Talking about rape culture with 13 year old boys

I have the privilege of working with youth on the regular and it feeds my soul. It really, truly does. It's my touchstone to the 'real world' and my reminder that this work is worth doing it.

With everything going on at the University of Ottawa right now, there have been lots of conversations about rape culture and engaging men. 

When a group of guys threaten a womyn with rape and their defense is "Hey, this is just guy talk! This is how dudes roll. You don't understand us", it's proof that maybe we understand you all too well, asshole. 

But besides my snarky knee jerk reaction, their defense breaks my heart. It breaks my heart because sadly, yeah, lots of dudes think that the best way to argue with a womyn is to resort to threatening her. But I truly believe that there are many more solid dudes than shitty ones. 

So, I put it out there to my Twitter followers: If I was trying to explain rape culture to your 13 year old self, what would have resonated with you? 

Here's just a snap shot of what some had to say:

Hum.. AMAZING. 

I also got an e-mail from a guy named Chris Vechsler who has done this work in the past. I'm just going to quote verbatim what he says when working with youth because I think it's really powerful

 There is no comparison for the emotional and physical violation of sexual violence. Boys don't experience that level of threat anywhere in society, but women do, and so, male responsibility is to do everything we can to create safe spaces for any women, whether we know them or not. Especially when we don't. We, as men, need to be aware that society is unfair, but we can change that by listening, by understanding and by acting in ways that make others feel safe. Our right to safety is paid for by our responsibility to make sure others feel safe as well, and until everyone's safe, we haven't paid our debt.

And people wonder why I have the energy to do what I do! Look at all these amazing insights from men of various ages, backgrounds and experiences. 

Waiting until men are in university to talk about "rape culture" is too goddamn late. We know this and yet, we keep repeating the same mistakes.

Talk to your sons, nephews, students, team mates, colleagues, grandkids, club members, etc about healthy masculinity, bystander intervention and how we can all work to dismantle rape culture.

Womyn deserve better and so do men.