While the UT Police Department has offered scheduled Rape Aggression Defense classes for women twice a semester since 2001, RAD classes for men are only available upon request. There have only been two classes taught since UTPD began offering RAD for men in 2012.
The RAD Systems of Self Defense offer different self-defense programs nationally for children, adults and seniors, according to the RAD website. UTPD hosts 12-hour classes split over three days, which focus on risk avoidance for women and on controlling aggressive behavior for men.
UTPD detective David Chambers, a RAD instructor, said men are not allowed in the women’s classes and vice versa, and people can take the class as the gender they identify with. One reason for this separation is some attendees may be sexual assault survivors and would feel unsafe with a person of another gender in the class.
“In (RAD systems’) vision, it’s more likely going to be someone of the opposite sex for the women that’s going to be attacking them, so they don’t want to allow men into that program so they can see what a woman is going to do,” Chambers said. “They don’t want to train a potential attacker of what’s going to happen.”
Humanities sophomore Jack Higgins said it makes sense why the men’s classes are only available upon request, but it seems unfair, as men are still vulnerable to sexual assault.
“It seems like many men wouldn’t take it on request because they wouldn’t want to be the person requesting that. They might feel embarrassed,” Higgins said. “I would imagine one feeling that would lead people to not request it would be, ‘If I need to request it, it would make me less masculine, less of a man, I’m supposed to be able to defend myself, etc.’”
Chambers said he believes it is important for society to break the stigma that men cannot be victims or that it makes them less of a man if they are, but is unsure whether RAD classes for men would help accomplish that goal.
“I do believe that there’s a belief within the general culture that men aren’t going to be raped, men aren’t going to be attacked and men are these big burly people that can protect themselves against everything. And if you don’t, then you’re not a real man,” Chambers said. “If we’re not having the participants, (we need to find out) why we’re not having those participants and (address) that. If that leads to more RAD classes for men, then that’s the case.”
Historically, there has been little to no interest in RAD for men, said UTPD Lt. Laura Davis, who has been a RAD instructor for 18 years. People interested in the class can contact her, and the minimum number of participants for a class is 10.
Several male students, including Higgins, suggested more promotion would help pique the interest of men at UT.
“By further promoting it (and) advertising anonymity in it, like if you come to one of these classes, you don’t have to sign in or do something that might be a deterrent to … tak(ing) the class, (more men might be interested)” Higgins said. “I’d love to get some people together and get this started up again, because we could gain enough traction to be a standing class.”