What’s so bad about teaching men not to rape?

In a series of tweets last week, I mentioned that I’ve never understood the resistance to “teach men not to rape” campaigns. Regardless of one’s views on sexual assault, rape culture, victim blaming, feminism or any number of issues, I’d at least like to think that most people would recognize that teaching young men not to rape is a really good idea.

It’s true that some decent but defensive men are offended by the notion that they, as individuals, have to be taught not to rape women. These men know how to treat women with respect, and they’re insulted by the suggestion that they don’t. I get that.

But if you’re one of these men, then the reason nobody needs to teach you not to rape women is because somebody already did. You’re proof that teaching men not to rape works.

Good for you! You’re one of the good ones. Now get out there and do your part by passing that lesson on to other men.



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2 Responses to “What’s so bad about teaching men not to rape?”

  1. chris says:

    I’ll take a stab at it in the vein of friendly debate and the exchange of ideas. I think a lot of male backlash against feminist slogans stems from the Brownmiller quote defining rape as:

    “a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear.”

    In particular, it’s the use of the word “all.” You, Matt Blair, are consciously using rape to keep all women in fear. It states that the natural state of Matt Blair is that of a rapist. How does that make you feel? Do you want to engage in the discussion or do you want to turn your back and walk away from that attack?

    It’s that the aggressive language paints men as naturally evil. They feel attacked and when attacked, people disengage at best, and at worst, attack back.

    Now that’s a load of crap. There’s a difference between “Teaching men not to rape” and “Not teaching men to rape” Rape is a learned behaviour. We teach it from early on in life, when we routinely disregard consent with our friends and families in front of our children. We do it when we pile more potatoes on someones plate even though they said “That’s enough” We do it when we sneakily fill someone’s wine glass when their head is turned. We do this in front of our kids every day. Men and Women.

    Now there’s a whole lot more to the power dynamic than that, but it all starts when we teach our children the consent is optional at the dinner table. And this starts well before there’s any sexual interest.

    We don’t need to teach men not to rape per se. We need to raise them in a culture of consent from the very beginning. The end result is the same, and the language is inclusive, rather than exclusive.

    To that end, I suggest you go here: http://igg.me/at/creating-consent-culture-teacher-tools

    (Note: I make no supposition that the person behind this worthwhile project would agree with what I wrote. She might, she might not.)

  2. Matt says:

    Thanks, Chris! Lots of food for thought here. I’ll be sure to check out the link, and I hope everyone else reading this (which hopefully includes nobody who found the page by Googling “Matt Blair rapist”) will do the same.

    I get those resentments, sure. There’s some exclusionary thinking in the fringes of feminist thought that I don’t agree with for those reasons, just as there’s a wealth of ugliness among the men’s rights crowd and similar backlash movements.

    One would like to think that neither side of the debate would be judged by its worst representatives, and I think the sort of sharing you’ve done here goes a long way toward preventing that. So again, thanks!