What do I do if my friend won’t stop calling himself the “Red Dot?” As in the anti-Green Dot—as in the anti-bystander intervention? It makes me really uncomfortable, and I just don’t think it’s OK.
—Red with Rage
First of all, your friend sounds like a jerk. Second, educate this man. Third, I still can’t get over how insensitive he is. For the readers trying to comprehend why this might be an angering topic, let me take a step onto my soapbox for a second.
Taken from Washington University’s Relationship & Sexual Violence Prevention Center website:
“Green Dot is a bystander intervention training program backed by research and used by colleges across the country. The Green Dot strategy educates and empowers students, staff and faculty to create a community where violence is not tolerated and everyone plays a part in creating a culture of respect. A Green Dot is any behavior, choice, word or attitude that promotes safety and communicates an intolerance for sexual assault, dating violence and stalking.”
This program trains and educates people on how to prevent sexual assault, dating violence and stalking—all prevalent issues on college campuses. To say that you are the opposite of a Green Dot is to say that you actively support and promote acts of sexual assault, dating violence and stalking.
Now, I’m sure if the aforementioned “jerk” read this last paragraph he’d think, “No, I don’t mean that at all; it was just a joke.” At least, that’s my hope. I’d like to assume not every man is scheming ways to assault and rob me of my right to my body. Let’s say he falls into the ignorant category and believes bystander intervention is synonymous with “cock-blocking,” or vindictively robbing someone of their chance to have sexual relations with another person. Some examples of “cock-blocking” would be jumping into a conversation that might have been going somewhere, sabotaging someone by sharing something embarrassing from their past or swooping in and hitting it off with someone else’s date. Whereas some examples of bystander intervention would be removing someone from a situation wherein they are obviously too inebriated to consent, turning the lights on or off to allow a person the time to consider their actions or even simply asking someone if they are OK with what is happening.
What’s sad to me is that this person seems unable to separate what is assault and what is pleasure to themselves—or, what is harmful and what is consensual. If you believe bystander intervention is bad, annoying or just plain mean, do you also believe that consent is not important, that assault is not life-changing or that women’s bodies do not deserve respect?
Conversations like these can be hard ones to initiate, or even hard to hear out, especially when everything’s justified with “I was just joking!” I get that, and I’m sure this was a hard question to even ask in the first place. He’s your friend, but he’s also your friend who has a dangerous take on what consent really means.
What I’ve learned is that playing the blame game generally gets you nowhere. If you want to change his views, find a way to make this topic important to him. Bring up that time a girl grabbed his junk or grinded on him at a party and he really wasn’t into it. Talk about your own experiences (if you’re comfortable), or bring up a hypothetical situation. If you can make him care about it—as it relates to his own life and not just to women to whom he seems to feel no connection—he’ll hopefully be more receptive to the conversation. In the meantime, for everyone’s sake, try to shut down those statements—and keep an eye on him at prime “hunting ground” events. I’d hate to see a guy like him be a part of another girl’s nightmare.
You’re right. It’s not OK,