Not Just Standing By

Guest blogger Will Douthit, USC graduate and STSM supporter, writes about why sexual violence is a men’s issue.

Anyone who follows stories on the topic of sexual assault has probably seen the article about the University of Arizona student who stood on campus with a sign reading, “You Deserve Rape.”

The sign – like all victim-blaming – is obviously abhorrent. The incident also received national media attention. What you may have missed, however, is this PSA from the same university featuring a group of male students who care about ending sexual violence. Far outnumbering the single student preaching a terrible message, the young men in the video represent a hopeful future on American college campuses.

What I like best about this PSA is that it was made by and for boys and men. It is a commonly held belief that sexual violence prevention is a women’s issue and that it is incumbent on a woman to reduce her risk by dressing more conservatively, by not travelling alone, by carrying a weapon, and so on.

But one of the people who encouraged me to become a Victim Advocate also taught me that women should be able to walk down the street completely naked without fear of being assaulted. There is never a scenario where the phrase “She was asking for it” should apply unless she, quite literally, was asking for it (because let’s remember, consent is sexy).

I want to change my society, in which men view sexual assault as if it isn’t their problem, and bystanders fail to stand up or intervene to stop violence. Perhaps if enough men see the positive messages in this PSA and in other examples of men who speak out about eliminating violence, they will finally see that sexual assault is our issue, too, and the responsibility for stopping it is everyone’s. I hope, as a man, my message resonates. We can only end sexual violence if we work together.

Will Douthit graduated from USC with a Bachelor's degree in Psychology and Master's degree in Social Work, and he is a strong supporter of STSM's work. He is currently a Victim Advocate at the Fifth Circuit Solicitor's Office in Richland County.