Sunday, May 10, 2009

Men Can Stop Rape "Men and Women as Allies" conference

Please find below an email I received from Men Can Stop Rape (MCSR) about their recent conference in DC, in which I was asked to present on a panel entitled "When Women are Responsible for Working with Men on Campus."

It was an incredible experience, meeting anti-rape activists from around the country. There were some big names present, including Rosario Dawson, Byron Hurt, US Dept of Justice Office on Violence Against Women, and Congresswoman Donna Edwards.

One of my favorite parts included Ben Atherton-Zeman's performance, which was funny and moving. I was shocked to learn that 1 in 6 men in college are sexually assaulted. I am sorry that as an activist in the field, the high rate of victimization among men surprised me. Most of us had tears in our eyes, listening to the real-life account of one such male, sexually assaulted repeatedly by his friend - a teenage GIRL! Although men perpetrate the majority, about 90% of sexual violence, we need to remember, there are women perpetrators as well.

I had amazing co-presenters, including Connie Kirkland, Director, Sexual Assault Services, George Mason University, who founded the 3rd rape crisis center in the country; and Jen Luettel Schweer, M.A., LPC, Sexual Assault and Health Issues Coordinator, Georgetown University. Joseph Vess, Men Can Stop Rape's Director of Training & Technical Assistance, moderated the panel.

I was humbled when some of the attendees of the panel told us it was their favorite panel. It was lively, with interesting questions raised, and lessons learned from the panelists and the attendees.

I have to thank Joseph Vess of MCSR, who invited me to attend, and covered the costs associated with traveling. Without Joe's help, I would not be able to attend. Some of you might remember meeting him in April 2007, when he and a colleague came to Hunter at our invitation, to present a workshop. Here is an article:

Although I will graduate in June, I plan to stay connected to MCSR, and hope you do the same. MCSR is a progressive and influential organization that is a strong ally in our fight against intimate-partner violence.

Jerin Alam
National NOW Young Feminist Task Force

Hunter Women’s Rights Coalition (HWRC)

Dear Jerin,

The success of "Men and Women as Allies," a National Conference on Primary Prevention of Men's Violence Against Women, far exceeded our expectations - largely because of presentations like yours. More than 300 people gathered to hear keynote speakers Rosario Dawson, Ritu Sharma, Byron Hurt, Congresswoman Donna Edwards, Catherine Pierce, and Ben Atherton-Zeman; but it was in workshops that attendees had the chance to participate in dialogue at its most engaging and inspiring.

As was evident in the presentations, all of you are leading the way in primary prevention. You are instituting the programs. You are influencing new prevention policy. You are teaching us that men and women as allies can change the world, making it better for women and children. The conference would have had no legs under it without your expertise and dedication.

We were fortunate to have received outstanding media coverage for "Men and Women as Allies." You can view a story by a Washington, DC CBS affiliate and also see Catherine Pierce's speech on CSPAN. Additionally, there was reporting by Univision, and actress Rosario Dawson's speech will be featured in People Magazine. For Men Can Stop Rape's own coverage of the conference, check out photos taken during both days.

There are various ways you can continue to stay involved. Perhaps you saw the informal survey on "Naming Our Professional Field" in your conference tote bag. You can now complete that survey online. You can also complete the overall conference evaluation online. Both forms will only take a minute or two of your time and your input will be very helpful. Finally, please continue the conference conversations at the newly created "Men and Women as Allies" listserv.

We greatly appreciate your support as an ally and hope it will continue in the future. In turn, Men Can Stop Rape will continue to stand beside you, working to create cultures free from violence, especially men's violence against women


  1. It is unfortunate that in your attempt to sympathize with male victims you still misrepresent the reality of male rape and sexual assault. According to recent studies, women make up 40% the rapists of male victims and 6% of the rapists of female victims. The claim that males make up 90% of the rapists is patently false. Speaking as someone who has had such experiences and who advocates for other male victims, it is statements like that that keep male victims from coming forward and perpetuate the myth, largely purported by feminists, that males cannot be raped and that females cannot be rapists.

  2. I took my statistics from the 2005 Bureau of Justice Statistics, a division of the US Department of Justice, which reported that 97.8% of rape offenders were men, compared to only 2.2% of women. (Page 51) I apologize and stand corrected. Thank you for clarifying the statistics for me.

    What I take offense in is your claim that my mistaken statistic is purported by feminists, as if all feminists believe “males cannot be raped and that females cannot be rapists.” You say you are someone who advocates for other male victims. That means you reject misogynistic stereotypes that show women as weak and men as animals unable to control their own desires. That makes you a feminist. Please do not attack the group of people most likely to be your strongest allies in this type of work – other feminists.