3 Ways Men Can Speak Out Against Campus Sexual Violence

Posted by Katie Brown on 22 September 2016 |

men speak against campus violenceAllies Against Violence on Campus

Whether male or female, student or professor, it’s likely you’ve seen, heard or experienced some sort of violence on campus, possibly in the form of bullying, assault or theft.

So then who is responsible for speaking out against violence? Is it the students? Or maybe Title IX coordinators? And what about men on campus?

The answer is everyone. Everyone plays a role in preventing violence on campus—from exercising campus safety tips to being a proactive bystander when you see or hear an issue arise.

But today, let’s take a look at the ways men can can serve as advocates for violence prevention. Because while often overlooked, men can be essential allies against violence on campus.

In our whitepaper, co-authored by violence prevention health educator Tremayne Robertson, research shows that often, while men recognize an emotional need to intervene when they witness a woman in distress or in a compromising situation, nearly 80 percent of them do not react or attempt to stop the situation.

Ultimately though, it’s a combination of tactics that men can use to stop violence on campus: redefine gender stereotypes, practice bystander intervention and encourage proactive speech.

1. The Modern Meaning of Masculinity

In recent years, we’ve seen a shift in roles of men and women in our society. The “traditional” idea of the strong, courageous male providing for the family while the obedient, maternal female oversees the household is a stereotype that has greatly evolved in the past 100 years.

Today, we often see women as the breadwinners and the “typical” family has been revolutionized by the LGBTQIA community. So what does this mean for men and masculinity?

According to a Portland Press Herald article, “Many men don’t agree with tough-guy masculinity but still feel pressure to conform to it by hiding deep feelings and avoiding the vulnerability of emotional connection with lovers and friends.”

So while men may understand and identify a threat or violence on campus, their disposition to display a “masking of concern for others” may inhibit their ability to react with appropriate bystander tactics.

That’s why it’s important to help men recognize that they don’t have to conform to the traditional ideals of masculinity: financial success, power and control or idolization. In fact, they can completely redefine what masculinity means.

2. Be a Better Bystander

Often, whether male or female, people suffer from the bystander effect, where individuals fail to intervene when other bystanders are present. However, bystander intervention is one of the most common ways to prevent issues on campus.

Whether it’s a threatening social media post, a violent act or possibly theft, it’s not uncommon for people to look the other way when witnessing uncomfortable or unethical situations.

But for the victim, men can play a pivotal role in ensuring their safety. For example, if direct intervention doesn’t seem safe or plausible, they can discuss the situation with a professor, staff member or counselor. Or if someone is in immediate danger, they call the police.

3. Speak Out Against Sexual Assault

Without awareness, sexual assault and violence on campus will only continue. To put a stop to these issues, it’s important for people to understand the warning signs and know how to react. On many campuses across the U.S., male students are becoming proactive allies in violence prevention.

One example of this is men’s groups. Whether created by the university or a group of male students, these groups allow men to discuss the role of men as allies against sexual violence, as well as promote thoughtful discussions around gender issues and bystander intervention.


To stop sexual violence on campus, everyone needs to be involved—especially men. And by modernizing what it means to be a man, practicing ways to be a better bystander and speaking out against sexual assault, men can help make a violence-free campus a reality.

For more information about how men can help prevent violence on campus, please check out Campus Answers’ men as allies whitepaper  or our Student Empower training course.

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