Rape Aggression Defense program was never for men

I’ve been auditing the Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) Systems implementation on Kennesaw State University (KSU) since January.

On July 1, 5:00 p.m. EST, I attended Resisting Aggression with Defense for Men (RFM). RFM is a men’s self-defense program implemented at KSU in 2012, ten years after its women-only counterpart. RFM took place in the University Room of the James Carmichael Student Center, which is where the upcoming KSUM conference will be held. Three cops were in attendance, plus four men, including myself and the KSUM Secretary. The cops were not the best teachers, but they were professional and kind as individuals.

I cannot say much about the presentations because RFM was cancelled after the second class had met but before that same class had ended. RAD Systems requires at least four participants, so they pulled the plug when only two people attended the second meeting (including myself). Not even KSUM’s Secretary returned due to his disgust with the content.

Trudi Vaughan, Georgia State Director of RAD, and a trainer at KSU (complete with a shady history), served as a contact for several unproductive months. I was prompted to investigate RFM after I read Vaughan’s statements about RFM in The Sentinel (KSU’s paper):

[RFM] focuses a lot on what your responsibilities are as a man. […] When women say ‘no,’ it doesn’t mean ‘no until you talk me into it’; it means no. […] Typically males are raised to always stand up and fight. […] The whole educational aspect of this is letting them know that it’s okay to make a better choice, a better decision.

Non-Normative Anti-Assimilationists pressured KSU to install RFM, but this does not mean RAD Systems was interested in helping men. The founder, Lawrence Nadeau, wrote the following introduction in the RFM manual:

In all honesty, this program would not exist if it did not benefit the R.A.D. programs for Women. The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) has clearly stated that institutions offering R.A.D. programs for women must have a like offering for men. So to continue meeting the needs of women at educational institutions, we as an organization must address the safety needs of men attending those same institutions. This high quality program will in my opinion, never reach the lofty status that the R.A.D. programs for Women have, but it will, simply by existing, perpetuate the growth of our network and it’s destiny driven programming for women.

The founder says to men that RAD for Men is for women, and that RFM’s existence is obligatory, given a statement by the OCR.

To be fair, there are two positive aspects to the RFM manual.

One, it states that violence is not just a women’s problem by making solid references to male victimization.

RAD for Men Violence is not just a womens problem

Two, it has a gender-neutral definition of rape, assuming you do not care about the order in which the words her and his appear (I personally don’t).

RAD For Men Rape definition

This is great, but these positives do not redeem RAD Systems for several reasons.

First, the statistics were from dated sources such as the 2002 FBI Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) and a 1997 publication of The Commonwealth Fund Survey of the Health of Adolescent Girls. The cops said they “just teach what RAD gives them,” which means KSU’s 2012 introduction of RFM included content that went without updates for years. RFM was founded ten years after the women’s course only after students pressured security, so would RFM ever have existed if KSU students had stayed silent? And given Nadeau’s comments, were the facts reported because RAD cared or because RAD had to be pressured? I cannot answer these questions, but it is my opinion after six months of research and correspondence that RAD Systems is not compassionate enough to (re)invest in the well-being of men.

Second, the neutral rape definition is legally worthless. When I had my only chance to photograph other RAD manuals via an open records request (a state right granted to me that was later deemed to be in contention with federal copyright law), I could only take so many shots before my battery died. A page in the RAD instructor’s manual also had a fair definition of rape, but that same page refers instructors to definitions of crimes in state codes.

KSU RAD Manual, state code on rape

In Georgia, rape is defined as follows (O.C.G.A. § 16-6-1):

(a) A person commits the offense of rape when he has carnal knowledge of:

(1) A female forcibly and against her will; or

(2) A female who is less than ten years of age.

Carnal knowledge in rape occurs when there is any penetration of the female sex organ by the male sex organ. The fact that the person allegedly raped is the wife of the defendant shall not be a defense to a charge of rape.

(b) A person convicted of the offense of rape shall be punished by death, by imprisonment for life without parole, by imprisonment for life, or by a split sentence that is a term of imprisonment for not less than 25 years and not exceeding life imprisonment, followed by probation for life. Any person convicted under this Code section shall, in addition, be subject to the sentencing and punishment provisions of Code Sections 17-10-6.1 and 17-10-7.

(c) When evidence relating to an allegation of rape is collected in the course of a medical examination of the person who is the victim of the alleged crime, the law enforcement agency investigating the alleged crime shall be responsible for the cost of the medical examination to the extent that expense is incurred for the limited purpose of collecting evidence. 

Legally, only men rape, so sayeth the Patriarchy. Regardless of the definitions it presents, a RAD course follows the host state.

Finally, the propaganda throughout the manual dwarfs all aforementioned positive aspects. RAD Systems is protective of its copyright, so I cannot distribute the entire manual without having a gavel shoved sideways up my ass. Still, you deserve quotes in context. To appease the gods of fair use and journalism, let us close with commentary that addressed RAD’s endorsement of the White Ribbon Campaign, RAD’s citation of the 1-in-4 statistic, and RAD’s take on rape culture.

I finally found the “responsibilities” mentioned in The Sentinel:

After a brief email discussion with the Board of Regents, KSU has autonomy in terms of program funding. For that reason, I have turned to research alternative self-defense companies with which universities can do business. The findings will be presented to KSU administration, alongside a long-overdue request for basic respect for both men and women, and nothing else.

This is not over.

KSUM is the first AVfM-sponsored men’s rights student organization, and it works on missions like these to correct institutional corruption on campus. KSUM needs your help to fund a conference on educational equity issues affecting male students. If everyone reading this donated $1 every hour, KSUM will reach its goal today. Will you part with just one dollar to put men’s rights on campus?

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