IU students, community members discuss sexual violence, masculinity, consent

IU campus and community members met Monday night to discuss what it means to be a man and how to fight male stereotypes when they lead to sexual violence.

Dennis Daniels Jr., assistant director of the Office for Sexual Violence Prevention and Victim Advocacy, said awareness of these issues is the first step toward change.

“Conversations about consent and helping representations of masculinity are part of how we can empower the community in general to be a part of a movement that promotes those values,” he said.

IU’s Office for Sexual Violence Prevention and Victim Advocacy partnered with the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life and the Office of International Services to facilitate a discussion about the topics at the William Godfrey Graduate and Executive Education Center.

MenChallenging co-founder Joe Samalin facilitated the event. MenChallenging is a campaign aimed at creating awareness among men and boys about sexual violence.

“There are a lot of guys now, globally and nationally and locally, who know about the issue more than ever before,” Samalin said. “But we’re not near tipping point yet, even with the #MeToo movement, et cetera, of really creating a cultural shift or change on this issue.” 

The attendees discussed and mapped out traditional characteristics of masculinity, elements of consent and different social pressures and how to fight them.

They shared their own experiences of their first exposures to masculine stereotypes and examined how ongoing pressure on men to be sexually adept can lead to an increase in sexual violence. Building off these discussions, they brainstormed ways to change that culture.

Samalin said it is important to change the culture on college campuses by starting discourse within the communities that need it most.

“We know that it happens everywhere and can happen in any context or community or culture, and it does,” he said. “We also know that it happens more in certain places.”

Sophomore Max Masterson, vice president of membership development for the Interfraternity Council, said greek life is under a microscope in relation to sexual violence, and he hopes to take lessons he learned Monday back to IFC to help it grow and improve. 

“It’s unfortunate that it happens, but to start changing that association, we have to have dialogue,” he said.

Samalin said he hopes he brought the ideas of healthy masculinity and affirmative consent to the forefront of the attendees' minds.

“It’s really that awareness piece, to be able to kind of analyze masculinity on campus and in yourself,” Samalin said. “Find out what the harmful pieces of what it means to be a man might be, and do something about it.”

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