In 2013, Steubenville, OH, captured the nation’s attention. We were appalled at the details: a high school girl repeatedly and publicly raped by her peers, all captured on video and shared on social media.
But perhaps even more horrifying was the exposure of a culture that, from beginning to end, operated to normalize, incite, sanction, and cover up sexual assault. We watched as video emerged of a teenage boy heartlessly joking about the girl who had been raped. While many dismissed him as a monster, we instead saw him as a product of a culture that normalizes violent attitudes and language towards women. In the video, he’s not alone. He’s just one part of a group of boys expressing their flawed—and dangerous—understanding of masculinity. At one point, two other boys who are off camera essentially intervene as bystanders. They call out the boy for being cruel…and they’re laughed off and dismissed as though they weren’t even there.
That’s when we realized that to truly change the outcomes for the 1 in 5 women who are raped in the United States, we’ll have to do the hard work of changing the culture that makes it possible. From the ground up.
We are organizers, academics, and activists bringing the full weight of our collective experience to helping communities normalize healthy masculinity, consent, and empathy.
Our mission: by engaging men and boys, we intend to break down the cultural norms that underpin rape and sexual assault.