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We have greatly appreciated your support and interest. We are pleased to announce that we now have a new website to provide better content and hopefully a more creative space to promote opportunities for you to join us as a part of the solution to end sexual violence. Please find us at our new site at KCManUp.org.

    



Silence Is NOT Golden

A lot has been written of the Penn State and Syracuse Child Sexual Abuse scandals and I know that several several sports fans around the country have been taken aback by these stories. Media, including ESPN, has done a pretty good job covering them, although some of the language of their reporting has been misleading. But one thing that continues to bother me is how quick we are to move on with our lives and, in doing so, miss an opportunity to prevent something like this from happening to those we care about in our communities. Or as Larry Cohen of Prevention Institute puts it, "we standby rather than stand up".


In many ways, this response is predictable and puts us all on par with the men and women that had a responsibility within these institutions to protect the children that were abused but didn't do enough about it. We are shocked and awed by these incidents and have a knee-jerk reaction to call the acts for what they were as depraved assaults on innocent children and youth. We talk about it. Judge those who did wrong. Pray for the kids and their families. But then we do nothing else. We go back to our lives as they were and move on... until the next scandal. Then we do it all again.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." We all can play a role as a part of the solution but we need to stop moving on and start dealing with these issues in our communities. The failure in each of these scandals (and in the Catholic Church scandal that has rocked Kansas City) is that, over and over, people know something is wrong but fail to do enough about it, then move on and become silent. My question to you is "What are you doing about it?" -- because these scandals aren't going away by them selves.

In case you are unsure how to help but you want to, let me provide some local and national resources. In Kansas City, MOCSA is a great resource providing prevention, intervention, treatment, and advocacy to the community and we are always in need of good volunteers to help us in a variety of ways. Check us out on the web at www.mocsa.org. RAINN is a national network that provides information, awareness, and on-line hotline. The National Coalition to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse & Exploitation provides a variety of information for parents and child-care workers as well as those interested in getting involved with a variety far-reaching proven models. Another site with a wealth of information and resources is The Center for Disease Control and Prevention. If none of these interest you, please don't hesitate to contact us by providing a comment as we would be happy to help you consider other options.
    



On the Media, Penn State and Most Importantly the Children

As an advocate for child victims of sexual abuse and as a survivor of child sexual abuse myself, I am troubled by the lack of balance in recent media coverage of the child abuse scandal at Penn State. Too much coverage has focused on the disproportionate and ill-informed response of Penn State students, some of whom have taken to violent protest over what they see as the unfair firing of longtime coach Joe Paterno.

Missing in media accounts is a thoughtful exploration of actions taken by the Penn State board of trustees. While less provocative than the actions of some Penn State students, the board’s decision to fire all of the top officials involved in the scandal–including the legendary football coach—represents an appropriate and informed response to the facts of this case and the serious nature of what has been alleged.

It remains to be seen whether Coach Paterno or university president Graham Spanier violated the law by failing to comply with “mandated reporter” requirements (an allegation facing Bishop Finn of the Kansas City Catholic Diocese). What is clear is that the admitted failure to take swift and decisive action after learning of the abuse constitutes a moral and ethical failure that makes them unfit for continued service.

Childhood sexual abuse can have devastating and lifelong consequences. Penn State officials would do well to shift their focus now to addressing the needs of any possible victims of abuse and instituting reforms to prevent future abuse. And rather than facing punishment for breaking laws or codes of conduct, protesting students would be better served by education on the serious but gravely misunderstood issue of child sexual abuse.

As a volunteer for MOCSA (a Kansas City-based organization that treats survivors of sexual abuse and assault) and a professional grant maker in the social service arena, I am acutely aware of the critical importance of a prompt and therapeutically sound response to victims of sexual abuse. Failure on either account re-victimizes those who have fallen prey to sexual abuse and delays their difficult—yet highly possible—recovery from its effects.

Jim MacDonald

    



Masculinity Retrieval?


In my last post I discussed the portrayal of men in the media, television in particular. The inspiration came from an article by NPR’s Linda Holmes that explored whether, even considering all the advancements our society has made in terms of social issues, television has begun to regress in terms of its portrayal of men. I must admit, it had me sold: while there are certainly some great programs out there that do a fine job at positively portraying the multiple roles modern men do and should take on (I’m thinking ABC’s Modern Family), there are about a million others that do nothing but promulgate a flawed, stereotypical, testosterone-fueled image of men (i.e. anything Spike TV has ever aired). Unfortunately, I write to you all bearing news of another TV show that can be added to the latter list: Last Man Standing, a new sitcom starring Tim Allen which promotes itself as one that is retrieving masculinity…whatever that means.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have never seen Last Man Standing. However, I have seen its advertisements and read Linda Holmes’s latest article reviewing the pilot. From what I can gather, it does in fact seem to mindlessly parade stereotypical notions of “real” masculinity with an unapologetic, boastful attitude that tramples anything that some sort of macho culture deems as an obstacle to their ideas regarding manhood. For example, Holmes points out that Tim Allen’s character proudly pulls his grandson from a daycare that seems to be promoting an open mind towards things like homosexuality and gay men and instead chooses to take him to the outdoors store he operates, which he loves because “it smells like balls.”

Holmes goes on to point out that unlike Allen’s first sitcom, Home Improvement, his character this time around has no loveable qualities nor does he have a “sensible-wife counterbalance that can take the ugly out of all (of it).” As Holmes puts it, there “ is a sense in the pilot that someone sat around a table and said, ‘We need to make a show for people who are really upset about the fact that sitcoms don't make as many jokes about women, gay men and people from other countries as they used to.’”

I can say that I am definitely going to check out Last Man Standing and I’m curious if any readers have seen the first episode. Is it as bad as Holmes claims? Furthermore, does this in fact prove my earlier hypothesis that television, and the media in general, is in fact regressing in terms of its attitudes towards masculinity?

Ryan Derry

    


Please (also) Join Us For...

The Jana Mackey Distinguished Lecture Series:

Featuring Tony Porter as he speaks about "Real Men, Real Talk"
Monday October 24th 7:30pm at the Woodruff Auditorium, University of Kansas Student Union.

Tony Porter is an educator and activist who is internationally recognized for his effort to end violence against women. For more from Tony Porter, watch the video below:
    


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