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Thursday, October 28, 2021

Scholar reframes rape as men’s issue

Educator on sexual violence prevention Dr. Keith Edwards spoke to campus members Tuesday at Gordon Dining and Event Center about reframing the issue of rape and sexual violence as a men’s issue, and the ways in which students can act to make a positive change on campus.

“To frame something where women are the victim as a woman’s issue would be like if we had an epidemic of drunk drivers hitting and killing pedestrians in Madison and how we responded to that was having classes on how to walk across the street,” said Edwards, who frequently speaks to campuses on these issues. “That makes no sense whatsoever.”

The talk had an interactive component, with Edwards asking audience members to respond to slides, one of which had the words “She Fears You.”

“I don’t want her to,” one audience member responded.

“I flash through all of the times I have feared men,” another said. “[It brings up] vulnerability mixed with anger. Anger at myself, at men… at society.”

One in four women on college campuses report surviving rape or attempted rape, Edwards said. He noted how this number has come up repeatedly in research, citing studies done by the U.S. Justice Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“You all know that men rape, but we don’t talk about it like that ... We ask women to respond to a world where this is the reality,” Edwards said. “When women are raped on a college campus, it is overwhelmingly men on that campus who have raped her. When men or trans folks are raped, it is overwhelmingly by men.”

Edwards addressed the importance of “clear, unambiguous, freely given” consent at every step of the way when engaging in sexual activity. He said this consent it the only line between sex and rape.

When someone is unable to give consent, or a situation seems like it could lead to a rape or assault, it is the responsibility of bystanders to intervene, Edwards said.

“You have the power to stop sexual violence on this campus probably every weekend,” Edwards said.

UW-Madison freshman Kai Pham said he learned a lot from the presentation, and now feels equipped to talk to others about Edwards’ message.

“I think this really gave me some tools that I can use to reach the people who aren’t here,” Pham said. 

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