As Published in the Appleton Post Crescent February 25, 2018 Nassar, Weinstein, and Sandusky are household names, but high profile cases comprise only a small percentage of sexual abuse and exploitation. Mass disclosures from victims are raising awareness about these complicated issues. “It should not be women raising the outcry,” sexism expert Jackson Katz says, “This is a men’s issue and men who are not abusers need to stop those who are.” Sexual violence against women is epidemic, remaining the #1 health concern globally. Consider these U.S. statistics: 1 in 2 women experience sexual violence in their lifetime 1 in 6 women survive attempted or completed rape 1 in 4 women are sexually abused before age 18 Every 98 seconds an unwanted sexual assault happens 9 of 10 sexual assaults are perpetrated by men against women Who are these male sex offenders? They sit at our dinner tables, in cubicles at work, and assume positions of authority in our community. Most sex offenders are married, white men, over 45 with no criminal record. They are educated, everyday guys with good jobs, homes, and families who assault women they know and purchase sex from those they don’t. Grand Chute Detective Scott Callaway agrees with national statistics, warning this is a local problem affecting our entire community. “Sexual violence and exploitation is a cultural men’s issue, but it’s also criminal. Men choose to be involved in this crime. The women they’re buying or abusing may not have a choice.” Since 2011, GCPD has arrested 273 sex buyers. One hundred percent of them were men. In one recent operation, 141 local men responded to sex-for-sale ads in one 10-hour period, resulting in six arrests. “Men are concerned about being found out. They don’t want anyone to know what they’re up to. Most believe the girls they purchase like what they are doing. They don’t think about damage to the woman, her children, or how it might affect their own family. The problem will never go away. We’re trying to push back the darkness of this crime to help everyone involved.” Brushfires Foundation director Daniel Weiss explains, “Men are sexual and relational beings suffering a cultural identity crisis rooted in fantasy. Pornography drives violence, power, control, and domination requiring zero intimacy or relationship. If we consume entertainment that degrades, devalues, and demoralizes women, then we will experience a hyper-sexualized selfish culture that does the same.” Shannon Kenevan from Voices of Men agrees the cultural problem is rooted in power and control imbalances perpetuating sexual violence towards women. “There is a pyramid of sexual violence. The bottom is a broad spectrum of demeaning language moving up to the narrow category of violent rape and assault. Every man has participated in the pyramid at some level.” He calls men to break out of the cultural ‘man box’ and be willing to stand up for women. “Cultural change around something as deeply rooted as sexual violence is difficult, but conversations are starting. We’re beginning to see movement.” Grand Chute Police Chief Greg Peterson says, “The nature of this crime keeps it hidden. It’s real. It’s here. Word is getting out and we believe our attention to this issue in our community is making a difference. Education and awareness matter.” What can men do to diminish male perpetrated sex crimes? First, determine your personal stance on the issue and educate yourself about sexploitation and the damage it causes. Know the signs. Be aware of those around you who perpetrate or fall victim to these crimes. Don’t be a bystander. Ask questions. Break the silence. Stand up against men who exploit women. Let needed change start with you.