The right kind of rape awareness project?

I truly believe [rape] is a problem that transcends gender.

     Kelly Kendziorski, producer of “Yeah, maybe no

I and others have tried to add notoriety to TLAs and NGOs for heavily couching or distorting their statements on rape and domestic violence against men, when they let them through at all.

When I found Yeah, maybe no. at Reddit and saw the project, I was not excited. Readers, forgive me, but I’ve watched the rise of The Good Men Project (which should be called the feminist-approved man project) and sat through countless refrains of “feminism helps men too” and then my jaded eyes read through this:

One of the most unique aspects of this film is that it focuses on sexual violence from a male perspective. In working with a man, I had to cut out a lot of language that relied on negative stereotypes of men and women and focus on the nature of the violence itself. Stepping out the “violence against women” box allows for a deeper examination of the power dynamics present in intimate-partner violence and shows how there are more similarities than differences between male and female survivors.

I still got the general impression that the director wanted to go around asking men what it felt like to rape someone. It wasn’t long before I found some confirmation, in a comment about someone accused of domestic violence but whose alleged victim dropped the case:

“Thanks! That is so sad. He was my new favorite, but it’s hard to be into someone being taken to court for DV. :(“

What she tweeted later, though, compelled me to reach out to her:

People who are victimized by women are so much less likely to speak out and be believed.

When invited, she came to Reddit to discuss her project, and said she’s willing to include the perspective of a man (or men) who has been raped.

I’m hoping that my film can help others who have been in that situation. I’ve been open about my own experience with sexual violence for a while, and for whatever reason, it’s a man talking about his experience that I relate to the most. It has challenged me to change my default language when talking to be more honest about the fact that violence happens to people regardless of their gender. As I mentioned, I didn’t go into this project looking to make a comment on identity politics, but I met a man who was open and honest with me, and I’m doing my best to share his story in a way that helps people who have also been there.

In the course of making it, I’ve had a number of men talk to me privately about their experience and thank me for making this film. It opened my eyes to the difficulty they have in talking about violence. This is a really complicated topic with a lot of fear and anger swirling around it. Sexual trauma is a huge problem, and the justice system often does more harm than good. I don’t think my film can solve all these problems, but I hope it can be a resource to help make things better for people who have to live through the experience of sexual violence.

So I asked about the one thing that would make it a much more valuable project for us to support.

If you had a man coming forward to discuss his experience as a rape victim of a woman, would you have room in your film – or an important, promoted followup – for the segment?

And she said yes:

Yes. And if you know someone, send them my way. Trust is super important for me when making a film, so I don’t like to aggressively seek specific demographics. It’s a sensitive topic and it’s important that no one feels like their story is being exploited. However, I’m more than happy to use my skills and platform to work with someone who wants to share their story of being victimized by a woman. I truly believe this is a problem that transcends gender.

So I hope she finds the right interview. True, verifiable (enough), and with someone willing & articulate enough to tell the important part of the rape dynamic that we know is usually omitted.

She also mentioned, in addition to her indiegogo project, another Indiegogo project “focusing on male victims of childhood sex abuse with two men and one woman producing. Not quite the same, but I’m sure they’d appreciate some support as well.” Ocala on Indiegogo also looks promising. In my opinion, that wasn’t the act of someone grabbing for money, but of someone who really wanted to help raise awareness. I also hope she gets the financial support that her documentary needs in order to finish the project.

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