Fantasizing About New Men

Walk a mile in her shoes

Walk a mile in her shoes

by  @ Ms Magazine

Dear Men:

Here is a new kind of fantasy. It is about a new kind of man.

These men are born on the campus of an Ivy League college in New England. Or at a West Coast university. Or maybe at a football-happy school on the Great Plains.

These men talk to each other. They order pizza, play fantasy football, share their feelings and do not make fun of each other for this. Mostly, they talk about the men who behave badly, who rape the women on campus, who threaten the women in online blog posts by creating a “rape guide” instructing other men how to rape specific women.

These New Men are, quite frankly, appalled. When the women activists on campus are shouting, demanding justice, they stand among them. They shout. They, too, demand justice. 

They begin to see with chilling clarity that these rapacious and violent guys are giving their gender a bad name. They read The Vagina Monologues. They watch The Invisible War. They talk to their women friends. They learn that one out of five women on campus will experience sexual assault and that fewer than 5 percent of completed or attempted rapes of college women are reported to law enforcement (compared to 40 percent in the general population). They reckon with this over coffee. They reckon with this all through the weekend. They meet at night in the library study rooms. They take notes. They develop a new Guy Code.  They email their mothers this new Guy Code to test it out. To see if it passes muster. These New Men have gobs of respect for their mothers and sisters and grandmothers and women professors and the women who work in the cafeteria.

The mothers are pleased. “Go for it,” they tell their sons. “Why not you?” one says, quoting the father of the young football quarterback who won the Superbowl. “About time,” sighs one grandma.

Men protest rape in New Delhi

Men protest rape in New Delhi

So the men get busy. They start with the frat parties. Gently, whenever they see another guy coercing a drunk young woman to move to an upstairs bedroom, they call that guy over, slap an arm around his shoulder, and say, “Hey, dude, let’s get another beer and chat. Leave her alone. She’s wasted. Can’t be messin’ with a wasted woman. That’s rape. Right, pal? That’s rape, and guys like us don’t rape.”

At first, things go well. Some guys are ready to hear the message. They had never thought about what they were doing as rape; it was just hooking up. Once their eyes were opened, they experienced a new feeling: remorse. They talked this through with the New Men, who listened and did not shame them, and soon they joined the ranks of the New Men.

Some guys, of course, could not hear the New Men at first. These were the harder cases. They made excuses—short skirts, asking for it, no means yes. But the New Men prevailed simply because their message was clear and consistent and because by now there were a preponderance of New Men.

Hardest of all were the recidivists, the guys who rape, rape again, and then again—about six times on average [pdf] for the college rapist. Fact is, the women almost never report, and when they do, no one believes them or they get such a hassle that they let the whole thing drop. Guys who rape live to see another day, another rape. For these guys, the New Men hone their strategy. They seek out the repeat offenders, befriend them, pretend to go along with their crude jokes in order to garner  trust. Then they go all intervention on the guy. Tell him that he is making other guys look bad.

New Man Fighting for Women

New Man Fighting for Women

“You can hear no,” the New Men say, “and survive.”

“You can ask a girl who is not drunk if she wants to have sex with you, but you must wait for her to say ‘yes’—a resounding and audible ‘yes’—before you proceed.”

The rapists squirm and hurl vulgarities. They take a swing, but the New Men outnumber them. They’re forced to listen.

“You love your mom?” the New Men ask. “You love your little sister? When you have a little girl someday, you will not want her to meet someone like you at a party. So why not be the man you would like your daughter to meet at a party?”

The New Men stare at the rapist. The rapist either stares back or looks down.

“We do not need to force women to sleep with us just because we can,” the New Men continue. “Being strong is not about hurting people. It is about protecting people. You can be your better self, dude. You can ask a woman if she would like to be with you. And you can have the courage to hear her say ‘No, thank you.’ And then you can walk away. And your dignity walks with you.”

“We know,” say the New Men, “that some media tells you to take what you want without permission. We know that some guys on your team pat you on the back when you get laid. We know that most universities turn a blind eye. We know that your chances of being charged or jailed are mighty slim—but, damn, bro, this is a moment to take stock.  Rape is a choice you do not have to make.”

Jon Stewart fighting for women

Jon Stewart fighting for women

The New Men tackle the sports teams next. Then the coaches. Then the professoriate and administration. They challenge all men to be better men. They meet Barack Obama and congratulate him on his willingness to step up.  They venture to Dartmouth and get the administration to shut down the website that hosts incendiary texts like the “Rape Guide.” They visit Steubenville to talk to the benighted folks there. They pilgrimage to AmherstEmersonSwarthmore  and Occidental colleges. They make it to all 41 colleges under federal investigation for mishandling sexual assault cases. They visit elementary, middle and high schools to urge anti-rape education.

They become fathers who raise sons who do not rape. They raise daughters who are interested in New Men. They change the world, because they can.

Reposted with permission from the Ms. Magazine Blog.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on May 16, 2014, in feminism, men, rape and sexual assault, sexism, violence against women, women and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 44 Comments.

  1. “You can ask a girl who is not drunk if she wants to have sex with you, but you must wait for her to say ‘yes’—a resounding and audible ‘yes’—before you proceed.”

    Girls don’t talk like that and will figure you a desperate creep if you ask “Do you want to have sex with me?”

    They will never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever say yes if you approach like that.

  2. Hayley Epstein

    I wanted to comment on this because it got me thinking about some of the guys that I know personally. Unfortunately, I have not very many “new men”. I have met a lot of men that are opposed to rape and that most certainly do not support it and would never do it. However, I do feel like it is a little rare to find a guy that is willing to go up to other guys and tell them that they should not have sex with a girl because she’s drunk. A lot of the guys that I know also get defensive when the subject is brought up, claiming that “not all guys” are like this. However, what they don’t realize, is that we know not all guys are like this! What we want is the guys that are not like this to stand by women and support the cause against rape. Unfortunately, I feel like a lot of these guys don’t feel like it is their problem. Often times, guys have this “guy code” thing, where they can’t stop each other from having sex. I feel like a lot of guys wouldn’t want to go up to their guy friend and tell them not to go have sex, because they are “supposed” to be doing the opposite. I love to read these comments which say that people are meeting more and more of these new men, however, I am sad to say that I have seen a lot of by standers when it comes to men that don’t agree with rape. Especially with the whole gray area of how drunk a girl is or is not. This allows these men to be even more accepting of their friends going off with a drunk girl. What I wonder is how we are supposed to get these guys who don’t rape to feel like it is an issue worth while for them to work on. I want to think that this would not be very hard to do. I wonder why it is getting better or what society is doing right to make more of these guys pop up, because I think there is definitely still a pressure to not be like these guys.

    • We are in a time of transition right now. One third of men described themselves as feminist. So that is a lot of new men. But most of them don’t, And you run into them more often. And sometimes people are just fearful and don’t act even when they know they should.

      Overall, violence against women has gone down quite a bit as feminism has risen, creating more respect for women, and valuing the more.

  3. I’m extremely happy to say that I’ve been meeting more and more men like this. It’s really heartening to be able to discuss these things with them calmly without them getting defensive and feeling like they’re being attacked, and then to see them call out other men on instances of sexism. There is a really good group of men out there, but there still isn’t enough and I hope that one day these traits of the “new men” will be the norm.

  4. While this sounds simple enough, and is quite ideal, I don’t see this as entirely possible. When people look back to their more reckless college years, no one will want to say “Remember that time we had a salad?” When people share stories about when they were younger, they want to talk about what was expected to happen during college, great stories for this society begin with, “Remember that time we had alcohol?” or sports or cars. Guys are overwhelmingly expected to be into cars, women, and money so any past stories have to be focused around one of those subjects. Anyone who shares a story of the march or event they helped run will come off as pretentious or snobbish with too much time on their hands and not knowing how to enjoy life. Our society has been built on a foundation of bullying and preventing change. Each time there is a rape, shooting, or white collar crime, people always vow to prevent it from happening again, and it always has and will happen again. Our society is little more than a hegemony with the most powerful telling us what our stories should be about and what actions we should be taking. It just so happens that the most powerful are, white, male, and heterosexual.

    • At the same time, things are getting better. We are less racist, sexist, and homophobic that our grandparents were. And guys can have great stories without harming women.

  5. I would like to personally meet these new men, and congratulate them on being the better man. I know quite a few guys in college who like to take advantage of girls when they’re drunk, and take them to a quiet place, where unfortunate things happen to girls. I’m usually the one who stops my friend, I usually make excuses in situations like this, like having them both accompany me to get food, or chat with them, get them stuck in a conversation, which sways his thoughts away from sexual crimes he might commit. These men I know, don’t do this as often as most do, but when it does happen, I go out of my way to stop them. I then later, the day after, tell them in a not so offending way, that it’s wrong to take advantage of women when they’re in that state of mind, under the influence of alcohol. They always come up with the excuse that their actions were caused by loneliness, in sexual desire.

  6. This article was so heartening to read, especially because I’ve been following the #yesallwomen tag on twitter and I think that this is exactly the outcome the women speaking out are looking for. Someone made the point that he sees more complaints than solutions from the tag and I feel that these “New Men” are the solution that the majority of women are looking for to address the issue of violence and harassment. From what I observed from men (just from the #yesallwomen tag on twitter) it seemed a lot of them became defensive and immediately dismissed the issue, declaring that they feel they are being attacked and that not all men are rapists and harass women. I wish they could read this article and realize that that’s not the point. That they shouldn’t dismiss the issue as not applying to them and feel complacent because they are not a rapist and do not harass women, and instead take a stand and fix the issue of “rape culture” at its root.

  7. I think it’s a nice thing that these New Men are being noticed. The culture of rape is an ugly construct that should be curbed. It seems completely alien to me to actually believe ‘no means yes’ or other nonsense like that. And I’ve never been drunk enough to understand that state of mind.

    However, I think the introduction to this article is rather ridiculous. I can’t imagine women fantasizing about New Men as a concept; as someone who falls into this category and even beyond into the realm of unhealthy altruism, my experience with women has been less than successful. I consider myself to be funny, intelligent (and, more relevant to the article) respectful, supportive and egalitarian. But apparently it takes more than a New Man to fulfill whatever fantasy woman *really* harbor.

    • Well, they’re not necessarily fantasizing about having sex with these guys. They’re fantasizing about living in a world with these guys. Hopefully all meant to be like this. But of course, personal taste varies from person to person.

  8. I think this is such a great group of men!! When girls are drunk, they can hardly either resist or express their feelings. For this reason, girls can be easily raped by some guys in clubs or parties simply because the drunk girls are out of mind. Some people justify this kind of rape by saying that girls should have been careful when they drink alcohol. However, it is not fair to say that girls are the one who need to take responsibilities of being drunk and raped. Don’t they have the rights to even being drunken and enjoying the excitement given by alcohol? In this aspect, what this new group of men is doing is really good that they ask men not to rape but to appeal girls in rights ways.

  9. The birth of the new kind of men is really great and glad! I was wondering how we could decrease the percentage of rape. Even if Obama makes the law for rape stricter, I think this cannot work effectively because many people consider it very lightly. However, the new men that are same sex can work more efficiently because they can be in the situation that another man tries to hook up (rape) a girl. In this theory, I guess they may feel guilt more seriously if they think if they have their young sisters or daughters. In my opinion, people should know the existence of the new men for themselves especially who often rape women despite the fact that the women say NO.

  10. Shahin Larhnimi

    This is something that is highly appreciated by all women, that men are taking a stand with us against sexual assault and they are recognizing the bigger issue. These New Men gives me hopes for humanity, they have some type of emotions and show respect for women that a lot of men don’t. A lot of men seek the opportunity to have sex with women whether it is going against their moral or not, and yet some believe that they’re not doing anything wrong. Social events are always going to be a place where rapists can ‘score’ and they know that there’s at least going to be one woman that is drunk and unconscious and they often don’t care if she will consent to it or not. I have actually argued the same as it was quoted, “You love your mom?” the New Men ask. “You love your little sister? When you have a little girl someday, you will not want her to meet someone like you at a party. So why not be the man you would like your daughter to meet at a party?” For some stupid reason, rapists can’t keep in the back of their mind that what they’re doing can and will most likely happen to someone that they hold close. It should be obvious that what they’re doing, as Vanessa said; Having something happen like this to a mother or daughter is tragic, but some men still choose to take advantage of a woman that is likely to be another persons daughter.
    And another thing that confuses me is if men even think about or if they’re smart to know the difference between a hookup or rape at this point. It seems like ‘hookups’ would be an excuse for rape as it is harsher word and is victimized.
    Bottom line, we do need more “New Men” that can spread their support and try to influence other men that have a harder time understanding the effects of rape.

  11. This is really great. However, i still see a lot of young men taking advantage of girls who are drunk at parties. I’d like to think that this number of men are getting smaller and smaller. I also think there is a lot of peer pressure from guys in fraternities to have sex with as many women as possible. But I hope more young men start having this mindset. Having sex with a drunk girl doesn’t make you cool. it in fact, makes you a rapist.

  12. I loved this.I think these new men are more and more becoming the norm. I like the idea of encouraging men to be the kind of guys they would want their daughters to meet. Anyone that has a mother, sister, daughter, female friend or woman in their life they care about should remember that being a new man creates a better world for the women they care about. A society where taking advantage of a drunk woman is seen as totally unacceptable will eventually benefit someone they care about.

  13. Vanessa Medel

    “You love your mom?” the New Men ask. “You love your little sister? When you have a little girl someday, you will not want her to meet someone like you at a party. So why not be the man you would like your daughter to meet at a party?”

    This is something that a lot of men seem to forget when they decide to take advantage of a girl while she is intoxicated. They have their mind set on the idea of sex but fail to realize the harm it can cause. Having something happen like this to a mother or daughter is tragic, but some men still choose to take advantage of a woman that is likely to be another persons daughter. Th “New Men” are the men that woman dream about because many men have set bad examples and stereotypes for men. If more men were like this, it’s more likely for them to have woman running to them rather than them going after women. Men who are respectful from the start will be respectful throughout relationships as well.

  14. “On the other hand let’s say that she has had a few drinks and doesn’t have her wits about her and cannot give consent. But the guy thinks that she does and has sex with her.”

    I think the problem is deep down guys know she isn’t with it and don’t care or they see it as opportunity to take advantage of her and coerce her into sex.

    I don’t know, but I can tell when a girl has her wits with her and one who doesn’t. Though, wouldn;t have sex with a drunk girl, but if you’re having a one night stand with a girl at bar or party there’s a good chance she’s had a few drinks though. And people have difference tolerance too. A girl who never drinks can have just one drink and be drunk while another girl many drinks and not be drunk.

    What about when the girl has her wits about her and she is sexually aggressive and initiates? You’ll see this sometimes with girls who become assertive and horny when drunk and try to coerce the guy into sex. Like I said the girl I met at the party initiated sex and wanted the one night stand with me, I never brought it up.

  15. I like the idea of the New Men and hope alot are true with their intentions, but always be aware of a Wolf in Sheep’s clothing.

  16. This was a lovely read. I like to think this is happening, although some of those New Men just can’t handle all that. What I mean is, they don’t want anything to do with the other men because they’re disgusted with how they act. I know a few guys like that.

  17. I certainly like the mind-set of the ‘new man’ described in the blog and hope they will become the norm instead of the exception.

    With regards to sex while intoxicated, both men and women need to be cognitive of their actions and consequences. If a guy gives a girl a ‘mickey’ in her drink, then it’s definitely rape. If she’s been drinking on her own accord and willingly goes to the upstairs room, I don’t think it’s as clear cut. It reminds me of when I was in law school and studying criminal law. If a person commits a crime while intoxicated, they cannot use that as a defense. They cannot say I was drunk or stoned, was unaware of my actions, and so I am not guilty nor did i have the necessary intent as a result.

    While the two are not the same, there are some similarities. People need to know and understand that when they are in an altered state, things can happen. Maybe, at least, there is some contributory negligence in this case.

    Personally, I wouldn’t want to have sex with a drunk or drugged woman because, for me, sex involves an intimacy that should be both shared and savored. But high school and college kids still have some maturing to do in many ways…

    • I don’t see the correlation at all. Someone can’t commit a crime and then say, Well I was drunk. So a guy shouldn’t be able to get out of raping “because he was drunk.” Because rape is a crime, And there is no excuse for crime.

      But getting drunk is not a crime so why should a girl deserve punishment, right?

      Just because you have been drinking doesn’t give other people a right to rape you. I can’t even imagine how it makes sense.

      • I think the issue here is one of consent, ie. whether a woman gave consent to a sexual relationship. At what point is there no consent? If a person has a drink is there consent? After three drinks is there consent? After six drinks? At what point can one legally say a woman is not giving consent?

      • There’s a difference between having a drink and being drunk.

      • I did not say you can use being drunk as an excuse for rape. Rape is a crime, and being intoxicated is not a legal defense. If you kill someone or rob a bank while intoxicated, that is not a defense.

      • You can’t use being drunk to commit a crime. But you can’t use someone else being drunk as an excise to rape, either.

  18. I had a girl I met and was hitting on at a party a few years ago, and she wanted sex with me. I ended up not doing so that night, not because she was drunk, but because I liked her and didn’t want to be like the other guys. But she was drunk but not that drunk and definitely talked fine and was aware of everything just like I am when drunk. I talked to her the next day and she was definitely aware and remembed the stuff that happened that night.

  19. “They start with the frat parties. Gently, whenever they see another guy coercing a drunk young woman to move to an upstairs bedroom, they call that guy over, slap an arm around his shoulder, and say, “Hey, dude, let’s get another beer and chat. Leave her alone. She’s wasted. Can’t be messin’ with a wasted woman. That’s rape. Right, pal? That’s rape, and guys like us don’t rape.”

    Ok, I agree too many guys try to take advantage of a girl who is sloppy drunk and wasted and stumbling around and passing out, etc. And think that’s bad and creepy, etc and haven’t and wouldn’;t do that. I hope the new men aren’t making it like guys having sex with a drunk woman or drunk women are raping her or rapists. Because most bars, parties you are going to have girls having drinks so many are going to be a be inebriated to some degree or buzzed or a little drunk. Yet guys have sex with these women and get them to have sex and these women consent and can consent. I had sex with my gf who was fairly drunk, but I was too after a halloween night party, but I wasn’t that drunk and had my wits about me and she did too and she showed her interest.

    I guess it depends on some people. Some people are not very perceptive, but I’ve been very drunk before where it seems like things are spinning. But even with slurred speech, I’ve always been aware of people and things and what I’m doing even when that drunk and I remember and can recall the previous night. So whatever happened to me that night would not be against my consent, because I knew what was going on and could say no and remember the day after. some people I guess black out or they can get sloppy drunk and not remember much from the previous night. It’s never been that way for me. This doesn’t mean I think a man should try something with a drunk or sloppy drunk girl as I don’t think thats right. But I’m just saying there’s a line, I think unfortunately some frat guys know these girls are so drunk that their consent is impaired which is a problem. But there are many girls who are drunk but not wasted and very aware of things and can and are definitely able to consent and sometimes initiate sex. I’m aware of this and can see, so I assume this new man isn’t talking about drunk women in general but the wasted women and not the buzzed or somewhat drunk women.

    • Better to be safe than sorry.

      When a woman is drunk it can be difficult to tell how much she has her wits about her. So let’s consider the possibility of error under a couple of different scenarios.

      Let’s say she has had a few drinks but still has her wits about her and could give consent, but the guy doesn’t have sex with her because it’s not clear that she can give consent. What happens? He doesn’t get sex that night. But he might get sex another night. And she might appreciate that he cared about her enough to wait until she could clearly give consent.

      On the other hand let’s say that she has had a few drinks and doesn’t have her wits about her and cannot give consent. But the guy thinks that she does and has sex with her. In this case he was wrong as she did not and could not give consent. The fallout? He may be reported as a rapist. That could get him in trouble with the police, And his reputation even if he isn’t convicted. And she has been traumatized. Women who have been traumatized by rape often lose interest in sex, entirely. So he can forget about having sex with her later when she is not drunk. (And he can forget about having sex with other women who have been similarly traumatized.) She may hate him, resent him. She can feel anxiety and depression, and experience physical symptoms that go along with that. Some women experience post-traumatic stress after rape.

      It’s not worth making that error.

      • Actually it may not be as black and white. In a case where a guy is tried for an alleged rape, no witnesses or any evidence pointing in a particular direction, and just one word against the other the jury has no choice but to resort to reasoning and common sense. Any verdict may not necessarily be given in favour of the woman. If no consent was given from her perspective, how does she really know if she was too drunk to remember anything in the first place? Or that she gave one but doesn’t remember? Or did she give away hints that most people would interpret as a positive even if that was not her intention?
        Even if a true rape happened, the jury can’t assume that and has to reason their way trough until an opinion has been reached, based on statements from both.

        Responsibiity for own actions apply to everyone and they may both have to assume responsibility for for any “misconduct” carried out when drunk, unless there are some witnesses that can provide a clear perspective on what happened.

      • Well, that’s exactly why it’s better to err on the side of caution.

        If a woman is not too drunk to consent, but a guy doesn’t have sex with her, what’s the outcome? She will probably like him more because he respected her. And not being able to have him could make her want him more.

        If he erred the other way such that a woman was too drunk to consent, and he had sex with her, What’s the outcome? Women who are raped experience anxiety and depression. She will never want to have sex with him again. He could get a rape charge.

        It’s really not that big of a deal to choose not to have sex with a woman who appears to be possibly drunk. And not worth it to err on the side of possibly committing rape.

        No, she shouldn’t get drunk. But much more importantly, he shouldn’t risk raping her. Getting drunk isn’t the worst thing in the world, or anywhere near it. Raping someone is one of the worst things in the world.

  20. Yes! Love these New Men. I am meeting more and more of them in real life and I have a feeling there will be even more in the next generation.

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