Bystanders

Ever since the so called “Roast busters” case broke this week, I’ve had a few men say to me that they feel sickened by the actions of these young men, and wonder what voice do we have as men?  Can we as men talk about Rape Culture?

Of course we can, but more than that we need to.  There have been a number of  intelligent voices online who have talked eloquently and with real passion about how we as a nation need to now acknowledge that New Zealand has a serious problem.  (Click here, here and here for more.)

But sadly the voices that have disturbed me has been the voices of other men.

Whether it’s John Tamihere and Willie Jackson’s bizarre and seemingly in-sightless harassment of a young woman on air, John Key’s off the cuff remark that the Roastbusters need to “grow up”, or the apparent lack of understanding of the psychological effects of rape and abuse shown in the Police’s remarks that the girls attacked have not been “brave enough” to come forward.

As a man, at these moments I feel ashamed and let down by my own gender.

And as understandable as it is, forming a lynch mob and beating the crap out of these young men in retribution for their actions achieves little but a perverse sense of satisfaction.  That’s not how we need to respond as men.

We need to recognize that these young boys who have so horribly lost their way, were surrounded by other boys and men.  It’s too easy to stand by and let the sexist remarks slide, the objectification occur, stand by when a mate “targets” someone who’s been drinking at a party.  It’s just what happens right?

Well to do so is to turn a blind eye to what is rightly labelled “rape culture.”

Sexual violence doesn’t happen in a vacuum, it happens in a context where the degradation of women and children, the privileging of masculine power and the celebration of sexual conquest takes precedence over human decency and respecting others.

As men we all have a role to play.  As much as it is difficult to talk openly about sex and consent, teaching our sons how to use condoms and what a cross section of a uterus looks like is woefully inadequate preparation for the world of sexuality.

Not only do we as a nation need to thoroughly investigate the actions of the Police, and prosecute these young men to the full extent of the law, we also need to stand up and stop standing by as our friends, brothers, colleagues and team mates behave towards women in ways we feel uncomfortable about.

Mates don’t let mates abuse women and children.

Leave a Comment

  • Linda Carmichael November 8, 2013, 1:11 am

    I’ve worked in sexual abuse recovery for a number of years,
    the trauma resulting from sexual violance damages mind, body,
    spirit and has a profound affect on how safe a survivor feels
    within our community. A few years ago I witnessed a detective
    discussing a rape case that was going to court. He said “Very few
    defendants in rape cases in Hawkes Bay are found guilty”. For many
    years I have been wondering “why”……my conclusion is that it
    seems that when alcohol is involved or the victim is drugged, the
    question concerning consent is difficult to prove. Because of this
    ridiculous attitude, rapists are getting away with it and the
    traumaticly affected have a long long road to healing. It is time
    our community (which includes the Police) took care of the victims
    of sexual crimes, men, women and children. I have heard “not enough
    evidence” far too often.

    Reply
  • Liz Walker November 13, 2013, 12:00 am

    It saddens me to hear of this story from across the ditch
    in Australia. Thank you for writing this article and I particularly
    appreciate the comment: “As much as it is difficult to talk openly
    about sex and consent, teaching our sons how to use condoms and
    what a cross section of a uterus looks like is woefully inadequate
    preparation for the world of sexuality.” Sex education needs to be
    so much more than what it is currently in many of our schools –
    both in Australia and in New Zealand. In our GET A GRIP teenz
    program we challenge rape culture head on by unpacking a true story
    of Becky when she was 14: 5 boys got her drunk and raped her.
    Confronting – but very effective. Unless rape myths are confronted,
    respect & consent unpacked, empathy encouraged and young
    men challenged to diffuse these types of situations as part of a
    comprehensive approach to sexuality education, I fear we will see
    more stories similar to “Roast Busters”.

    Reply

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