Friday FREAK OUT! Nice-Guy-Gate

[TRIGGER WARNING for the topic of rape]

In the last few weeks in the feminist blogosphere a HEATED debate has emerged that started with an article posted on the Good Men Project titled, Nice Guys Commit Rape Too, written by Alyssa Royse.  This article tells the story of a ‘nice guy’ that commits an act of rape, and the author seeks to explore why/how it happened: “In order to get to that answer we need to first abolish the idea that all rape is about power and violence. It’s not. Some rape begins as the earnest belief that sex is going to happen, and that it should. The confusion starts with misreading socially accepted cues.”

In the aftermath of this article’s publication, there has ensued a series of responses, rebuttals, and other public outrage via social media.  Here is a sample of what you can find if you jump down the rabbit-hole of ‘nice-guy-gate’, in approximate chronological order:

11/30/12 Good Men Project: Nice Guys Commit Rape Too, by Alyssa Royse – the article that started it all.

12/1/12 Good Men Project: Nice Guys Commit Rape Too, A Response, by Matthew Salesses.

12/8/12 Feministe: What in holy hell is this, by Jill Filipovic.

12/10/12 Good Men Project: I’d Rather Risk Rape than Quit Partying, by ANONYMOUS. [this is the story of a self-identified rapist]

12/10/12 Feministe: And just when you thought the Good Men Project couldn’t get any worse, by Jill Filipovic.

12/10/12 Good Men Project: This is Why We Published a Rapist’s Story, by Joanna Schroeder.

12/10/12 The Soapbox: On Nice Guys as Rapists, by Amelia McDonnell Perry.

12/11/12 Why did the Good Men Project publish a blog by an unrepentant and unconvicted rapist? by Ally Fogg.

12/18/12 Why the ‘nice guys commit rape too’ conversation is not helpful, by Jill Filipovic.

12/??/12 Why I Left the GMP, by Ozy Frantz.

12/20/2012 Rapists Say They Rape Because of Mixed Signals and the Good Men Project Believes Them, by Amanda Marcotte.

Wow, there is a lot being said, and people are surely freakin out about it.  Myself included.  I have really struggled to wrap my head around all of the points being made, and how to frame this debate in a productive manner for myself.

One thing that I am reminded about as I have been digesting the myriad of viewpoints is that consent is an essential topic to cover in sexuality education.  Because it’s not enough just to tell someone, “don’t rape”.  As sexuality educators, we MUST teach participants…

  • What is consent?
  • What do you need consent for?
  • How is consent communicated?
  • How do you know if consent is given?
  • How do you know if consent is not given?
  • How do non-verbal cues affect the understanding of consent?
  • When is someone unable to give consent?

And I’m just getting started!  This is a challenging concept to both teach, and to learn.  As ‘students’, we learn different things about consent from our teachers, peers, the media, parents, religion, etc., and we rarely have an opportunity to truly examine and explore all of the nuances of communicating about consent in real life situations.  Sexuality education should be an opportunity for individuals to learn how to make healthy decisions about sexual activity that are 100% consensual.  (Stay tuned for a more in-depth post on consent in the future.)

I encourage sexuality educators to critically examine all sides of ‘nice-guy-gate’ in order to understand the scope of this controversy. It is also critical that we all send a clear message about the importance of consent, because surely we could all learn about bit more about it.

2 thoughts on “Friday FREAK OUT! Nice-Guy-Gate

  1. It goes to show that how we say things is as important as what we say. And it is not just words, the question of consent brings up the problem with a lack I words and the importance of communication. If you are afraid of “no”, maybe you already know the answer. Informed consent and a partner who wants to be with you is critical and the consequences are too large to not handle the complex and often awkward conversations.

  2. Thanks for this. I am the publisher of The Good Men Project, and at least partly the catalyst for this conversation. We in no way condone rape — and it’s horrible that we would even need to make that clear. But we do think there is a need to talk about consent in a multitude of ways. There is a need to talk about sexual assault in a multitude of ways. And there is a clear need to talk about what drinking does to consent and sexual relationships in a multitude of ways — especially on college campuses, where both men and women are starting to have these conversations. We’re very grateful the conversation has started — and has started with people who don’t usually talk about rape, people who don’t usually talk about consent on a societal level. That was the whole point.

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