BY K.J. ADLER
Before an audience of over 70, with over a third of the group consisting of men, psychology professor Chris Kilmartin began his forum on sexual assault by confessing that he hadn’t prepared anything formal, believing that a forum is meant for others to speak as well. Kilmartin asked what the members of the audience wanted to talk about.
In the Red Room Jan. 28, Kilmartin led a VOX and SDS hosted forum that asked the question “Why does sexual assault happen?”
A wide range of inquiries were posed, from topics on campus safety to the lack of sexual assaults reported to the apparent surge of sexual assault cases found in the media. After writing down each person’s question, Kilmartin took the time to breach each topic while allowing viewers to interject thoughts and concerns as he spoke.
Kilmartin concluded throughout the forum that aggression towards women starts with the hyper masculinity that many men encourage between one another and can only be stopped through the empowerment and coercion of “good men.”
“Men are socialized to be sexual aggressors,” Kilmartin stated. “There is a belief that it is okay to have sex but to not talk about it before hand and this can lead to problems.”
“Why do we encourage the idea of opposite sexes?” he asked the audience. “It’s like saying that IBM is the complete opposite of Apple.”
During most of his lecture, Kilmartin deconstructed before the audience the many incorrect preconceived notions that men and women have towards one another.
“The guy who wrote “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” had no research citation and was an Internet graduate,” Kilmartin stated with a smile. “Yet his books have sold like hotcakes while mine have sold like fruitcakes. It’s because people are completely sucked in to the myth of men and women being polar opposites and this helps to generate the adversarial sex beliefs many people hold.”
Along with covering the broad concerns around sexism, Kilmartin also covered issues with drinking and sex, the aggressive sexual acts towards women in the porn industry, and how to fight back cat—calling.
“I went to the talk because I believe that in order to prevent sexual assault we need to understand what factors are contributing to the problem,” senior Ellen Ferrante said. “I don’t think we talk about these factors enough—instead of feeling powerless when we hear about assaults we need to think of prevention, and learn how to educate people so that these horrible acts won’t happen. I think Dr. Kilmartin, effectively addressed these points, encouraged open discussion about them, and I left with a lot of new information.”
Kilmartin ended his lecture on the idea that the best way for sexual assault prevention is through the leadership of strong men who can deter other men from behaving in sexist ways. On the woman’s side, there needs to be less fear and more proactive measures to teach and create equality among the sexes.
“I lecture to help awareness on sexism and believe that today it is becoming a greater topic of interest,” Kilmartin stated in a post forum interview. “The best way to help stop the presence of sexism is anything that can win respect for women and the amplification of healthy voices among good men and women alike.”
Kilmartin earned a doctorate and masters degree in counseling psychology. Along with authoring “The Masculine Self” and co-authoring a number of books on male psychology and sexual assault, he also wrote two solo performance pieces entitled “Crimes against Nature” and “Guy Fi: The Fiction that Rule Men’s Lives.”
“Dr. Kilmartin was great about hitting the points that people wanted to know more about,” vice-president of VOX, sophomore Cara MacDonald said. “Though the talk was serious, he was able to squeeze in a couple laughs to break the lighten the mood. He seemed to hit on everything too. I was very pleased with the wide range of discussions that came out of this one forum.”
VOX is a group that stands for pro-choice issues and encouraging the education of sexual health. They stand for prevention believing that if children are taught comprehensive sexual education in school and birth control options are available to women, unintended pregnancies and forced motherhood can be prevented.