Most People Agree – Rape is Bad
here was a battle between two rappers recently, the details aren’t super important. A friend of mine posted about it on social media. The first comment on her post said, “Wouldn’t expect you to share something where one of the first lyrics perpetuated toxic masculinity and challenges someone to ‘man up’ [sarcastic shrug emoji].” She responded with, “It’s complicated to be a feminist and love Hip-Hop.” Girl, preach! I wanted to post about it too—I decided against it.
I’m a feminist. A big one. My favorite word just might be intersectionality. Audre Lorde is one of my heroes. I live for “thinking critically” and “leaning into the discomfort.” In my utopia, none of the -isms exist, we celebrate our differences, and inclusivity and equity are a reality.
Unfortunately, we don’t live in my utopia. And in this world, somewhere along the way it became my dirty little secret to participate in the consumption of nearly any popular media and also hold feminist values. Why’s it so exclusive to be woke? And when did Prevention become strictly a feminist thing anyway? Since when does it make sense to have Prevention be an exclusive club in the first place?
Spoiler Alert – it doesn’t!
Is it possible that right now we have people feeling like they just don’t meet our standards? Would it be a surprise to learn that some people think that if they don’t agree with everything stemming from our feminist circle, that they can’t participate in our prevention efforts?
In order for people to change deeply held attitudes and beliefs, three things must be present:
- Intrinsic Motivation. Motivation is a central concept in behavior change and intrinsic motivation, specifically, takes into account our core values as people. This is connected to models like Self-Determination Theory. Cliff notes version – people generally like to feel like they’re in control of their own lives and decisions. That makes sense.
- Adequate Time to Process. Your beliefs are your truths, and your truths are always right to you—in that moment. When your beliefs change, that’s your new truth, but those changes never happen overnight. Consider important changes you’ve made. Have you changed your religion? Did your beliefs about parenting change after having kids? Did you decide to become a vegetarian? When these changes happen in our lives it’s not after one insightful conversation, and it doesn’t happen in 1 hour; it happens after you’ve had some significant time to process the idea.
- Manageable Increments of Change. People are more likely to step into small behavior changes that have less risk for vulnerability. When we try and push people too far, they dig their heels in and become even more invested in their original beliefs. While it might be tempting to want to pull folks in immediately to agree with all of our principles, research (Siero & Doosje, 1993) is also pretty clear that if we meet people where they are and move with small increments of change, folks are more likely to move further down the line in changing their beliefs to accept more nuanced and advanced concepts.
A world where less people are hurt by power-based personal violence is possible. On our quest to get there, we need all hands-on deck and, believe it or not, they don’t all need to compete in the Woke Olympics. If you’ve ever tried to change your behavior or break a habit, you know that even when you want to do it, it can be a challenge. Research has long since told us there are several stages to the change-process and the most promising outcomes have occurred when individuals have been paired with stage-matched interventions to walk them through those changes (Prochaska & Velicer, 1997). This is for people that want to change their behavior, so what does that mean for those that don’t?
I worked as a prevention educator for a campus with around 30,000 undergraduate students. I don’t know about ya’ll, but the idea of individualized stage-matched interventions for all of my students was cute, but there’s no time for cute – prevention is a numbers game! We can’t ignore the human stakes or the urgency of our work. It’s absolutely imperative that we equip people with the skills to immediately contribute to prevention; we do this by meeting people where they are and equipping them with the skills to act when they leave our programs. This sets the foundation for folks to first, be more likely to join our club of violence prevention and second, with adequate time to process, accept some of the more advanced values that might be difficult for the masses to get on board with right away. Most people already agree that rape is bad. As educators, what if we say, “I agree with you; and let’s give you some tools to stop it.”
Flannery, M. (2017). Self-Determination Theory: Intrinsic Motivation and Behavioral Change. Oncology Nursing Forum. Vol 44(2). 155-156.
Prochaska, J & Velicer, W. (1997). The Transtheoretical Model of Health Behavior Change. American Journal of Health Promotion. Vol. 12(1). 38-48.
Siero F. & Doosje, B. (1993). Attitude change following persuasive communication: Integrating Social Judgement Theory and theElaboration Likelihood Model. European Journal of Social Psychology.Vol 23. 541-554.