MEN ENGAGED: Standing Up By Lying Down

/ Thursday, January 24th, 2013 / No Comments »

The rape-murder of a 23 year-old physiotherapy student in India has captured the consciousness of the world.  The image that keeps coming into my mind is the photo gone around the world of Indian men lying down in the streets of New Delhi in protest, anger and grief.  Perhaps for the first time, these men took a position in solidarity with their wives, mothers, and daughters.  What resonates for me is that these men were just the ordinary kind. Many had never taken such an action before, many probably harbor traditional views of women and girls and some have probably at one time or another harassed a woman.  But these ordinary, everyday men were moved by the atrocity of the rape and by the enormity of the misogyny to do something.  For many, it probably was a visceral reaction and not a planned, well-thought out protest.  They were not organizers, or “politically correct.” They were moved to act and they did so by just lying down and demanding action in a country that blames females for the sexual violence acted upon them and rarely prosecutes the abusers and often forces girls to marry the ones who raped the. . . a country where sexual trafficking of young boys and girls is off the charts.

Sexual violence, whether it happens to a female, male, adolescent or child of either gender still remains a secret hidden behind shame and stigma…not just in India and other countries around the world but within our own.  Gloria Steinem said, “rape is about violence proving masculine superiority, playing out hostility to other men by invading the body of their female. . . raping men and boys to make them as inferior as females.”  Sexual violence in all its forms thrives in rape culture where children and women are seen as objects,  as less than, and inferior – where societal institutions participate, support and propagate these views in both obvious and subtle ways.

What if concerned, ordinary men, stood up to these beliefs and systems?  What if the image I can’t get out of my head of men standing up by lying down in the streets protesting rape, child sexual abuse, sex trafficking, was not a rare photo but a prime event that spread from community to community, from country to country?  How much quicker would we get to safer and saner and healthier society: the opposite of the rape culture that we suffer with now? What gains would/could be made if men really engaged as allies and leaders in ending sexual violence? What if photos of men from anywhere standing up and “upstanding” appeared everywhere? I can dream,  can’t I?




This blog was originally featured on the Joyful Heart Foundation blog, 1in6 Thursdays

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