: cialis 5mg tablet
  167. Pingback: cialis coupon code
  168. Pingback: furosemide coupon
  169. Pingback: generic stromectol
  170. Pingback: cost of viagra
  171. Pingback: gemfibrozil coupon
  172. Pingback: metoprolol canada
  173. Pingback: viagra amazon
  174. Pingback: prednisolone use
  175. Pingback: dosing synthroid
  176. Pingback: ed pills online
  177. Pingback: doctoral thesis
  178. Pingback: zithromax buy
  179. Pingback: propecia beard
  180. Pingback: magic essay writer
  181. Pingback: buy clomid
  182. Pingback: metformin 1 tablet
  183. Pingback: finasteride 5 mg
  184. Pingback: buying levitra uk
  185. Pingback: ed pills gnc
  186. Pingback: erection pills
  187. Pingback: Zakhar Berkut
  188. Pingback: 4569987
  189. Pingback: cialis mastercard
  190. Pingback: buy ebay
  191. Pingback: news news news
  192. Pingback: psy
  193. Pingback: psy2022
  194. Pingback: projectio-freid
  195. Pingback: viagra vs cialis
  196. Pingback: kam skirta viagra
  197. Pingback: kinoteatrzarya.ru

Comments are closed.