8 Ways Men Can Be Allies in the Fight Against Sexual Violence

How Men are Fighting Against Sexual Violence

Posted on 18 May 2016 |

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How Sexual Violence Can Affect Men on Campus

men as alliesSexual violence affects everyone on campus, whether you identify as male, female, gender nonconforming or transgender. As reported by several sources, an estimated 20 to 25 percent of females are sexually assaulted on campus each year. But why is it that we don’t hear much about the men who are victims of sexual violence?

Because even though female and LGBTQIA students represent the majority of sexual violence victims, men are also victims. According to the Department of Justice’s “Campus Climate Survey Validation Study Final Technical Report,” three percent of males have experienced sexual assault during the 2014-15 academic school year.

Sexual violence also affects men who are not victims. For example, a close friend or boyfriend might have been the victim of sexual violence. And that person could be experiencing the side effects which include anything from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to withdrawing from family and friends. And it’s really hard to watch someone you care about suffer—especially if you feel there is nothing you can do about it.

But that’s not true. There is a lot that men on campus can do to prevent sexual violence; they just need to be more involved. And one of the most exciting ways to involve them is to engage men as allies.

Men Can Speak Out Against Sexist Language

We’ve talked about this before in a previous blog post, and you can read our whitepaper co-authored by Tremayne Robertson, the violence prevention health educator at Virginia Commonwealth University: Interrupting Violence on Campus: Engaging Men as Allies.

But what does it mean for a man to be an ally? In many ways it’s similar to being a proactive bystander. In fact, there is a lot of overlap in the two concepts. For instance, men who are allies also change the conversation.

So if they hear a sexist joke or degrading language, they speak up and say something. Let’s say a group of men are talking after class and a transgender student walks by into the women’s bathroom. If some of the men in the group start making jokes about the transgender student, a man who is an ally will speak up and let them know it’s wrong to make those kinds of jokes, and that transgender students have the right to use whichever restroom matches their gender identity.

Additional Ways Men Can Be Allies

And that’s just one of the ways men can be allies. There are many others including:

  • Recognizing the challenges women face when it comes to equality
  • Respecting the unique experiences of women when they speak about them
  • Offering a listening ear when a friend, classmate or acquaintance experiences discrimination because of their gender
  • Standing up for LGBTQIA individuals when they experience discrimination or bullying
  • Intervening (only when its safe) when they witness sexual violence against another student
  • Holding other men accountable for their language and actions toward women

Challenging Traditional Male Stereotypes

An additional very important way men can be allies is by challenging traditional male stereotypes. What does that mean exactly? It means releasing themselves from the pressure of “acting like a man” or having to “man up.”

For instance, it’s a stereotype that men must be the “bread winners” in a relationship, and if they aren’t, then they are doing something wrong. College men in particular face pressure when choosing a major and a career trajectory to pick something traditionally masculine that will have a high income potential—like finance or engineering.

They are subtly turned away from stereotypically female professions, such as nursing and teaching. These careers are a valid option that should not be discouraged simply because they don’t fit the traditional masculine career path.

Men who are acting as allies recognize that these stereotypically female majors and careers while requiring a different skill set, are just as valid a career choice as something stereotypically male. And, they challenge these stereotypes to change the idea of “what it means to be a man.”


From the language they use in every day conversation to challenging traditional male stereotypes, there are many ways that men can be allies in the fight against campus sexual violence. To learn more about training that helps reinforce men as allies and bystander intervention, contact us today.

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