Texas Blazers continues fight against rape culture

Ashley Liu

Justin Atkinson, committee leader of the MenCanEnd campaign, believes 90 percent of the University’s effort to end campus sexual assault is female and victim-oriented, whereas only 10 percent is directed toward the prevention of sexual assault.

“The energy should be going into giving education on how to navigate healthy sexual relationships,” government senior Atkinson said. “We can tell women to walk in packs and use rape whistles all day, but the problem won’t be solved until we can teach men how to behave. It’s not one or the other, it should be a 50-50 mix.”

MenCanEnd is a student initiative launched by the Texas Blazers that aims to promote healthy masculinity while combating rape culture on college campuses. Originally intended as a temporary project, the initiative garnered significant interest and became a permanent committee within Texas Blazers.

Atkinson said the high occurrence of sexual assault between UT students, shown by the recently released Cultivating Learning and Safe Environments survey, is perpetrated by the “stranger myth” in rape culture, which prevents self-reflection among male students.

“Mainstream media always portrays rape as strangers in the bushes,” Atkinson said. “In reality, 90 percent of the victims are raped by someone they know. This creates a good-guy-bad-guy dichotomy that allows people to distance themselves and say that ‘I’m a good guy, I would never do that.’”

According to the CLASE survey, only 1 percent of rape victims have reported to the UT Police Department. 

“I wonder if it’s because the police has a masculine overtone that make victims less inclined to report.” Atkinson said. “But rape is about the loss of power, and under Title IX, the University’s duty is to help victims restore their sense of self-power and agency.”

Astronomy freshman Yasmine Kem said she hopes the University takes more preemptive action against sexual assault.

“We hear survivor stories way more often than we hear about the aftermath of the offender,” Kem said. “This one-sided lens places the burden of the tragedy on the women rather than the man. We need to make the offenders carry the weight, not the victims.”

Kem said the school should use education as its main tactic in preventing sexual assault.

“We don’t necessarily have to shame every male student on campus,” Kem said. “But they should recognize that everyone has a responsibility in preventing sexual assault. The best way in achieving that is through education and raising awareness.”