The Men Against Rape student group at Portland State recently held its first “Interruptions” workshop, a program that aims to teach participants how to deal with and react to oppressive or sexist behavior.
It helps people learn how to “speak up in situations that perpetuate oppression,” said volunteer Tash Shatz.
The Interruptions workshops are the culmination of longtime planning, according to Shatz. The first workshop, which took place on Nov. 1, began with an icebreaker in which the attendees, a group of about 15, shared observations about oppressive or sexist behavior, and how they reacted to those observations.
For 18 years, Professor Jack Straton, the group’s adviser, has been leading discussion groups on diversity and on ending sexual assault and racism. After the icebreaker, Straton led the group through a dialogue on how to minimize fear and confrontation when interrupting–a term that means to prevent sexual assault or oppressive and sexist behavior.
“Interruption doesn’t have to be a confrontation,” said Chris Goodwin, outreach coordinator for Men Against Rape.
People who say sexist and oppressive things may not always be aware of the connotation of their words, Goodwin said. The workshop teaches people how to have an open dialogue and address offenders without negativity.
Little advertising was done for the event because it was a test-drive of sorts for the group, said Shatz, who is also the equal rights advocate for the PSU student government. The audience was composed mainly of group members and volunteers from the Women’s Resource Center.
The group aims to hold more of these workshops throughout the year, with a more diversified audience, Goodwin said.
According to their MySpace profile, “Men Against Rape group is committed to ending rape on our college campus by addressing the root causes through primary prevention work.”
Men Against Rape currently meets every Thursday at 5 p.m. at varying locations. People interested in sitting in on a meeting can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information about the group, including where it will meet. Along with holding more Interruptions workshops, the group is in the process of putting together a constitution, and is always welcoming new members.