NO-to-RAPEThere’s been some “spirited” discussion lately about rape and how to prevent it and, in some cases, how the victims are re-victimized when they report being raped.  The very word rape is loaded with emotion that makes it often too difficult to discuss in a rational manner.

But if we don’t discuss our behavior in regard to rape then the situation will never change – the elephant is in the room but we’ll just move around it rather than face it.

I was raised by a mother that made it very clear what my behavior was supposed to be with women.  She drew me aside just before I left home for college and had these words for me, ”Frank, I want to know that you can always come home, no matter what.  But, if you ever get a girl in trouble, I’ll blow your head off.”  Those encouraging words from a woman that slept with a .38 Policeman Special under her pillow each night had a real impact on me.  In short, I believed her!

And I’m one of the lucky ones who has never had to deal with a rape to any one close to me.  But I can imagine the devastation that a rape would cause to anyone – if I didn’t, my wife and daughters would definitely straighten me out on the manner.

What I can’t understand is the justification of men who assault women.  While I might be bigger and stronger than any woman I associate with, it doesn’t give me the right or authority to impose my will on them.  I also don’t understand how you get off on dominating someone.  The last thing I want is a submissive partner – I’m definitely spoiled by a 42 year plus relationship with a woman who’s an equal partner and capable of making decisions on her own.

I remember the advice provided to me and every male staff member of the Naval Nuclear Power School when women were first introduced into the naval nuclear power program – after telling us to keep our doors open and having someone else present with conducting interviews with female students, CAPT Strum, our commanding officer, had this to say: “She may not win, but you will definitely lose.”  The message was clear – no manner what she did or didn’t do, we were expected to uphold a proper code of conduct.

And it may be very old fashion but I was expected to defend my sisters – and by extension, any girl or woman.  That means that standing by while someone is attacked or heading for a bad situation is not an option.  As one woman recently said, “If you see that I’m drunk or not thinking, then step in and say something.”  Silence is not a solution to any problem.  Unfortunately, too often everyone stands by and ignores the cries – we don’t want to get involved in something that’s personal – or messy.

And if the tragedy occurs, officials have to be sure that they don’t compound the tragedy by blaming the victim.  I don’t care if she kissed him, had him in her room, or parked on Rape Hill with him – NO is supposed to mean NO – and he should stop.  If he doesn’t, then the blame should be placed on him.

We don’t blame the football player Will Smith who was shot in a road rage incident – we blame the shooter.  Why do we blame the rape victim (“Well, she was wearing provocative clothing.”) when we don’t do that for any other crime?

There are courageous women who are leading the discussion about our attitudes toward rape victims – Elizabeth Smart is but one – but it’s the men who need to listen and step up to our responsibility.

Rape is not a woman problem – it’s a man problem – and men are the cure.

A physicist by trade, author by choice, a born teacher, a retired veteran, and an adamant problem solver, Frank has helped the White House, federal agencies, military offices, historical museums, manufacturers, and over 250 technology startups get stuff done, communicate effectively, and find practical solutions that work for them. In his spare time, he makes sawdust and watches Godzilla movies.