What Should Men Do To Help Prevent Sexual Assault? This CSU Group Has An Answer

October 8, 2018
Photo: Kavanaugh Protest Oct. 6 - AP
People protest on the steps of the Supreme Court after the confirmation vote of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, on Capitol Hill, Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018 in Washington.

The newest Supreme Court justice, Brett Kavanaugh, was sworn in late Saturday, but his confirmation doesn’t end the conversation around sexual assault allegations. 

Over the weekend, President Trump called accusations against Kavanaugh "fabrications." The president has also said, “It’s a very scary time to be a young man in America when you can be guilty of something that you may not be guilty of.”

Colorado Matters talked with two young men with a different view. Carl Olsen is a coordinator and William Rowsam is a student member with Men in the Movement. The organization is at Colorado State University in Fort Collins and works to end gender-based violence.

Interview Highlights

Carl Olsen on the importance of teaching men to practice vulnerability:

"I think one of the things that’s key to this process is the ability for men to be vulnerable, not just to ourselves, but with each other. One of the things that constantly comes up when we talk about what it means to be a man today is that we’re supposed to be stoic or emotionless, with the exception of feeling anger. And so we try to challenge the students who engage in the program to practice vulnerability because, often in our lives, it’s been beaten out of us. And so thinking about that as a key to building empathy and humanizing ourselves and thus humanizing others, and thus preventing sexual assault. Because it’s really difficult to rape someone if you recognize their humanity. And that’s part of the philosophy of Men in the Movement."

William Rowsam on the problems he's experienced in frat culture:

"When I first came to college, I was definitely very involved in the frat culture. I would go to parties with the goal to pick up a woman or try to advance sexually with an individual. And that would be the entire goal of going out that night. And it would often involve alcohol and underage drinking. So taking a step back and looking now, 'What were my intentions? Why were my intentions that way? Who were the people around me helping me continue that thought process in what I was trying to do and who was also involved in doing similar things? And why was it problematic? What harm could have been cased? What harm was caused?'"

Carl Olsen on Trump's comment that it's "a very scary time to be a young man":

"I think it’s scary for a certain type of dude. I have confidence that my Men in the Movement guys aren’t going to rape. They understand what consent means and how it works. So it’s interesting to parse out the type of man who is scared at this time and, to me, it’s hard to think it’s not a good thing because if you’re scared, then maybe you’ll be more careful about your actions."