The Power Of The Peer Group In Preventing Campus Rape

The Power Of The Peer Group In Preventing Campus Rape

“[David Lisak] surveyed about 1,800 men, asking them a wide range of questions about their sexual experiences. To learn about sexual assault he asked things like, ‘have you ever had sex with an adult when they didn’t want to because you used physical force?’ When the results came back he was stunned.

All told, 120 men in the sample, or about 6 percent of the total, had raped women they knew. Two-thirds of those men were serial rapists, who had done this, on average, six times. Many of the serial rapists began offending before college, back in high school. Together, the 120 men in Lisak’s study were responsible for 439 rapes. None were ever reported.

Alcohol was the weapon of choice for these men, who typically saw themselves as college guys hooking up. They didn’t think what they had done was a crime. ‘Most of these men have an image or a myth about rape, that it’s some guy in a ski mask wielding a knife,’ says Lisak. ‘They don’t wear ski masks, they don’t wield knives, so they don’t see themselves as rapists.’

In fact they’d brag about what they had done afterwards to their friends. That implied endorsement from male friends – or at the very least, a lack of vocal objection — is a powerful force, perpetuating the idea that what these guys are doing is normal rather than criminal.”

Heard this story on NPR while drinking my coffee this morning and was totally blown away. This is just another example of why talking about rape prevention with men (something traditionally taught to women) is so important. I recently read Next Time Someone Says Women Aren’t Victims Of Harassment, Show Them This, a fantastic comic strip that breaks down sexual harassment and includes tips on how men can help prevent harassment from happening.

A program called MVP is taking this idea to the next level.

“MVP, or Mentors in Violence Prevention, matches upperclassmen with groups of incoming freshman. Throughout the school year, the older kids facilitate discussions about relationships, drinking, sexual assault and rape.

Xavier Scarlett, a rising senior and captain of the football, basketball and track teams, says he tries to get inside the heads of the freshman guys he mentors. They talk through various scenarios. What does it mean to hook up with a drunk girl when you’re sober? Would you be letting down your guy friends if you don’t hook up in that situation?

These conversations are tough, often awkward, in high school. A lot of the mentors still haven’t confronted this kind of situation in real life by the time they graduate. But once they get to college, says Iowa State University junior Tucker Carrell, a former MVP mentor, the scenarios come to life.”

I can’t recommend this article highly enough. If you don’t feel like reading the whole thing, take eight minutes out of your day and listen to it. Then share it with your friends, your co-workers, your kids.


Cool at 13, Adrift at 23

Cool at 13, Adrift at 23

At 13, they were viewed by classmates with envy, admiration and not a little awe. The girls wore makeup, had boyfriends and went to parties held by older students. The boys boasted about sneaking beers on a Saturday night and swiping condoms from the local convenience store. They were cool. They were good-looking. They were so not you. Whatever happened to them?

“The fast-track kids didn’t turn out O.K.,” said Joseph P. Allen, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia. He is the lead author of a new study, published this month in the journal Child Development, that followed these risk-taking, socially precocious cool kids for a decade. In high school, their social status often plummeted, the study showed, and they began struggling in many ways.

Clearly my complete lack of social status in middle school is why I am so well-adjusted now! At least, that’s what I’m going to tell myself in order to comfort my inner middle-schooler. As previously discussed, I was a giant weirdo who really, really wanted to fit in but never quite managed to. I got over it, mostly, but I still have a sense that I missed out on something. Maybe I did, but it looks like I might have dodged a bullet.

[via The Hairpin]

High School in Southern Georgia: What ‘Career Technical’ Education Looks Like

High School in Southern Georgia: What ‘Career Technical’ Education Looks Like

“In the past, we’ve encouraged all kids to go to college, because of the idea that it made the big difference in income levels,” Rachel Baldwin told me on the phone this morning. She then mentioned a recent public radio series on the origins of success, and said: “The recent evidence suggests really goes back to something like ‘grit.’ I think you are more likely to learn grit in one of these technical classes. The plumber who has grit may turn out to be more entrepreneurial and successful than someone with an advanced degree. Our goal has been getting students a skill and a credential that puts them above just the entry-level job, including if they’re using that to pay for college.”

Being from southern Georgia doesn’t always give me a lot of pride, at least not when it comes to reading news stories. But this piece just made my whole day. I hope other public schools around the country follow suit.

The Cuddle Puddle of Stuyvesant High School [Feb 2006]

The Cuddle Puddle of Stuyvesant High School [Feb 2006]

We haven’t had one from the archives in a while, and this article is a perfect supplement to my previous post about studying bisexuality. It’s also a favorite of mine.

Alair is headed for the section of the second-floor hallway where her friends gather every day during their free tenth period for the “cuddle puddle,” as she calls it. There are girls petting girls and girls petting guys and guys petting guys. She dives into the undulating heap of backpacks and blue jeans and emerges between her two best friends, Jane and Elle, whose names have been changed at their request. They are all 16, juniors at Stuyvesant. Alair slips into Jane’s lap, and Elle reclines next to them, watching, cat-eyed. All three have hooked up with each other. All three have hooked up with boys—sometimes the same boys. But it’s not that they’re gay or bisexual, not exactly. Not always.

Their friend Nathan, a senior with John Lennon hair and glasses, is there with his guitar, strumming softly under the conversation. “So many of the girls here are lesbian or have experimented or are confused,” he says.

Ilia, another senior boy, frowns at Nathan’s use of labels. “It’s not lesbian or bisexual. It’s just, whatever . . . ”

It’s just, whatever.

In Defense of Cheerleading

In Defense of Cheerleading

You should know that I was never a cheerleader; in fact, whatever the opposite of cheerleader is in high school, that was me. I wasn’t even smart enough [read: I didn’t care enough about doing all of my homework] to be a real nerd. I was just awkward, wore my pants too high, and had too many opinions. I also read novels in Algebra class when I should have been, y’know, learning Algebra.

“I tried to find my new place. I was on the Math Team, which was so egregiously uncool. I had to pose for a yearbook picture in my math-punning sweatshirt and hated myself. I couldn’t decide who to be friends with: my childhood friends, who still kinda dressed like children? Or these new kids from the Catholic school who were kinda bad and wore flannel? There is no inner turmoil the like the turmoil of seventh grader deciding who she’s going to target for friendship, and then the anguishing effort that follows. The phone conversations, the horrible, contentless phone conversations.”

This terror of figuring out who my friends were and what kind of person I would become happened for me in 8th grade. I remember very well distancing myself from one group of friends and trying to find another. By the time I graduated high school, I had a few close friends, but I never felt like I fit into a big group. I was friends with a lot of the emo, gothy kids, but I was never quite depressed enough to fit in. I also wasn’t willing to break too many of my parents’ rules; I was a good kid at heart. Not to mention that I actually liked my parents, which made me even more weird.

“But if you’ve never lived in a small, rural town, I need to underline it for you and bold it and then make it italic: I had so few other options that made me feel like I belonged. If I would’ve been a cooler kid, if I would’ve had some magnificent and vibrant sense of self, if I could’ve given two fucks about what others thought about me, if I had had solid proof that no matter how few friends you have in 7th grade you can still grow up to be a person of worth, then maybe I would’ve said no to the weird quasi-sport that involves choreographed hand movements in non-breathable polyester outfits. But I didn’t, so I didn’t.”

I wish I had found something like cheerleading in high school. Mostly I just didn’t care enough to get involved in anything. I was barely on time in the morning (running through the halls before the bell rang) and the first one out the door in the afternoon, before the parking lot traffic made it impossible to leave. I was also friends with several band kids, and I envied their closeness. They were weird, too, but at least they were weird together, and they had something outside of school to look forward to.

As it was, I got out of my small town as quickly as I could, and I have no plans of ever moving back.

Back to the essay: regardless of where you fell on the popularity scale, you will probably identify with Anne Helen Petersen‘s description of being a girl in public school between the ages of twelve and seventeen. You will cringe in recognition, and you will be relieved, as I was, that you’re not back there anymore.