We have often heard women saying, when talking about victim blaming and “rape prevention” pamphlets, that you should be teaching men not to rape rather than teaching women what to wear. Of course, to men who do not have any inclination to rape anybody, that kind of statement can come off as condescending. The idea is that obviously men know that they’re not supposed to rape women, but the ones that do are not following the rules, duh, it’s not like they are going to suddenly say “ooohhh! I didn’t know it was against the law! Shit my bad!” and suddenly stop being a monster.
While I get that knee-jerk reaction, it is also unfortunately a very simplistic reaction to what seems to be a simplistic proposal, but what is actually an important concept which is not given enough merit. But hey, don’t take my word for it, see this case study in Nairobi.
The highlights: in this community, where they have begun an active educational campaign about consent, rape was reduced by 50%, and bystanders successfully intervened and stopped assaults 75% of the time.
That’s amazing! Even I am shocked at what a giant impact this had is such a short period of time.
Of course, when people say “teach boys not to rape” they don’t mean wagging their fingers at young boys, tell them not to sexually assault their female peers, and then going back to their morning newspaper. It is much bigger than that.
This campaign is about tackling the problem on multiple fronts. It is about teaching girls about having self confidence, and self worth, and that they have agency over their bodies and their lives. It is about teaching boys different perspectives, and making them think about sex and sexual assault from a healthier angle. It is about reaching equality and mutual respect.
In short, it is about changing culture for the better. And it can work wonders.