5.29.16 |Jonathan Kalin
I observed the inner workings of “guy code” as a captain of my college’s basketball team. In the locker room, we’d assert ourselves by nonchalantly referencing girls we had slept with. I heard more than once: “If we couldn’t have sex with girls, we’d never talk to them.”
I participated in the bravado, even if begrudgingly. Guy code didn’t come easy to me, something that had a lot to do with my upbringing. I was 12 years old when my father died in a car accident, turning my family’s lives upside down. In the wake of his death, my mother became the picture of strength. My coming of age was spent helping my mom, who taught me (whether inadvertently or not) that only a gender-equal, open-minded perspective could lead to happiness.
Naturally, I was excited when I stumbled on a campus group called Male Athletes Against Violence. There I learned that stereotypical masculine attitudes and hierarchy can play a huge role in why sexual assaults happen on campus — men are rewarded for displays of sexuality and women are shamed for them: “Boys will be boys” while some women are “asking for it.”
When I tried to convey this line of thinking to my peers, I spoke of deconstructing sexist norms and the importance of feminism. As you might expect, I didn’t meet with much success. Male-oriented approaches to sexual assault on campus often take a more conservative stance, essentially sending the message that men should be concerned about sexual assault because they could risk jail time or be kicked off a team.