I have been thinking a lot recently about rape, in all it’s forms. From rape within the context of a relationship to the stranger on the street. My experience at the Vagina Monologues drew me deeper into this line of thought.

Here’s the statistic that’s struck me the most: 1 out of every 3 women in the US military is raped by another member of the US armed forces. 1 out of every 3. Raped. Another member of the US armed forces.

That’s shocking.

So much of education around rape is aimed at women – how to avoid situations that might lead to rape (no drugs, no alcohol, never walk alone after dark, etc.), how to be clear about sexual intentions (“Stop. I do not want to do that.”), how to get help after a rape (crisis hotlines, women’s resource centers, etc.). This education is critical. It lets women know that a rape is not their fault, and that they are not alone.

But focusing on the women’s half of a rape experience is not anywhere near enough. Preventing rape is what we need to be focusing on.

But not very much attention is put on educating men on how not to rape, why not to rape. So I’ve been wondering how (or whether) parents and sex educators can effectively introduce the topic of rape into conversations with preteen and teenage boys.

I like the way the Unitarian Universalist sex ed curriculum Our Whole Lives deals with the issue. There is a story told of a date between two college students. The story is told first from the woman’s perspective, and then from the man’s perspective. It’s clear from the woman’s story that she was raped, and clear from the man’s story that he had no idea he was raping her.

But I don’t feel like it’s enough. And I’m not sure how to provide an outline for a conversation where the young man doesn’t feel like he is being assumed to be a potential rapists – because he will shut down to the conversation if he feels that way. However, the majority of sex ed curricula that present rape do so under the (apparent) belief that none of the boys in the room will ever rape a woman. And that’s clearly just not the case, or women wouldn’t be raped as often as they are.

So how can we adults educate the following generations of boys so that they will not rape?

I know there are a lot of smart people with a lot to say about sex and sex education who read this blog. Some of you get it by e-mail (I know because I have your e-mail addresses! ) and some of you get it by RSS.  Please speak up today. Come to the site and leave a comment. Let me and other readers know what you think about how to educate boys about rape. Forward this link or this post on to others and ask that they leave their ideas too. I see this as a critical topic that’s not getting enough discussion. So let’s get it started here!