On April 4, Jonathan Kalin spoke with students at SJC Brooklyn about sexual assault awareness and building a culture of consent.
Jonathan Kalin lost his father when he was 12 years old. Kalin fostered a strong bond with his mother, and was taught to love and respect women. At the same time, Kalin — like many young men — experienced the invisible influence of male machoism. The type of behavior seemingly made acceptable and harmless through popular media.
You’ve seen this behavior in films, even if you hadn’t noticed it before. Kalin demonstrated this by showing a scene from the 2007 comedy Superbad in which Jonah Hill and Michael Cera discuss the possibility of hooking up. “You know how girls are always like ‘I got so drunk last night, I shouldn’t have hooked up with that guy?’ We can be that mistake!”
“It’s OK to laugh,” Kalin said, and the crowd did laugh at Jonah Hill’s monologue, “But listen to what he’s saying.” Kalin pointed out that many men are susceptible to the luxury of being oblivious, and that’s OK, but education on the topic of consent is paramount.
Jonathan Kalin with students from SJC Brooklyn
Kalin is the founder and executive director of Party With Consent. He created the movement as a sophomore at Colby College through the organization Male Athletes Against Violence. Kalin and Party With Consent have been featured in The New York Times, Time Magazine and The Guardian. Party With Consent aims to prevent sexual violence through events, merchandise and education. It’s an effort to affirm healthy sexual behavior and promote authentic relationships, with students holding the power to change campus culture.
Kalin explained how white male privilege and the socialization of masculinity can lead to some serious consequences. “Culture tells us that consent can be disregarded,” Kalin said, offering that he — like many young men — never thought of himself as the type of person who would perpetuate chauvinistic behavior. “My thinking was always ‘I’m not doing that. I’m not part of the problem. So it isn’t my concern.”
Interacting with the large gathering of students present, Kalin opened the floor to solicit terminology used to describe a man’s man. The man’s man drove a cadillac, had a beard, was tall and muscular… and was completely out of touch with his emotions.
“This is what’s called ‘The Man Box’.” Kalin said.
Kalin then asked for suggestions men typically receive to prevent sexual assault from happening to them. The responses were practically nonexistent. When flipped to the women, suggestions rained down from the audience. “Don’t wear revealing clothing!” “Carry a whistle!” “Walk in groups!”
Like in so many examples within popular culture, the disparity was extreme.
Kalin’s SJC visit was part of the school’s ongoing sexual assault educational series during April, which is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). The goal of SAAM is to raise public awareness about sexual violence and to educate communities on how to prevent it. Thanks to Jonathan Kalin and Party With Consent, students at St. Joseph’s College are more likely to make safer and healthier choices when it comes to sexual behavior.