Men Stopping Rape (MSR) was founded by ten men in the Madison community who were interested in finding answers to the question, "how do we create a world without rape?" Active since 1983, MSR is one of the nation’s oldest, most influential community-based groups of men, students and non-students, seeking ways to end masculine violence.
Historically, MSR began the process of finding their own answers by creating spaces where men can speak to men about male socialization. Though our overall mission is to provide information and outreach to the entire community, much of the work we do occurs in the context of "safe spaces" for smaller groups of men to talk about their issues. We talk about masculinity, homophobia, male socialization, racism, and violence. We take responsibility for our own behavior and model the process of unlearning sexism with other men. Sexual violence exists on a continuum. Both men and women are profoundly affected by the spectrum of violence and sexual assault, which is unavoidable in a culture which, in many gross and subtle ways, supports sexism, harassment, violence and sexual assault. Many men, perhaps even a majority, have done something that could qualify as a sexual assault, though most wouldn’t identify their behavior as such. Statistically, we all know alarming numbers of both women and men who are also survivors of incest and other sexual assaults. In identifying how rape also affects and hurts men, we validate men’s pain, reaching out to male survivors and men who are "significant others" of sexual assault survivors who are present in ever group we talk with. Beginning the process of understanding and changing our behavior, unlearning rape and rape-supportive behaviors is the most powerful work we do.
We have: distributed over sixty thousand copies of our brochure. "What One Man Can Do To Stop Rape," as well as thousands of sets of our Rape Myth Poster Series, facilitated workshops in community centers, college residence halls, fraternities, coops, churches, college classrooms, high schools, prisons, and other settings; produced two videotapes for local cable channels and national distribution; organized marches and rallies; conducted hundreds of "Consciousness Raising Discussions" on campus; participated in activities cosponsored by other community groups such as Rape Crisis Center, Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault, and the UW Campus Women’s Center; and helped support a national network of ending men’s violence groups. MSR also has facilitated: 1) a male survivors of incest or other sexual assault group, 2) a male ‘significant others’ of survivors support group, 3) an ex-perpetrators support group, 4) an emotional support group.
We bring a rape prevention message to men in a language that they speak, will listen to and understand. Through our work we have developed innovative and effective workshop methodologies which elicit a vary positive response. We provide information about the extent and urgency of the problem and seek to involve other men in a discussion of rape and other forms of male violence. MSR’s message to men is that sexual assault and an entire continuum of attitudes and behaviors supporting it are critical issues for men to address.
To help each man understand how his behaviors and attitudes contribute to the problem, we explore what we can do to help stop rape by examining the messages we received growing up as men, our relationships with women and men and our attitudes about rape. We find men actually eager to share their experiences growing up male, and we marvel at the universality of the behaviors we hear expressed in the lives of participants and presenters. There’s a palpable sense of relief as men unburden themselves of fears and doubts about their behavior and masculinity. As they explore their own lives, men come to understand how the gender-role stereotypes available to them growing up greatly exacerbate their normal adolescent confusion. Doubts about identity, self esteem and what it means to be a man create bars to intimacy with women and men and can lead men to adopt rape supportive behaviors or to rape. Changing our attitudes and actions can help end rape. The choice is ours to make.
Text © Men Stopping Rape, Inc.
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