One guy reaches out and grabs her arm. The other makes a split-second decision.

It's not about being a knight in shining armor. It's about doing what's right. Period.

Doing what's right means stopping sexual assault before it happens.

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When predators target people for abuse, they count on ordinary people — other guys in particular — doing nothing.

Which is why when we see something, fellow dudes, we have to do something. We have to make it known, under no uncertain terms, that this kind of behavior isn't macho or impressive, but that it's completely, 100% socially unacceptable.

This is called the "bystander approach," and it's really, really important.

Here's how it was defined by gender violence prevention educator Jackson Katz in an incredible talk that every person should watch at least once.


A bystander is defined as anybody who is not a perpetrator or a victim in a given situation, so in other words, friends, teammates, colleagues, coworkers, family members, those of us who are not directly involved in a dyad of abuse, but we are embedded in social, family, work, school, and other peer culture relationships with people who might be in that situation. What do we do? How do we speak up? How do we challenge our friends? How do we support our friends? But how do we not remain silent in the face of abuse? — Jackson Katz

Why do men in particular have to speak up?

When it comes to men and male culture, the goal is to get men who are not abusive to challenge men who are. And when I say "abusive," I don't mean just men who are beating women. We're not just saying a man whose friend is abusing his girlfriend needs to stop the guy at the moment of attack. That's a naive way of creating a social change. It's along a continuum. We're trying to get men to interrupt each other. So, for example, if you're a guy and you're in a group of guys playing poker, talking, hanging out, no women present, and another guy says something sexist or degrading or harassing about women, instead of laughing along or pretending you didn't hear it, we need men to say, "Hey, that's not funny. You know, that could be my sister you're talking about. And, could you joke about something else? Or, could you talk about something else? I don't appreciate that kind of talk." Just like if you're a white person and another white person makes a racist comment, you'd hope, I hope, that white people would interrupt that racist enactment by a fellow white person. Just like with heterosexism, if you're a heterosexual person and you yourself don't enact harassing or abusive behaviors towards people of varying sexual orientations, if you don't say something in the face of other heterosexual people doing that, then, in a sense, isn't your silence a form of consent and complicity? — Jackson Katz

Yes, yes it is.

When someone is the victim of sexual violence, it's not their responsibility to stop it, or be more careful, or fight back harder. It's our responsibility to make sure the culture we create and participate in is not one that excuses such violence in the first place.

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