A sociologist explains how friendship can help end sexual assault

May 3, 2013

How friendship can help end rape
Writing for Sociological Images, sociologist Michael Kimmel says a scene from the 1989 movie, When Harry Met Sally, does not resonate with today’s young people. They completely reject Harry’s belief that men and women can’t be friends with each other because sexual desire always gets in the way of friendship. When Kimmel asks college students if they have a close friend of the opposite sex, almost all say they do. He points out that in the “politics” of friendship, a person becomes friends not with someone “subordinate” but with someone who is equal. “More than romance, and surely more than workplace relationships, friendships are the relationships with the least amount of inequality,” he says. Kimmel sees in that equality-within-friendship a major key for helping men work toward ending sexual assault. How? By recognizing, discussing, and “disentangling” the three elements that foster sexual assault—and doing something about them. Read what the three elements are.

Letha Dawson Scanzoni
Letha Dawson Scanzoni (1935-2024) was an independent scholar, writer, and editor, and the author or coauthor of nine books. In 1978, she and Virginia Ramey Mollenkott wrote Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?, one of the earliest books urging evangelical Christians to rethink their views on homosexuality (updated edition, 1994, HarperOne). More recently, Letha coauthored (with social psychologist David G. Myers) What God Has Joined Together: The Christian Case for Gay Marriage (HarperOne, 2005 and 2006). Another of Letha’s most well-known books is All We’re Meant to Be: Biblical Feminism for Today, coauthored with Nancy A. Hardesty (Word Books, 1974; revised edition, Abingdon, 1986; updated and expanded edition, Eerdmans, 1992). Letha served as editor of Christian Feminism Today in both its former print edition (EEWC Update) and its website for 19 years until her retirement in December 2013.