Can Men Be Taught Not to Rape?

Zerlina Maxwell said men can prevent rape and was, predictably, inundated with abuse.

If you want to know why we need to educate men not to be sexually aggressive, look no further than what happened when Zerlina Maxwell went on television to say that we need to educate men how not to be sexually aggressive.

Maxwell was on Fox’s “Hannity” this week to discuss guns, rape and college students.

... where she drew outrage was in her suggestion to Hannity that “I don’t think that we should be telling women anything. I think we should be telling men not to rape women and start the conversation there.” She told Hannity, “You’re talking about this as if it’s some faceless, nameless criminal, when a lot of times it’s someone you know and trust,” adding, “If you train men not to grow up to become rapists, you prevent rape.”

The mere notion that maybe men need to be involved in the conversation about sexual violence earned Maxwell instant disdain, anger – and a lot worse.

Maxwell says. “I didn’t think I would receive rape threats. I can’t even go on my Facebook page; it’s full of people wanting to rape me. ...

“Telling every woman to get a gun is not rape prevention,” she explains. “The reality is that we need to be changing how we train and teach young men. We need to teach them to see women as human beings and respect their bodily autonomy. We need to teach them about consent and to hold themselves accountable.” And when we do, things change. After Canada launched a  “Don’t be that guy” consent awareness campaign in 2011, the sexual assault rate dropped for the first time in years — by 10 percent. [emphasis mine]

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Replies to This Discussion

Teach men not to rape and there will be less rape.  Ye gods and little fishes!  Could you get any simpler without becoming simplistic?

The truly scary part is the reaction to Ms. Maxwell's proposal ... as though men had a natural right to rape or something... [sigh]

That is truly disgusting.  She is completely right of course.

The part of the article about how most rapists are average guys, not someone in a ski mask in an alley, really resonated with me. I am in what is widely regarded as a very male-oriented job and have very few female colleagues - I would say 90% of the men I work with are incredibly lovely, respectful and intelligent guys.  However - the way the other 10% talk about women, shocks me.  They see us as objects, existing purely for men's satisfaction, make incredibly rude and hurtful comments about women's bodies.  Upon me making it clear to one of these men that I didn't want to sleep with him, he began spreading rumours about my sex life and emotionally intimidating me.  I'm a strong woman and it didn't really bother me, but the very fact that men think women are somehow "privileged" to be able to sleep with them, is disgusting. I believe that just by working with me, appreciating that I am just as intelligent as they are, have just as good a career as they do, etc. is the key.  Education is the key.

The other images in Vancouver's "Don't be that guy" campaign are similarly blunt and strong.

(Click to embiggen.)


I think the lessons for men need to come from other men both their fathers and male groups, and from women. I applaud the educational effect of the Red Brigade Women hit back at India's rape culture.

From a core membership of 15, ranging in age from 11 to 25, they now have more than 100 members, intelligent and sassy and with a simple message for the men who have made their lives a misery: they will no longer tolerate being groped, gawped at and worse. Their activities are a lesson in empowerment.

Men who fall foul of the Red Brigade can first expect a visit and a warning. Sometimes the Red Brigade will ask the police to get involved, but if all else fails they take matters into their own hands.

I can't believe the people who think "teach not to rape" is a stupid/terrible thing, and from what I've seen, this is what men's rights activists are singularly obsessed with. Does it hurt anyone to teach against rape? Is total silence somehow appropriate? I don't see anyone ridiculing all the "don't commit insurance fraud" and "don't drink and drive" public service ads, or even ads against child abuse. Of course people are shaped by societal messages. In places where men are taught they are uncontrollable or they're entitled to sex, they live down to their expectations.




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