Open Blog Post About the Phrase: “Teaching Men Not To Rape”

Can I present you with a scenario?

Let say for instance that racism exists. (I say this because many people don’t really believe it exists) Could I make any progress towards addressing racism if I thought every White person was evil and secretly wanted to put me in prison, force me to work for free, take away what little wealth I have amassed, rape my sister, raise German Shepherds to stick on my other family members when we didn’t fall in line? A less extreme example, could I really do anything to address racism if I felt every white person was a closeted biggot? If every Caucasian person felt that every black person was an illiterate thug that lives to abuse the system and plunge the nation into violence and bombastic beats suffused with ironical behaviors like wearing gold on one’s teeth while being morally spiritually and emotionally impoverished, would there be any room for change or progress?

Teaching Men not to Rape

I am a man. I have never raped anyone. All the men I know have not raped anyone. I have never taken a class that was men only and  told about the positives of rape. I am exposed to the same movies and TV shows, news paper articles as most other men and women and I have never had the urge to rape someone. I often get a little ticked off when I hear that “we should be teaching men not to rape”.

When I think hear that phrase, I think:

  1. If Raping is a learned behaviour, there must be teachers, a teaching and a method of applying and indoctrinating that ideology. There must be specific criteria for a pupil to find such a school, pass the curricula and graduate into their status as a rapist.
  2. Females cannot be rapist. Either the same school that serves to indoctrinate boys and men that rape is ok and good doesn’t service women or that women are incorruptible and the thought of rape let alone the act would never happen.

According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, a nationally representative study on sexual victimization developed by the CDC, 4.8 percent of men in the United States have been “made to penetrate” someone against their will at some point in their lifetimes. That’s nearly 5.5 million men. And for about 80 percent of those men, their abusers were female.

I feel that if you think rape is wrong for the sake of the 5.5 million men, or for the sake of the 4.4 million men forced against their will by women, I think we should not say that we should teach men not to rape. (That’s just me though) Do you know that for men in this situation, there is an ensuing ensuing psychological aftermath very similar to female rape victims: reckless behaviour,  promiscuity, long-term difficulty trusting women or even sharing confined spaces with them.

This doesn’t Mean…

This doesn’t mean that I am turning a blind eye to the rape crisis not just in the US but around the world. I find that language in many ways confers meaning. If you say it enough “we should teach men not to rape” people will think that men unilaterally are empty vessels programmed to rape by society. Then the only difference between me and a rapist is that I guess bad PR on the part of that seemingly ubiquitous Rape School I never enrolled in.

I think language like this sets a precedent that I unfortunately have seen a few people subscribe to; namely that every man is a potential rapist. English isnt my first language so certain phraseology sticks out and unfortunately this one in particular strikes a chord with me. I find that statement just as blinkered as saying all black people are thieves/violent/uneducated, or that all women are tricks and gold diggers.  Imagine if you saw the following statements everyday on blogs you check into every day?  How would you feel ?

  • We need to teach White People How Not to Destroy Other Peoples who have things they want like oil… Rubber trees … children … water … minerals
  • We need to teach Black People how to not be so violent
  • We need to teach Women how to not be so Manipulative/Bad at driving
  • We need to teach Men how not to Rape

Would you be able to talk to the people saying that in a constructive way ? (I don’t believe any of these btw, I think that’s obvious but I had to say it) I personally would feel a bit reluctant to talk with anyone who said any of these things. It’s like being guilty before committing any crime. It’s a horrible feeling trust me on this one.

What I loved so much about Martin Luther King was that he walked with both White and Blacks and with everyone who believed in freedom and that Human beings should not be oppressed. If he had believed that all whites were racist there would be no civil rights movements. Well that is what I think.

Some Thoughts

I think part of our cultural legacy is to take the lessons learned from various successful social movements and apply it to our current situations. In order to address rape both in our culture and around the world it will require participation from everyone. It will be hard for both parties enter a serious discussion when the language used, I feel as a man who has never raped anyone and never intends to, automatically forces one party to bear the guilt and shame of activities which they did not physically commit. It kills the general urge to engage with others in such a way as to help the situation. Also it creates a psychological environment that can affect negatively the growth and development of the next generation of boys/men.

Rape is wrong. No one deserves it man or woman no matter how you dress or look. I am not saying that men don’t rape, they do. I am not saying that females don’t rape they do. People who rape need to held accountable. If we are to talk about it in such a way to effectuate change, we have to look past our hurt, and not project the acts of a few onto the many. Many of the perpetrators of rape are someone the victims knows and trust and this is awful and sickens me really but does that mean that the best way to address rape is to again treat all men at potential rapist ? I feel everyone should be made aware of rape and its ramifications and the frequency at which it happens, where it happens. But raising awareness to me teaching men not to rape.

What are your thoughts ? Please share some comments

My Philosophy

When you call yourself an Indian or a Muslim or a Christian or a European, or anything else, you are being violent. Do you see why it is violent? Because you are separating yourself from the rest of mankind. When you separate yourself by belief, by nationality, by tradition, it breeds violence. So a man who is seeking to understand violence does not belong to any country, to any religion, to any political party or partial system; he is concerned with the total understanding of mankind.”

-J Krishamurthi

For me I am not a feminist or men’s rights activist. I am David a single human being who believes that people shouldn’t be raped, discriminated against.  I do not align myself with any movement because movements in time will fragment into many smaller groups each with a slightly different agenda. Feminism for example doesn’t speak for all women, and there are so many types of feminist, radical, liberal, cultural eco feminist to name a few. A movement cannot really appreciate different in language, cultural thought, religion, ethnicity. Movements do not work to integrate people. They raise awareness and consciousness of something but they don’t make us sit together and find a way to come together for the future. I feel like Krishnamurthi that for me  there is kind of divisiveness that comes with separating yourself from the rest.  If I say I am a Republican it focuses on a difference in vision. I woudl rather start from a point of shared humanity rather than a difference if that makes sense:

I am a human being like you, believe in freedom and that no one should be coerced into sexual situations.  I think rape is wrong and I want to do something about it what do you is what I think … how can we work from here….

its quixotic but just my two cents…


13 thoughts on “Open Blog Post About the Phrase: “Teaching Men Not To Rape”

  1. Hmmm…. Okay, I think I see where you’re coming from. What I mean when I say, “we need to teach boys/men not to rape” is that we need to take the onus off of girls/women to not get raped.

    The message to girls/women is don’t wear this, don’t drink that or too much, don’t walk alone, don’t, don’t, don’t…. We don’t teach boys/men (there was a study that showed that somewhere around 50% of college men would force a girl into intercourse if they were guaranteed not to be caught) not to rape. We don’t proactively teach them to respect girls/women. We don’t teach about consent.

    The onus should not be on girls/women to not get raped. The onus should be on boys/men to not rape.

    I don’t know if that helps to clarify what I mean when I say it…or if it makes any difference at all.


      1. Of course. 🙂

        I guess – to further clarify – what I’m trying to say is: it’s not like we can’t sort little boys in, like, grade 2 or whatever and say, “okay, you look like you’d rape someone, so we need you to take this class….”

        The problem with putting the onus on women is that it frames men’s natural state as rapist, and we know that’s not true. It’s a small percentage…we just don’t know which ones.

        I don’t know if that helps any.


      2. Meizac,

        I like your comment and it is informative. I wrote this post to learn something and engage in conversation. I just want to make sure that I’m clear that I am just inquiring, picking your brain and those of anyone who wants to respond and not trying to diminish the importance of the issue. I’m just hoping to learn something and more importantly enter in a conversation about an issue that affects many women and walk away having benefited from the exchange. with that said

        One thing I would like to point out is that there is a disconnect between the strict denotation of the phrase and the connotations the phrase. For me to get what you meant we had to engage in a conversation. From just reading the phrase I didn’t have a clear idea of what you meant. Perhaps other guys will not understand what is meant. Also what you mean may not exactly be the same as other women. I’m just saying that because you are the only women who has responded.

        First things first: it’s stupid for anyone to insinuate that rape and how a woman dresses are connected in any way. All the don’t s are illogical and sidestepping the main issue. In the same way, I felt that telling African American boys not to wear hoodies in public, or be out past sunset after the Trayvon Martin incident side steps the issue and put the onus on the victim not the perpetrator of the crime. (maybe victim isn’t the best term to use but I dont know what’s PC) I think we are in agreement. You and I both feel that putting the onus on women is not the way to go.

        What I wanted to explore were the following questions, namely:
        Can alienation of some men be a ramification of the use of phraseology that doesn’t take into account the complexity of the issue being discussed ? Can phraseology be an impediment to coming together to talk about this problem ? Is this “teaching men not to rape” a pertinent example ?

        What I would like to do is to share with you and anyone reading this the thought processes in my head when I hear this phrase. I think this is important because it might shed some light on how other people in particular men might approach the phrase and the topic. I think participation in discussing and solving this problem requires all people to be involved regardless of race gender sex age etc

        Thought 1:
        I have never raped anyone, I believe I was taught well to honour human beings whether male or female. As was explained to me rape “is an act of physical violence and domination that is not motivated by sexual gratification.” I was taught no human being should be subjected by me or anyone to any acts of violence or domination it doesn’t matter the sex or gender. So even though I have never raped anyone, Should I still be taught to honour and respect and not rape women? If even with my clean public record of treating women fairly do I still have to be taught not to rape? If so that would imply that

        1. since we do not know which man will be a rapist, it is better to put as many as possible through an education course. The strategy in this case is that since we do not have a means to ensure that we could identify potential rapist with some degree of confidence we need to expose large numbers of men, as many as possible to this re-education.
        2. Any man whether or not he has raped a woman is a potential rapist, just waiting for the perfect scenario, where they could rape and escape justice.

        Thought 2:

        The statement we have to teach men not to rape is very different from: We have to teach everyone not to rape. These two statements are not equivalent. If you accept 1) the definition that rape involves being forced against one will into a sexual act, whether the person is penetrated or not, and 2) the existence of male victims raped at the hand of females then the statement we must teach men not to rape, sweeps those people under the carpet. Even if men raped by women, or women raped by women are a small minority our phraseology should include these smaller groups. Otherwise over time what happens, I feel at least, is that what we are saying is that only females who are raped matter by virtue of our continued focus on them at the exclusion of these other groups.

        Thought 3:
        Who is this we? the education of men in our society doesn’t fall solely on the shoulders of other men as I see it. If there are men raping women due to a lack of education that lack of education falls under both men and women. The reason I say this is that there are women who are involved in the subjugation of other women, in much the same way as there were other negros during slavery that were involved in the the buying selling and beating of slaves. There are women who run drug cartels and order the rape and execution of other women. There are women involved in the sex trade, there are women prisoners who rape other female inmates. I do not bring this up to be nitpicking or overly captious. I am bringing this up to talk about the complexity of the situation and trying to make the point that the language used to talk about it should reflect that complexity.

        Thought 4:

        Through what means is this going to happen? Do you you take a male elementary school student (as you said your comment I read after I wrote this) and say you may be a potential rapist and tell him rape is bad? More specifically What age, racial, and religious demographic will you take in to teach? What is the method by how they will be taught? How can such a diverse group of men/boys who are of different ages, speak different languages and of different cultures be all taught under one general curriculum not to rape.

        I took these statistic from the national center of education statistics (

        Among full-time and part-time public school teachers in 2007–08, some 76 percent of public school teachers were female, 44 percent were under age 40, and 52 percent had a master’s or higher degree. Compared with public school teachers, a lower percentage of private school teachers were female (74 percent), were under age 40 (39 percent), and had a master’s or higher degree (38 percent). In addition, among both males and females, 83 percent of public school teachers were White, 7 percent each were Black or Hispanic, 1 percent each were Asian or of two or more races, and less than one percent each were Pacific Islander or American Indian/Alaska Native in 2007–08.

        If men are to be taught that rape is bad and women are to be honored then it stands to say that our current educational set-up isn’t doing much which given the high number of women in the educational it would mean that women, in particular caucasian women would have to be re-educated about rape as well because they have so much more contact with children during the course of their development then men.

        I remember an exercise I took from therapy where I would take something I would say and substitute different nouns and verbs and see if the meaning was in any way changed. When I substituted the noun “men” with another subgroup of the total population like “White people”, or “Black people” or “Asians” and rape with another word like “kill” “destroy” the phrase seemed to carry with it a subtle connotation that the act of rape is an intrinsic part of the group specified.

        I feel that the onus should be put on the perpetrator of the crime, and the re-education about rape should focus on both men and women too. I do not think that a man by his very nature is more prone to acts of rape than a female. There are cases of males raping males, females raping males, females raping females. Some even speculate that male raping males and females raping females in prison are quite common and the least report of all the different types of rape.

        These are again just my thinking aloud about the issue and I hope I am a little clearer on what I meant.


      3. Holy, that’s a long comment. I’ll come back to it tomorrow – probably not until the evening though.

        And thank you for opening a dialogue.


      4. Phew! Okay, I finally made it back here.

        Okay, so I don’t really disagree with anything that you’ve said. I guess what I’m saying, or what other women are saying when they say, “Teach men not to rape” is more that the onus should be taken off of women to protect themselves and put on men to not violate someone in that manner.

        And, of course, the focus is on men more than women, because men are the overwhelming majority of rapists – against both females and other males. So, we’ve taken (recently) to saying teach men not to rape, rather than teaching women not to get raped.

        I am well aware that not all men are rapists; that not even most men are rapists. In fact, the whole idea what women must always be on their guard actually frames all men’s natural state as rapist. That’s a problem for all of us, obviously.

        And I don’t know that any of us mean that little boys/young men should be sent through some sort of formal training to not rape women. As you say, you were taught to respect and honour all human beings. I assume your parents and other people who are very influential in your life taught you that. Not everyone is taught that. In fact, not only was my rapist – apparently – not taught to not rape, but it was pretty well ingrained in me from the outset that I am disposable.

        I don’t know that there’s a right answer to anything that either of us are saying. I do think, though, that – generally speaking – the message needs to change from: “women must do this, this and that to not get raped” to: “we need to teach men (etc.) that they should not be raping.”


      5. Meizac,

        It’s always a pleasure to see you on the blog. I hope you’ve been well. I feel too that we are in agreement. I do believe that we, all of us, should come out and talk about rape and gender inequality. I also feel we should talk about and expose certain institution and their subsequent practices that maintain a close minded view towards these issues.

        However I am clueless how this is to be done and if this can be done in a way with as little collateral damage as possible. I feel and maybe it is pessimistic of me that every change in consciousness or rather I should say any major change in how a society approaches treatment of some of its denizens, comes with collateral damage.

        We are backlogged with discussions in this society: discussions about gender and sexuality, about race, about xenophobia and killing for the sake of foreign investments etc. I am afraid for the future because all these topics are intrinsically linked and they have been for centuries. Many of our attitudes stem from colonial times, which according to some ended in the 1950’s and I wonder how much they have changed really since that time.

        I think back to the post civil war era and early 1900’s were many black man were lynched under accusation of rape, or to the removal of cocaine in the early 1900 because many white felt that: “negro cocaine fiends” were raping white women, the police powerless to stop them. Actually on February 8, 1914, The New York Times published an article entitled “Negro Cocaine ‘Fiends’ Are New Southern Menace:Murder and Insanity Increasing Among Lower-Class Blacks” by Edward Huntington Williams which reported that Southern sheriffs had increased the caliber of their weapons from .32 to .38 to bring down Negroes under the effect of cocaine” – Cocaine was popularly used and considered to be a sexual invigorator.

        Maybe because I am a little paranoid, I kind of feel that if not done with tact this can have some racial ramifications (given the history of course)and alienate some people that would otherwise want to help or contribute.

        I think what kind of makes me sad has always been that insight doesn’t always translate into action, and when it does it not always as mutually beneficial to everyone.


  2. I have something to say about this, but I think you should visit my blog post for today to see where I’m coming from first. Otherwise it may not make as much sense, or take up too much comments space to explain. I don’t want to derail anymore than I have to…


    1. Tarnished, I consider you a friend, and you don’t have to be so polite. Say what you have to say dear this is all about learning and I read your post on Daan’s blog. Go for it. I am running errands so I wont be able to respond for a few hours



      1. Thank you, Dave. Ok, here goes.

        Even though I shouldn’t agree with you…even though I gave up therapy because I was ridiculed for it…I find nothing wrong with what you are saying. You aren’t defending rapists, or saying that rape victims are liars, or even that those who rape should be forgiven. What you are saying is that it’s unfair and cruel to paint all of a group with the same brush.

        And I concur.

        I have been molested, struck, spit on, screamed at, hit with objects, penetrated (but not with a penis), held down, fondled, bruised, and made to feel like a body instead of a person. Men did this to me. My father was physically abusive and my stepfather was sexually/emotionally abusive. The two men in my life I was meant to look up to and rely on for protection and direction were the two worst ones I’ve ever known in my 29 years on this earth. By all rights, I should have learned to hate and fear the male of our species.

        But I didn’t. I couldn’t. For everything that happened to me by the men at my homes, I was shown on a daily basis by the men I was/am friends with that it wasn’t normal or typical behavior. I was screamed at for having a different opinion…but then my friends would remain tolerant or agree with me. I’d be told that my body was made for male use…but then my friends would respect my boundaries. I would be too scared to move away from the prying, pinching angry hands…but then my friends would show that men don’t have to take their frustrations out on anothers body.

        How could I say to them “we should teach men not to rape” when they showed me day after day that it wasn’t even a thought in their minds? How could I, knowing that I have a masculine brain, but that I’ve never thought of possessing someone that way? How could I lump them, my dear, wonderful, loving friends in with the horrors I saw at home? All of them had penises and male type brains, but the similarities ended there.

        I cannot agree with people who say “we need to teach MEN not to rape”when it’s not an inherently male trait. We cannot hold the actions of the deranged and horrible few up to the actions of the many normal, caring ones and say it is the same when it’s not. What we need to do is create a culture of equality, mutual respect and acknowledge the sacredness of sex and sexual parts. Don’t tell men not to rape.
        Don’t tell women not to rape.

        Tell them to cherish each other member of society as a full individual with feelings, dreams, goals and desires of their own. Once everyone is equal, rape will disappear on its own.


      2. First thanks for this comment, it was very personal. I appreciate you sharing this with me. Of course hearing about what you went through makes me sad, incredibly sad, especially from the glimpses of you Ive seen from your comments, and your blog posts. Actually that sadness kept me from responding sooner. I felt like giving you a hug. I hope that doesnt sound creepy. I dunno what constitutes as appropriate way to respond to reading or hearing such things. I’m glad you had friends though who were able to do so in their own way.

        The Language we choose has many implications, some more subtle than others, on how effectively we can unify people to change something. I have a sister who I love a lot, a lady, lady-friends and I dont know how I would deal if they got raped, same for my male friends if that happened to them. I feel there is a role that men should play in changing how we as a society deal with rape. I think the wrong phraseology can infact impede this process.

        I really believe that creating a culture of equality and mutual respect that still honors our physiological and pyschological differences is very important. I think it can be done but I dunno if the time for that idea has come


  3. I understand your reasoning, but Meizac pretty much hit the nail on the head. I never hear the phrase “teach men not to rape” alone. It usually follows a statement regarding society’s tendency to blame the victim if she is raped or sexually assaulted. So instead, many feel that we should not teach women what to wear and how to behave, but we should teach men that women should be respected regardless of clothing or behavior.

    Now, the other aspect of that phrase is that many people don’t fully understand what constitutes rape. It’s not just women being violently attacked by a stranger. Rape includes continuing when a girl changes her mind about sex, sleeping with a girl who is too drunk, sleeping with a girl who asleep or unconscious, etc. So it’s not JUST about a woman who have said no, but it’s also about women who have not said yes. That’s not often addressed in our culture, and it needs to be if we want to talk about prevention.

    Finally, when we talk about teaching men not to rape, it’s not so much about a formal class as it is about what society teaches. The same way we teach women how to behave in order to prevent rape is how we should be teaching people to respect each other’s bodies. It’s taught through what parents say, through what peers say, and through what the media portrays as normal views and behavior.

    So in my experience, these are the issues we are talking about when we say we have to teach men not to rape. Not because we think rape is inherently a male behavior, but because many men are taught by society that what they are doing isn’t rape or that certain women deserve it. It’s certainly not all men or all women. I can’t really address the point about men who are forced into penetration against their will – I don’t know much about that and I have never heard that statistic before. But that is also not really what the phrase itself pertains to. You’re right that women and men have to be taught about these issues. I think it’s the prevalence of men committing the crime against females that contributed to the popularity of the phrase. Not to say that other dynamics of sexual violence aren’t important, but it doesn’t seem that the phrase is referring to ALL rapes or ALL men. It’s about a cultural shift in attitudes towards women and rape.

    I feel like that was a little convoluted. But I hope it was clear enough and not too repetitive.


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