Men Should Stand Up to Rapists, Not Befriend Them

Leah Parsons, Rehtaeh Parsons Glen Canning,

Leah Parsons, Rehtaeh Parsons Glen Canning,

Glen Canning says it’s time to stop talking about ending rape and start showing through our actions that we do not stand for sexual violence in our communities


Shame is a powerful weapon.

Shame is what sexual predators rely on. Next to alcohol it’s their preferred WMD. What were you thinking, after all, being alone, dressing like that, drinking too much, trusting too much? You should have known better. You should have known what would happen. It’s the same approach pedophiles use when they tell their victims “we’re only doing what you want.”

I was invited to speak in Ottawa recently and share my thoughts on violence against women and the role men play. There are two things I’ve learned since my daughter, Rehtaeh Parsons, died last April and I began to speak at conferences and meetings. One, the audience will be almost all women, as it was in this case, and two, attempts to hurt and silence me suddenly appear when there’s anything mentioned about Rehtaeh online or in social media. She’s worm food because I’m a failure, according to one person’s post. If I don’t shut up I’ll join her, says another. Some choose words so disgusting I can’t bring myself to repeat them.

You see, according to them, Rehtaeh didn’t die from being raped and bullied, she died because I’m a bad father. I knowingly let her smoke pot, drink vodka, and raised her to be flirtatious and promiscuous. Rehtaeh wasn’t raped because someone raised their sons to be a rapists, she was raped because her father raised her to be raped.

Rapists rely on other men to excuse and justify their crimes against women. Other men who’ll laugh at their jokes, invite them to parties, play sports with them, introduce them to other women.

Almost every time her name is mentioned in the news or in an article those anonymous posters show up with their fake usernames and post all sorts of nonsense, innuendo, lies, misinformation and outright victim blaming. Rarely do they use real names and rarely are they women.

I’m not sure why some people feel a need to weigh in on issues they know little or nothing about. I reply if I can even though it’s almost always futile. Some people just have the wrong information while others are so out to lunch. I’m left wondering if they’ve read anything about this story at all. Patrick Doran of the Edmonton Men’s Movement thinks I’ve been using a “victim-card” to silence critics in the “…years since Rehtaeh’s death.

It hasn’t been a year yet, Patrick.

I try to not to get hooked. I honestly have bigger issues to deal with than a handful of forgettable trolls. It’s the people who say nothing I want to reach, the people who are shocked by this story and don’t know, or don’t realize, they have a part to play. Men mainly. Not the ones trolling rape stories; I’m talking about the good ones. Men with hearts, families, compassion, decency and a sense of virtue.

Rapists rely on other men to excuse and justify their crimes against women. Other men who’ll laugh at their jokes, invite them to parties, play sports with them, introduce them to other women. Men who’ll give them jobs, feed them, and help them blame their victims even if it’s by indifference.

Men, good men, need to stand up and do to rapists and their supporters what we do to child molesters. Imagine the difference it would make if a man who jokes about rape and always doubts victims entered a room to silence, whispers, stares, and looks of disgust from other men. That is what we need to do as men.

We need to take an honest hard look at why we befriend rapists, why we believe them, allow them, tolerate them, and help them get away with the crimes they commit. We should be confronting them, exposing them, shunning them from our homes, families, teams, and places of employment. We need to use our voices to be a part of the solution and not let our silence continue to be part of the problem.

There is a stigma attached to rape. A stigma centuries old, created by devils, used against their victims to hide awful deeds. It’s time to put that stigma where it belongs. There is no difference between a man who rapes and a man who befriends and defends him.

We need to take an honest hard look at why we befriend rapists, why we believe them, allow them, tolerate them, and help them get away with the crimes they commit.

I tried to end my talk in Ottawa on a big note but couldn’t find the right words. The message has been said many times already. It’s time to stop talking and start doing. We’re still in a place where a 16-year-old will write on Rehtaeh’s Facebook page and wonder how she couldn’t have known what happens to girls when they drink around boys. A place where young women ask what they can do to make sure they don’t get raped.

Truth is there’s nothing they can do. Women who don’t smoke pot get raped as do women who don’t drink vodka and women with amazing fathers. I hate to think what some of those posters will say to themselves if someone they love ever gets raped because according to their logic it wasn’t the rapists fault, it’s the fault of the people who love the victim.

Piece originally appeared on Huffington Post 


  1. Tim Carter says:

    Women should stand up to female rapists and abusers and not excuse that behavior just because she is a woman.

  2. John Anderson says:

    One question I think is worth asking is where do you draw the line? Is rape the magic crime that draws immediate excommunication or does it extend to murder? Why not people who commit DV? If you knew a woman who hit her boyfriend are you wrong for continuing to befriend her or complicit if you introduce her to a man? What if she didn’t injure him, would that make it OK? What if her ex-boyfriend was built like a linebacker and the guy you’re introducing is much smaller? What if she didn’t have access to a weapon before, but she uses one on her new boyfriend, are you then complicit because you knew she was violent or does she actually have to injure someone to a certain extent before you can be held accountable for knowing that she might injure someone severely?

    • Adam Blanch says:

      Hey John,

      Ease up on the reason will you. You might get people actually thinking about this stuff before they post. Knee jerk reactions and blind ideology only if you please. :<}

  3. Adam Blanch says:

    As a father, and I can only imagine your pain and anger and the desire to punish those responsible and any one like them. I know that I would want to kill anyone who harmed my precious child, and would have to be stopped from doing it.

    As a psychologist and a violence researcher, I can tell you that what you propose is not the solution – it’s just not that simple. Shame is not the solution because its a major part of the problem. Almost all people who commit violent crime come from backgrounds of shame and humiliation, it’s what makes them violent. It is their experience of being deeply shamed that makes the natural feelings of shame and guilt, which should inhibit them from doing the crime, completely inaccessible to them. They are violent because we, as a society, failed to protect them from the violence that made them this way. It is a vicious cycle, and more violence will not solve it, not even the psychological violence of shaming them.

    • Men who rape have no place in the community. Lock them up permanently and throw away the key. No woman ever asked to be raped. Stop blaming women and start holding those who rape to account. They are weak, loathsome creatures who have to resort to sexual violence in order to feel significant. They deserve to be cutoff from the rest of society. They deserve nothing but contempt.

      • Adam Blanch says:

        Feeling better Stan? all pumped up on rage and righteousness? I hope you shared your comment on Facebook, there’s no point being one of the morally superior members of the species if you don’t get some kudos for it.

    • Yes. Exactly. The root of the problem is in the society that produces the rapist. People have some severe talk about how to deal with them, and on one hand, it’s understandable: anyone could picture someone in their lives being assaulted and want to kill the perpetrator. He’s a monster and your daughter is precious. And in some cases, that’s a somewhat fair assessment of the crime. But of course, not all cases are so black and white: evidence is rare, stories are confused and varied, not everyone’s daughter is an angel, and not everyone accused of crimes is guilty, let alone guilty of being a monster. We would all like it if there were no rape, and we should definitely make an attempt to confront any indication of its acceptability. But the violence and shame we seem poised to deliver in a universal sense upon “these monsters” is both ineffective and not morally perfect. I think for some people, this threat of violence and shame is an attempt to distance themselves from rapists, to separate them as a different species. I think men, sharing a gender with most rapists, are particularly vitriolic in this psychologically defensive behavior. But rapists ARE people. They may be morally weak; they may have a screw or two loose, but there are forces that help form their mentalities and trigger their crimes. These forces are cultural and societal, and we all are subject to them. With that in mind, we can discuss the influences and conditions under which a rapist might have thoughts of anger and violence. Bitterness, shame, and humiliation. Ever thought that some women who seemed to be interested only in men with wealth, power, status? Ever feel like some women looked down on you, and the last thing they’d ever do is acknowledge your humanity, let alone have sex with you? What if your experience taught you that all women were like this? And what if you believed your only way to feel anything was through sex, and someone was denying you that and leading you on? What’s the point in caring if no one cares about you? I’m not saying it excuses the crime: it doesn’t. But if we want to effectively address the issue we need to destroy the traditional gender structure that separates men and women, and fosters foolish games and mistrust. And I think that’s why we’re here, on TGMP.

  4. It’s not enough to expect men alone to stand up to rapists, women need to pull their weight too. It’s not just men who support them in the community.

    ” We should be confronting them, exposing them, shunning them from our homes, families, teams, and places of employment.”

    What do you do when the victim tells you not to? Victims who won’t goto the police but don’t want you to confront them or do anything different?

    There’s something that has to be said in who supports rapists. I’ve known a few women who’ve been raped, and go BACK to the rapist/abuser. Whilst it’s incredibly complex and difficult for them to leave, their actions unwittingly do support the rapist. It shows the rapist they can get her back, that there are no repercussions and it further strengthens the rapists behaviours. No, this is not victim blaming, this is merely stating facts. Quite often people don’t report rape and the rapist goes on to either rape them again and abuse them in other ways or goes on to rape n abuse someone else because they haven’t been stopped. We need to do whatever we can to help victims take them to court n prosecute the rapists. I don’t blame the victims here either, I blame our shit society for making it so difficult to report the crime. Society is at fault where people do not feel safe or secure in seeking the very people (Justice dept, police, etc) who are meant to protect them.

    We need better support for people to leave abusive situations, to find a way to balance the rights of all involved and allow for due process (because witch hunts and kangaroo courts would also be a crime against humanity), we need a way where victims feel safe in taking rapists to court and also ensuring the accused stays anonymous until convicted (after that, spread their name n shame them). Women n men, children, all people should feel safe in getting justice against their attackers. This way legit accusations are taken seriously as the false accusations won’t do anywhere near as much harm due to anonymity which would reduce quite a lot of rape apoligism or skepticism, and trials won’t get tainted by “trial by media” which can bias jurors and screw up the entire system.

    I urge everyone to support victims in taking the accused to trial, whilst also ensuring justice can happen by refusing to name the accused in media as the accused MUST have anonymity to ensure the trial isn’t tainted and keep the victim safe too. Do remember that even if there is no conviction, it may not be a case of false accusation but could be lack of evidence or possibly (I’d say more rarely) mistaken identity but still support the victim.

    I guess the tough one is if your friend has been accused, what do you do? This is a tough moral dilemma, on one hand believing the victim is important but also believing in your friend is a normal trait. It’s a personal decision but if you feel they did abuse them then do not be their friend or do what you can to encourage them in stepping up to the plate n taking responsibility by admitting guilt n taking whatever justice comes their way. Anyone truly innocent of such a crime better be damn sure to be speaking out against rape too and making sure it’s known that rape is wrong. One of the hardest parts about getting justice for abusers is that they can often be very charming and that can lead to others supporting them thinking they’re innocent. If my friend was accused, I would be doing what I can to make sure they prove their innocence or face the music if they’re guilty (and I wouldn’t be friends with them after a guilty verdict). Either way rape should have a stigma against the rapist, good people should rightly outcast them until they make amends and severely change their ways.

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      Archy – The only thing we should do for survivors is support them and ask them how we can help. Also, reassure them that they can heal and be happy again.

      No survivor should be forced or pressured into going public or to the police, but with a lot of love and support, many may choose to do so.

      • That’s what I’d like to see happen, more support available and if they choose to goto police to have a less traumatic time. For example, find a way to limit the “second rape” I think they call it where trauma hits again as the trials are often nasty places with the lawyers going hard at the accuser.

        Maybe it might be an idea to have a way for a survivor to accuse someone but not press charges and go through the courts if they don’t feel it. Something where the police won’t charge the accused but will seek him/her out and inform them of the law, inform them on consent and basically have a forced anti-rape education program even if it’s just a 20 minute talk in the form of a warning. It may be enough to wake them up to their bad behaviour but I’m not sure how the legalities would work out. If its kept anonymous with no records except a single visit by the police officers then it will probably avoid the major problems with false accusations but also allow for some authority to speak to the alleged abuser to clean up their act.

        I also want to see far better sex education in schools to teach consent too.

  5. I am truly sorry for your loss; I can’t even imagine the emotional pain that you must feel. But I can’t see what you mean by men excusing, justifying, laughing at rape, or having known unrepentant rapists as friends and introducing them to women. Who does this, knowingly?

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      I don’t think anyone does it knowingly, I think they excuse “rape behavior” like getting a person really drunk, or pushing past a “no” or even just saying “I’m sure it wasn’t as bad as he or she said” when someone is excused.

      When I was in high school, three popular guys allegedly raped a Junior girl. What was crazy was that pretty much EVERYONE believed her, because she’d had too much to drink and these guys were just known for taking advantage of girls who had too much to drink. But there were literally NO consequences for what they did, even though she was even bruised.

      This was the 1990s, of course, but I think that attitude is still there.

      THAT would be excusing and justifying (and even laughing at) rape, by good people. People who would never THINK they were justifying or excusing rape. To them, because she’d been drinking, it just wasn’t rape. Even though she said no.

      • It’s for comments like yours that I wish GMP had a “like” button, Joanna. Because I’d push it 100 times.

      • Everytime I hear of someone who know’s a rapist, there is only 1 thing keeping that rapist alive. The law. Pretty much every man I’ve met that has talked about rapists wants to take them out to the creek, put a round in their head n feed them to the crocs. Same for the women I know too.

        I’ve known of someone that has abused another but the victim didn’t want me saying anything, it’s such a moral dilemma. No chance in hell I’d hire them and if you could give me a James Bond license they’d no longer breath. Maybe Australian’s are different in that respect? Maybe just my friends n family? My cousins CANNOT be in the same place as their father because they will kick the living shit out of him, I cannot be around a certain few people because the urge for violence is very high knowing what they do. It’s extremely hard for me to talk to my cousins ex husband for instance, I want to break his arms so bad for what he did to her.

        My family is super protective of each other and it takes an enormous amount of willpower to not to go full on violent at people that hurt us. For instance a teacher hit one of my cousins one day many years ago (before the law was so strict) and my uncle dropped that teacher with a punch. That’s the kinda people I am use to, people that have absolute rage at rapists, abusers, etc. The women I know want to get a hammer n beat the rapists genitals for instance. There’s a very visceral anger towards rapists here where I am.

        • John Anderson says:

          @ Archy

          “there is only 1 thing keeping that rapist alive. The law”

          That depends on how well you know him for some. Some people will always defend or protect a friend or relative (a son) even if they have done something wrong. I don’t know how the OP would suggest we handle that. A 20 year old relationship doesn’t end because someone did something wrong to someone else.

          On the other hand I know what you mean. A woman ran into a biker bar in my old neighborhood. Her daughter was being raped in an ally near the bar and she asked people to call the police. When the police arrived, the first thing they had to do was rescue the rapist from the bar patrons. The bar basically emptied out and started pounding him. These were tough as nails bikers.

        • Pretty much every man I’ve met that has talked about rapists wants to take them out to the creek, put a round in their head n feed them to the crocs. Same for the women I know too.
          That largely matches my experience too.

          Its one thing if they are accused but once they are sure he is a rapist its open season to wish the worst of circumstances happen to him or even offer to “help” the worst of circumstances happen to him.

    • Paul, I used to think that must be a rarity, too. Then I joined a hobby that skews male. Since then, I’ve heard three different men make jokes in public, mostly male, spaces about sleeping with underage teens or intoxicated women, and the other men said nothing, even laughed. And then I was at a small party that was also mostly guys and when it was time to go one of the men said “Well, it’s Rape Time!” And not a single guy said anything, including some very close friends of mine. I was the one who had to say something, and nobody even backed me up when I did. So now, yes, this is very easy for me to believe happens, and happens with frequency. It is appalling, and it is definitely time for men to stand up and stop encouraging their friends’ behavior by failing to express disapproval or censure.

      • Wow. That’s pretty disgusting. Well, most of us aren’t like that. I hope you can find some better friends. Or maybe you can encourage them to become braver like you? I’d like to assume that most of that kind of talk is just stupid bravado from classless men. What hobby is that, anyway; maybe I’ll avoid it?

  6. John Anderson says:

    Sorry for your loss. I think the problem is that if a rapist claims he’s being falsely accused, men can imagine themselves in his shoes. Men have more difficulty imagining themselves as victims of rape.

    • J.Crawford says:

      You’re right for the most part- Men and Women dismiss male victims of rape as if Women- who typically are physically Weaker- can’t Rape

      • John Anderson says:

        @ J.Crawford

        Well that too, but that wasn’t what I was getting at. What I meant to say probably quiet clumsily is that we focus on the things that personally impact us. If I believe that there is a greater chance that I will be falsely accused of rape than the chance that I will be raped, my major focus is on ensuring due process right, innocent until proven guilty, etc. If I feel that I can protect my female friends / relatives or otherwise ensure that they are rape proof by wearing the right clothes, no drinking, not coming on to guys etc., I don’t ever need to concern myself with the possibility that rape will impact me personally either directly or through someone I love.

        How do we combat this? First, as you say we’re never going to ensure our women are rape proof. It doesn’t matter what they wear or do. We need to stop looking at an inability to protect them as a personal failing. You won’t always be around no matter how tough you are. We need to understand that most women are good just like most men. False rape accusations are rare.

        That doesn’t mean every guy or even most guys accused are guilty if you believe in “gray” areas like I do. It’s possible that he night have misinterpreted or missed something or she thought she said no when she only thought it, etc. I think men get the benefit of the doubt in these gray areas and women are considered liars when the truth (reality as she sees it) is just as valid as his.

      • Jennifer says:

        May as well say it: Men can be raped by other men. Anyone remember Dean Coryl, John Gacy or Westley Dodd? Or William Bonin? All four men raped and killed other men.

    • A matter of perspective. I think this may be how battle lines are drawn when it comes to rape cases. Guys side with the accused women side with the accuser (not always mind you).

      Maybe its not that men side with the accused because they genuinely think the guy is innocent because they are thinking “if i were the accused I’d be innocent” and then that carries over to the case at hand?

      Just a far flung thought.

  7. J.Crawford says:

    I feel for you; as a Father myself I can only imagine how horrible and deplorable it is for anyone, espeially Men/Boys to go to Victim/Slut Shaming in regards to Rape crimes. I myself do not understand why it is that Us Guys can’t imagine if it were our Mothers, Daughters, Sisters, Female Cousins, Friends, Associates or Aquaintances being vicitms of Rape the conversations and feelings would be greatly different. There is no “Two Wrongs make a Right” or a Woman being “more Wrong because she Drank/Wore Tight Clothes/ Acted Interested”, or even “She was Okay with It Before/Earlier”. As SOON as a Woman says No to sexual advances, Men SHOULD BACK THE HELL OFF!!!

    As a Black Man too, This is no different than when folks place blame on clothes, the type of music I/We listen to, and other factors for Bad Behavior and/or brutality by Police, or in cases like Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis- Deaths. Nobody “deserves” anything Wrong to happen to them based off of Clothing or Music tastes. I may dislike the overall theme that Boys/Men need to be “taught’ Not to Rape- because not All or Every Male is wired to be Sexual Deviants- but clearly Many of us need to be Aware of Ourselves and Other Men and call out the BS whenever we see it, be these Men Close to us or Strangers

    • John Anderson says:

      @ J.Crawford

      “why it is that Us Guys can’t imagine if it were our Mothers, Daughters, Sisters, Female Cousins, Friends, Associates or Aquaintances being vicitms of Rape”

      It’s an admission that we can’t protect them. What kind of man can’t protect his women? It’s an admission that we fail as men based on traditional roles of masculinity.

    • Danielle Paradis says:

      @J. Crawford I’d never thought about the comparison to clothes or music but you are right, no one deserved violence because of what they are wearing or listening to.

  8. Louise Grace says:

    Thank you for this. I raised 2 girls, now grown with families of their own. I set limits and boundaries and they pushed against them as teens are supposed to do. They drank, took drugs and experimented with boys, but as much as I was told what a bad parent I was, I knew I was doing my best and that they would eventually come through unscathed.

    I was a lucky parent. My heart bleeds for this family. No child, girl or boy, or their family, should ever be told that an attack, physical, sexual or verbal is because of their failings, it is the failings of the perpetrator.

    As a woman I know the fear of walking along a street wondering if the guy walking a little to close behind me is dangerous, I question my clothing just in case I give the wrong signal to some predator…at 45 I no longer want to feel like this, it is time that we change the way people are viewed. I am not an object to be bought, ogled or touched up, I am an intelligent, sassy female who loves life, treat me with the same respect I afford you, see me as a person not a sex and life will be a whole lot safer and simpler.

    Glen Canning, I am sorry for your loss, and I have so much respect for a parent who is still fighting this battle despite the backlash.

  9. Chantelle says:

    Perfectly said!!!! Blaming the victim is unacceptable yet is definately the cultural norm… each person has to take responsibility for their own actions. If a guy (or woman) rapes someone that is their choice, not their victims choice, that’s why it’s called rape. Otherwise it’s consensual sex.

  10. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Your last paragraph says it all: there is no rhyme or reason to it, and all women are potential targets. I would like to re-post this on my web site, if that’s okay with you.

    Tamerie Shriver


  1. […] There is a stigma attached to rape. A stigma centuries old, created by devils, used against their victims to hide awful deeds. It's time to put that stigma where it belongs.  […]

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