Prevention methods for rape must focus on altering some of the attitudes and behaviors of both men and women.  Men and women who act out stereotypes often end up feeling trapped by the expectations of the role.  Assertive behaviors require that one assess their own true values and objectives and honestly express these feelings and opinions in a direct manner.

Women need to know:

Sex-role stereotypes of passivity, submissiveness and coyness are dangerous and can create a climate for sexual aggression.

Labeling women who are sexually active leads to assault and violence against women.

Encouraging men to regard any women as a sex object can backfire on them and result in rape.

Labeling men as studs, fags, etc. encourages dangerous sexual behavior among men.

Many women demand the same freedom that men have; they need and want other women’s support in their efforts to break out of traditional roles.

Men need to know that:

Rape is a crime of violence.  It is motivated by the desire to control and dominate, not by sex.

It is never acceptable to force a woman to have sex, even if they think she is teasing and leading them on, even if they’ve heard that girls say no but mean yes, even if they think it’s manly to use force to get their way, even if they feel physically they got to have sex.

Whenever force is used to have sex, it is rape and rape is a crime, even when the people involved know each other and have had sex with each other before.

Rape is sexual violence that no woman asks for.

Performing an undesirable act just to keep one’s friends thinking well of one is never justified.

In order to reduce the incidence of date rape:

Men need to:

Learn through honest exchange what their dates’ desires are and respect those desires.

Reject stereotypes that teach them to regard women as sex objects.

Understand that a woman can say no and mean it, and that questions of manhood are not at stake.

Know that women who appear sexy and seductive are asking for appreciation and affirmation of their attractiveness and are not inviting rape.

Consider asserting their right to enjoy getting taken care of.

Learn that although men in our society have more economic power than women, this should not translate into sexual power and does not entitle men to demand sex.

Women need to:

Say no when they mean no; say yes when they mean yes; stay in touch with their feelings to know the difference.

Believe in their right to express their feelings and learn how to do so assertively.

Be aware of stereotypes that prevent them from self-expression, such as anger is unfeminine; passivity is feminine; being polite, pleasant and quiet is feminine.

Understand what expectations the man might have if he is in charge of the date and learn to assert their own right to enjoy the good feelings of being in charge too.

Communicate their expectations and wishes verbally and non-verbally.

Understand that money implies power and control in our culture and that many men and women feel that money is a reasonable tradeoff for sex.

Behave assertively to achieve equality in their relationships with men.

People are often sexually assaulted by those known to them and trusted by them.  Since rape is committed mostly by men, it is ultimately men who are responsible for stopping sexual assault.  Women can take precautionary steps to avoid rape but the real prevention work must be done by men.

Kathleen O’Neill, Reclaiming our Lives: A Training Manual for those Victimized with Victims/Survivors of Sexual Assault in Massachusetts