Jeffrey S. Bucholtz, M.A., director of We End Violence, was the guest speaker at this quarter's Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) Academy Professional Forum, which was entitled "Yes! Yes! Yes! -- A Conversation about Consent & Sexual Violence" Wednesday, Nov. 1, at the Lewis & Clark Center on Fort Leavenworth, Kan. The purpose of the event was to provide leaders, SHARP professionals and advocacy partners the knowledge of creating an environment that is less likely to tolerate sexual assault and harassment.
"The goal of today is to train new sexual assault coordinators and victim advocates," Bucholtz said, "We are giving them as much cultural context for why predators do what they do and why victims experience what they experience. The purpose of this is to help the SARCs and VAs more effectively do their jobs.
A major theme of the interactive presentation was the normalization of predatory behavior in modern culture.
"Our society socially normalizes predation through stereotypes, innuendo, actions and tolerates what sexual predators think," Buchlotz said. "The trick we have as a culture is that the average sexual predator basically believes that the rest of us think like them. They are under the impression that what they think is relatively normal. They may recognize that SARCs and VAs might not think what they think, but they think that the average person probably thinks very similarly."
He also discussed the wide-spread problem of victims blaming themselves for what led up to an assault or to feel silenced and shamed.
"No victim is created just in the act of violation; a victim is someone who lives inside a culture that has already taught them so much about what it means to be assaulted," Bucholtz said. "Some of the ways we represent ideas around choices and consequences can leave the victim placing blame on themselves instead of where it should go -- on their attacker. When SARCs and VAs see where these issues stem from in our culture, it will allow them to better provide services to those victims."
Bucholtz said he believes many past efforts to teach consent were misguided and could have actually been counterproductive to preventing sexual assault.
"'No means no' is a terrible policy, because it assumes consent by default," Bucholtz said. "A much better policy is 'Yes means yes. Everything else means no.'"
Bulcholtz is an award-winning instructor at Southwestern College where he teaches Oral Communication, Interpersonal Communication, TELA Communication (part of an African-American learning community), Public Speaking, Interpersonal Communication, and Small Group Facilitation. In addition, he works as a public speaking consultant with Speak for Success, and teaches courses on Violence Against Women and Popular Culture and Identity at San Diego State University.
For the past sixteen years, he has worked as an activist, organizer, and public speaker, providing consultation, presentations, and performances in the fields of sexual violence, masculinity, relationship violence, gender normativity, popular culture, violence prevention, stalking, bullying, working in alliances, feminist thought, collaboration, and the intersectionality of oppression.
"It's important for us to continually broaden our awareness of complimentary programs and methods," Engen said. "Mr. Bucholtz provided us with unique and new ways to view and address the issues of sexual harassment and assault, which in turn will help us to improve our methods of response and prevention as we move ahead."
The SHARP Professional Forum is part of a quarterly series the SHARP Academy and Fort Leavenworth SHARP Program Office hosts.
"These forums provide the opportunity for leaders and professionals from across the SHARP community to come together and hear from experts in the field on a wide range of applicable topics," said Colonel Christopher Engen, director of the SHARP Academy. "It broadens our knowledge base on the effectiveness of our programs and ensures the knowledge and information is timely and relevant to our efforts.
"We have great participation from across Fort Leavenworth and the region," Engen continued. "It is not just military personnel in attendance, but civilian law enforcement, healthcare providers, officials from local colleges and universities. We welcome the dialogue and sharing of information, and we hope to see continued participation in future events."