THE RAPE SPECTRUM


Stop using pornography
Pornography and advertising use images of violence and subjugation to turn us on. They portray women (and children) in subordinate roles, as objects available to us and at our disposal, enjoying rape and abuse. When we buy pornography, we buy a limited perception of women as nothing more than bodies. The damage done by this male institution vastly outweighs any damage done by the handful of womenís sex magazines. Consider how images of rape and domination have shaped our attitudes about women and sexuality.
Men Stopping Rape is not against egalitarian depiction of nudity or sexual activity; we are against mainstream and hardcore material that presents only one gender, in unrealistic and dehumanizing ways. The assumptions pornography creates are degrading to all of us and destructive to maintaining equal relationships.

Stop pretending submission is consent
Men often assume that if a woman doesnít say "no" she means "yes." There are many situations in which women have submitted to menís demands when they did not truly consent. Women may feel pressure to submit because of the legitimate fear of physical violence, abandonment, withdrawal of monetary support, damage to reputations through malicious gossip, and social rejection. These fears can make submission seem like the only alternative. On the other hand, communication opens new possibilities for satisfying each person and is the only way mutual consent is ever confirmed. Consent requires understanding, respect and agreement between equal partners.

Stop telling sexist jokes
Many sexist jokes trivialize the hurt and pain women and some men suffer from male violence. Others perpetuate myths about rape and what women and men are really like, or reduce us to the functions of our genitals. Men who tell sexist jokes are usually trying to build themselves up at the expense of women; or with heterosexist jokes, at the expense of gay people. These jokes divide us into factions and stifle communication. When we laugh at these jokes, we laugh nervously, trying to fit in with "the boys." Such male bonding at the expense of women promotes rape. We donít need a laugh at that cost.

Stop fantasizing about rape
Sexual fantasies can provide us with a rich outlet for feelings and desires that we cannot always gratify in life. However, rape fantasy is rape in your head. When we construct rape fantasies, we write detailed scripts for every step of a sexual assault, although we often pretend it is a seduction. In fact, most actual rapes consist of the acting out of pre-planned rape fantasies. Such fantasies are dangerous, because they eroticize violence and encourage us to become excited by a womanís struggling against us. They blur the distinction between sex and sexual assault and numb us to the reality of rape.

Stop withdrawing emotionally
As men, we are taught to fear exposure of our feelings. We learn to deny them to ourselves and others. Our fear of vulnerability often leads us to take a position of dominance and control. In order to remain "strong," we deal with frustration and hurt by withdrawing emotionally and refusing to communicate, sometimes without realizing what we are doing. In the end, we never learn how to work out our feelings with others, and our attempts to maintain a position of "strength" only isolate us. We may try to force others to guess whatís wrong or to give in to what we want. If this doesnít work, we sulk, bluster, or even threaten violence. However, if we can trust that there is a reason for our feeling the way we do, we can learn to express our feelings directly and find non-assaultive ways of communicating.

Stop being violent
No disagreement requires a violent response. There are many alternatives: Talk it over. Think again. Develop and accept a compromise. Take "time out." Talk to someone else. Turn it over to a third party. Making threats and hitting people are power-plays that freeze our differences at the most dangerous level. Violence makes communication and fair resolution of conflict impossible.

Text © 1988 Men Stopping Rape, Inc.


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