Monday, March 27, 2006

Men Can Stop Rape Commentary

Aunt B posted today about the Men Can Stop Rape campaign, which is intended to give men tools to reduce rape, and mentioned that she and another woman were not sure what to think about it. The MCSR homepage states that they "build young men's capacity to challenge harmful aspects of traditional masculinity, to value alternative visions of male strength, and to embrace their vital role as allies with women and girls in fostering healthy relationships and gender equity." Based on their posters, the program seems to be about challenging rape myths in a certain segment of the population, college-aged men. The campaign's images are clearly not targeted at the kind of violent serial rapist we see on shows like Law & Order. These posters are about men with unclear boundaries, young men who might be inclined to keep pushing a reluctant woman, or have sex with a girl who is intoxicated; they're designed to remind men that rape doesn't have to be brutal and take place on a dark street, but can take place when you step over certain lines, in your own bedroom, with a woman you know.

Are these materials, and this type of campaign, effective? I poked around in PubMed and PsycInfo for articles on rape prevention campaigns targeted at men, and found a few pieces that looked at programs such as MCSR. One study1 compared fraternity men in a control group or a rape prevention program, and found "Although no evidence of change in sexually coercive behavior was found, significant 7-month declines in rape myth acceptance and the likelihood of committing rape were shown among program participants. In the case of rape myth acceptance, the 7-month decrement remained lower in the participant group than in the control group." Another study looked at the effect of a rape prevention video on sexually coercive and non-coercive men, and found "For the noncoercives, the anti-rape video resulted in lower rape-myth acceptance and sex-related alcohol expectancy scores than the control video. Coercives--who presumably most need to be deterred--exhibited no such effects."2 Another study noted that numerous men who participated in an anti-rape training session commented that the program was beneficial in helping them understand how to avoid rape charges by gaining explicit consent for sex.3 There are other studies out there, some which found that attitude changes in men immediately post-training disappeared over time, and some that looked at how "hypermasculinity" and certain notions of gender reduced the training's effectiveness, for example. It would take some time to review all of these, but I wanted to get a general idea of what the literature was saying.

So where does this leave us? The evidence suggests that some men can have improved attitudes that would reduce their likelihood of committing rape for some period of time following the sessions. Does it work for all men? Is it a perfect method? No. However, I'm inclined to think that if this type of program provides some window in which men's attitudes toward sexual consent improve, then the program may make some difference. Perhaps it's not a long-term difference, but rape is not typically a long-term event. As a result, while this may not be my favorite solution, I think it's one that may make a difference for some men, and as a result, some potential victims of rape.

1) Foubert JD. The longitudinal effect of a rape-prevention program on fraternity men's attitudes, behavioral intent, and behavior. J Am Coll Health. 2000 Jan; 48(4):158-63.
2) Stephens KA, George WH. Effects of anti-rape video content on sexually coercive and noncoercive college men's attitudes and alcohol expectancies. J Appl Soc Psych. 2004 Feb; 34(2):402-16.
3) Choate LH. Sexual assault prevention programs for college men: an exploratory evaluation of the men against violence model. J Coll Couns. 2003; 6(2):166-76.

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MeSH Tags: Rape/prevention and control


Blogger Exador said...

Another study noted that numerous men who participated in an anti-rape training session commented that the program was beneficial in helping them understand how to avoid rape charges by gaining explicit consent for sex.

Scare the hell out of them, and they won't take the chance.
I can hear them now,
"I can charged for that?!"

3:23 PM  

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