Overcoming Rape: Men, we need your help

Gentle readers: it has come to my attention during the course of this project that many men also are victimized by rapists, and that this call to action includes their protection, too. I agree! Thank you to all of the courageous brothers who brought this up with me, and please know that this speaks for your rights and protection as well.

One of the saddest things I have noticed when it comes to fighting rape and rape culture is that aware men do not always feel they have a place in the discussion. I have noticed many times that women, so tired of fighting this seemingly eternal battle, so hurt and angry, will lash out at any man who raises his voice, even a voice of support, in this discussion. I have seen how many women, wounded, tired, and angry, will make sweeping generalizations such as, "All men are the same, only after one thing," or "Well, what do you expect? That's just how men are." I have even known one prominent figure in our community to go so far as to assert that "All men are rapists."

While I completely, deeply, and personally understand the hurt, angry, wounded, frustrated feelings of my sisters around this topic, I also know that there are a decent number of men out there who actively think that rape is wrong, who actively think women deserve to make our own decisions about our bodies, but who do not always know where they can voice that opinion without becoming a target or without stepping on women's toes. The truly aware man knows that he does not want to take away a woman's voice or "overspeak" a woman in such an important topic, and occasionally he will then keep quiet, thinking that is the most respectful thing to do. Other times, he might speak up, only to then be mocked, dismissed, or castigated by women and other men. Public response to one's thoughts and opinions is very vulnerable-making, yet publicly stating truth is so important. What is the aware man to do? Build forces for good, that is what.

Men (and I mean all who identify with the masculine here), I invite you to do something simple that will make a world of difference in this debate. It is easy, it is a good start, and it will make a powerful statement.

Get dressed in whatever makes you look and feel good (but no nudity for obvious reasons. This is not that kind of affair.)

Take a marker or pen and make a sign that says, "I stand against rape, in person and at the polls."

Get someone to take your picture holding this sign.

Post it somewhere public, like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google +, your blog, or wherever you want. And, if you post it somewhere, please tag me "YesheRabbit Matthews" on FB, @yesherabbit on Twitter, or email it to me yesherabbit@gmail.com and I will post it for you.

In short, make a VISIBLE SHOWING of your stance against rape. This is even more important if you are a VISIBLE PUBLIC FIGURE in your own way, but we actually need everyone, even the shy ones, to help with this. It is obvious that in a patriarchal culture where women still only make 77 cents on the dollar, still have to fight for our rights to be seen as, well, people, and still are having to hold the line against the invasion of our bodies by the government, that we need men to speak up about this in a BIG way alongside us in order to turn the tide.

I know, for certain, that the more men who do this, the more powerful this statement will become. And I think it might be a good way for you to begin to enter into the rape discussion in a manner that lets everyone know from the get-go that you are an aware man and an ally, and not to assume about you, not to attack you, not to mock you or castigate you.

Think of it: how awesome and badass will you feel when thousands of women think of you as awesome and badass for having taken such a powerful public stance? It doesn't even matter if you aren't really into women - getting dates is not the point of this exercise. It's just kind of wonderful for anyone to be thought highly of by a whole lot of women at once, in any case. It feels great to be admired for being aware! You will no longer be lumped in with the Neanderthals who rape. You will be an Aware Man! A Hero! A Star!

Next step: live that truth. Speak up about rape. Take risks and say things out loud. Make sure you vote for those who respect the rights of women. Don't worry about the economy so much: as the majority labor force in this country, and the majority in colleges and universities at this time, women will be able to figure things out with the economy once we are able to stop wasting our time on, you know, worrying about being raped or forced to have children who are products of rape. It is amazing how resourceful and smart we are about things like money, medicine, and astrophysics when we don't have to trouble our pretty little heads about this other crap.

Last step: let women know you support us. When we post about our righteous outrage over our bodies being held hostage by the Religious Right, make sure to "Like" our outrage. "Share" our outrage. Live it alongside us. Make sure to comment with things like, "I am SO GLAD that I am not one of these guys! They are total assholes! How are you holding up, sisters? Need any help?" We will love that, on the whole, as long as you are respectful. (This also applies to other stuff: asking us if we need help doing the things that seem to always get left to us for no good reason RARELY goes amiss and will totally earn you points as "one of the good guys.")

Are you a "good guy?" Are you a hero? Who are my brothers? Who are my friends? Who is willing to speak up and make it plain, publicly, that rape culture will no longer be tolerated by men as well as women? Start by posting that picture and put yourself out there for me and for my sisters. I guarantee that when it is your turn to ask for help, we will be there with all of our brilliance, imagination, love, and creativity to help you, too.