A Response from John Foubert
At my invitation, John Foubert has submitted a response to my article: "Are Foubert's Claims About 'The Men's Program' Overstated?" This response was written in October, 2002 in part as a result of an incorrect statement that I made about "The Men's Program” that was published in the July 2002 issue of Student Affairs Today.
In this article I stated that "Men in a control group in Foubert's study also had a decrease in self-reported likelihood of raping." This was incorrect. I have written to the editor of Student Affairs Today and to John to apologize for this mistake.
What I intended to say was: "At the end of the study, the control group and the experimental group did not have significantly different scores on the variable 'men's likelihood of raping.' As a result, I do not believe that the author can claim that the intervention significantly lowered men's likelihood of raping."
Although I do not agree with John's characterizations of my motives in commenting on his research or with his descriptions of my actions, I believe that it is important for the reader to have both of our perspectives on this issue.
Your comments on this dialogue are most welcome.
The Truth About "Are Foubert's Claims About 'The Men's Program' Overstated"
John D. Foubert, Ph.D.
For the last few years, independent consultant Alan Berkowitz has distributed critiques of a program and book I authored called The Men's Program1. These critiques have been given to numerous people in numerous formats. For the first few years I appreciated much of the content, though not always the tone, of these critiques and revised my work accordingly when he raised a point that improved the efficacy of The Men's Program. Increasingly, his critiques have taken a non-collaborative and personal tone. One need only ponder the title of his current critique, noted above, to discover its personal nature.
On several occasions, Dr. Berkowitz has made statements that are untrue 2,3 about The Men's Program. Following the advice of my colleagues, I confronted Dr. Berkowitz with these inaccuracies and asked that he stop making false statements about The Men's Program. I have refrained from more public responses, particularly given the personal tone he has taken. In short, I did not believe it would help to respond publicly to poorly reasoned, obviously personal attacks.
However, circumstances have now changed; particularly the more regular false statements Dr. Berkowitz is making. This document is my effort to inform readers of these false statements, so that you can objectively evaluate the value of The Men's Program. In addition, this document points out the lack of support for several arguments Dr. Berkowitz offers as to why you should either not use The Men's Program and/or why you should discount my opinions. By providing you with this information, my intention is to give you accurate information to make your own decisions. In doing so, my intention has also been to refrain from the type of personal attacks and false statements to which I have been subjected. I invite your thoughts and comments on this document or on any other issue. Please email me anytime at Foubert@wm.edu or call me at 757-221-2322.
False Statement Made by Dr. Berkowitz to Student Affairs Today Results in a Retraction
In an article in the July 2002 issue of Student Affairs Today titled "Experts debate program's claims3,” Dr. Berkowitz was quoted as saying "Men in a control group in Foubert's study also had a decrease in self-reported likelihood of raping.” This is a false statement. After I read this quote and informed the editor that she had printed a false statement, the editor contacted Dr. Berkowitz, who re-confirmed his quote4. On his website5, he quotes an article I published in the Journal of American College Health6 that contains the information that this control group did not decrease in likelihood of raping. This shows that he had information in his possession that he has cited, directly contradicting his confirmed statement. Student Affairs Today has subsequently issued a retraction7 to correct this misinformation. If it were true that the control group decreased in likelihood of raping, the results of the research on The Men's Program would be clearly undermined. Dr. Berkowitz was given and opportunity to retract this untrue statement and did not, stating that he needed more proof what he said was untrue4. Instead, Student Affairs Today simply gave the accurate information to its readers.
Are Foubert's Claims About The Men's Program Overstated?
The latest draft of the critique that Dr. Berkowitz hands people at conferences, sends to schools that use or are considering using The Men's Program, and has currently posted on his website8, is a revision of an earlier document titled "Are Foubert's Claims About The Men's Program Valid2?” His latest version is a revision written after he received a letter from me noting the places where he made untrue statements and questioning his logic in many sections. While the questionable logic remains, he has rephrased inaccurate information to word it as being his opinion. As I understand it, by stating that these false statements are his opinion instead of presenting them as fact, these statements can no longer be considered libelous. To correct the misleading statements and point out the weak logic, the remainder of the present document provides logical reasoning, evidence, and accurate information, addressing each section of Dr. Berkowitz's latest critique in sequence.
Overstated and Unsubstantiated Claims
Throughout his critique, Dr. Berkowitz weaves in the theme that I have a clear pattern of making overstated and unsubstantiated claims and that I engage in self promotion. When subjected to objective analysis, these accusations have no rational supporting evidence.
Dr. Berkowitz doubts the uniqueness of The Men's Program by noting its similarity to other programs. Similarity does not negate uniqueness. Like many rape prevention programs, The Men's Program shares common elements with other approaches, including its all-male, peer education format. Somewhat less common, though not unique, is its victim-empathy emphasis. Unique components include its being framed as a "How to Help a Sexual Assault Survivor” program in combination with a type of victim empathy approach whereby a video, copyrighted by my non-profit organization, is used describing a male-on-male rape experience. The combination of approaches in The Men's Program is unique. Dr. Berkowitz acknowledges unique components but disputes the program's uniqueness. Either the program is unique, or it is not. Having components that are similar to other programs does not nullify its unique nature and approach.
Men's Likelihood of Raping
Dr. Berkowitz states that the book The Men's Program implies that the program reduces the actual incidence of rape by stating that it lowers men's "likelihood of raping.” The book makes no claims to lowering actual rape incidence, and states clearly that the program has not been shown to do that. In addition, those who are familiar with rape prevention research know that since 1981, the behavioral-intent variable called "Likelihood of Raping” was defined by Neil Malamuth9 and has been used by countless studies since, including studies of The Men's Program. The Men's Program has been found to lower men's likelihood of raping. This does not mean that actual rapes decreased. This point is made clear in The Men's Program.
Duration of Change
In his "Are Foubert's Claims About The Men's Program Valid2?” version of his critique, Dr. Berkowitz disputed a statement I made on a conference handout10 that The Men's Program's effects last "longer than any other program in use today.” He pointed out that programs that have not been evaluated for the same length of time may work just as long, we just don't know. After hearing this, and finding it compelling, I immediately changed this handout and subsequent versions I distributed, and made Dr. Berkowitz aware of this change. However, even in his newest version of his critique, he quotes my outdated handout and repeats his criticism of the handout I no longer use. Similarly, I changed my statement that the effects of the program last "over three times longer than any other evaluated program in the research literature” to quoting a study evaluating all available research on rape prevention programs, which noted that The Men's Program's effects last longer than any other program evaluated in the research literature.11 Dr. Berkowitz has still not changed his critique of The Men's Program based on the current copies of my handouts that he has had for over a year. Rather, he criticizes an older handout I distributed and changed based on his feedback.
Dr. Berkowitz quotes a book review of the first edition of The Men's Program written by the author of another rape prevention program, Dr. Tracy Davis12. Dr. Berkowitz uses several quotes questioning the validity and presentation of several research findings.
For example, in his review, Dr. Davis criticizes The Men's Program for not mentioning aspects of the control group/experimental group relationship in the first chapter, but rather, including this information in an Appendix. What is left out of this critique is the fact that the first chapter of The Men's Program is a six page summary of the entire 116 page book. The rest of the book elaborates on this first chapter, going into specific details. Given strict page limits in publishing a book such as this, there was not room in the first six pages to include every intricacy of each study that was mentioned. However, a thorough job of this was done in the chapter that talked about each study, labeled Appendix A. What Dr. Tracy, as quoted by Dr. Berkowitz, also left out as context is that the study in question13 was an initial study with fewer subjects than later studies described in the book. In a later study with improved methodology and participant numbers6, the control group on the variable in question differed from the experimental group, as predicted. The larger point in this section was that ultimately, research showed significant declines in rape myth acceptance over seven months, and that this difference was significantly different from an unchanged control group. Details are fully described in the portion of the book in which this issue is more fully explained.
Dr. Berkowitz also quotes a statement by Dr. Davis that "since the control group 'did as good' as the experimental group, it might even be suggested that The Men's Program had no impact at all.” Both Dr. Davis and Dr. Berkowitz have information in their possession that solidly dismisses the suggestion that The Men's Program "had no impact at all.” Dr. Davis made this assertion based on the fact that in a study of The Men's Program, likelihood of raping on the follow-up posttest for the experimental group (who significantly improved) did not significantly differ from the follow-up posttest for the control group (who did not improve). As I note in an article6 and the book1, this is a limitation of the study's results regarding likelihood of raping. However, the conclusion that the program "had no impact at all” at a minimum, ignores the significant change in rape myth acceptance among program participants that significantly differed from the control group. This effect was significant at the p = .001 level. What this means is that there is a .1% likelihood that this effect was due to chance, and a 99.9% likelihood that the program had a significant impact. Thus, there is a 99.9% chance that Davis' statement "The Men's Program had no impact at all” is false.
What Will Work
In this section of his critique, Dr. Berkowitz suggests that the effectiveness of The Men's Program is due to it being all-male, peer facilitated, and interactive and not due to its central content - discussing a male-on-male rape scenario. The evidence Dr. Berkowitz cites as proof of this argument is yet another piece written by Dr. Tracy Davis14, who suggested an opinion (unproven scientifically) that format matters more than content in the presentation of rape prevention programs. If Dr. Berkowitz were correct, one would expect that all programs that were all-male, peer facilitated, and interactive would get the same results. Interestingly, a study published by the same Dr. Tracy Davis completely refutes Dr. Berkowitz's assertion. In his dissertation research15, Dr. Davis studied two rape prevention programs (one authored by Dr. Davis, the other authored by Dr. Berkowitz) that were all-male, peer facilitated, and interactive. The results of this research showed that rape myth acceptance declined immediately after presentation of each program, and rebounded to pretest levels approximately two months later. By contrast, The Men's Program, which is all-male, peer facilitated, interactive, and includes presentation of a male-on-male rape scenario, has been shown to lead to declines in rape myth acceptance that do not rebound, but rather, last for seven months. If being all-male, peer facilitated, and interactive were sufficient for a long-term effect, Dr. Davis would have found that his program and Dr. Berkowitz's program would have lasted for at least the 2 months he measured participants in his study. However, these participants rebounded to pretest levels. On the other hand, studies of The Men's Program including an evaluation of these three elements plus a discussion of a male-on-male rape scenario produced long-term effects6. Thus, one cannot say that the three conditions Dr. Berkowitz mentions are sufficient for results achieved by The Men's Program. If they were, Dr. Davis would found lasting change resulting from the two programs he studied. The major difference between the three approaches is the discussion of a male-on-male rape experience, and in that condition, long term results were clear.
Later in this section, Dr. Berkowitz states that "victim empathy programs are most effective when they offer scenarios of both male and female victims.” This statement is not supported by the research, nor is it supported by the reference Dr. Berkowitz cites16. Dr. Berkowitz cites a chapter "in press” that he wrote for the book Preventing Violence in Relationships, edited by Paul Schewe. In this chapter17, Dr. Berkowitz says that there are eight programs "which included both male and female victims” that produced attitude change. He uses this argument to suggest that The Men's Program is inadequate because it does not use a female victim's story. To support this point, Dr. Berkowitz refers the reader to an earlier chapter in the book written by Paul Schewe16. In Dr. Schewe's well-written, comprehensive chapter, not a single program is cited that includes both male and female victims. Rather, Dr. Schewe notes that The Men's Program is the only program to report clear long-term positive effects, that those programs involving women's stories were counterproductive, and that having males empathize with other male victims is a key part of more successful programs. In short, the reference Dr. Berkowitz cites states the opposite of what he claims. This misrepresentation is used to encourage readers to reject The Men's Program. However, if you look at the reference for yourself, you will see that the chapter does not support Dr. Berkowitz's false claims and instead notes that The Men's Program has been shown to work longer than any other program in the research literature16.
In Dr. Berkowitz's summary of his latest critique, he notes that a national organization, NO MORE, has been founded "which promotes The Men's Program without acknowledging the contribution of other programs.” The National Organization of Men's Outreach for Rape Education (www.nomorerape.org), a non-profit organization for which I have served as President since 1998, reached consensus at its founding meeting on a purpose of "educating men about rape using the most effective methods shown by scientific research studies.” Based on this mission and the current status of research literature, NO MORE promotes the use of The Men's Program. In my volunteer work with this non-profit organization I have made it clear that I will advocate for the use of whatever program has been shown to have the longest and strongest effects as shown by research, regardless of who authors the program.
As he criticizes this organization's mission, it is relevant to note that when NO MORE was founded, Dr. Berkowitz was invited to be part of the founding meeting where our mission was agreed upon, but declined the invitation. People from several states drove or flew in at their own expense for this founding meeting. When I invited Dr. Berkowitz to attend, he requested that the newly forming non-profit organization pay a consulting fee for his attendance. When told that was not possible, he asked that his expenses be covered. When told that the organization was still paying its fees to register as a non-profit organization and did not yet have money in the bank to cover anyone's expenses, and that everyone else was finding their own way to get there, Dr. Berkowitz chose not to attend.
According to the U.S. National Crime Victimization Survey, 28 women are sexually assaulted every hour in the United States18. With every hour that people involved in this movement make personal attacks, or in my case are forced to respond to them, we lose more valuable time in addressing this pervasive issue. There is much room for rational disagreement and open dialogue to further our collective mission. There is no room for false statements and personal attacks. My hope is that this will be the last occasion that I will have to spend any more valuable time addressing false statements and personal attacks that derail what I wish could be a common mission to end sexual violence. As the struggle to end sexual violence continues, I will continue to conduct and follow research wherever it leads in working to end this problem, and will devote myself totally to getting closer to promising solutions to hopefully work my non-profit organization out of business and direct my scholarly efforts to other issues. Until then, I will continue to advocate for the responsible application of research findings to our collective work and will remain steadfast in promoting whatever has been shown by research to be most effective in ending men's violence against women.
I hope that you, the reader, will look objectively at this field, what is said about different approaches, and reach your own conclusions about the path we should follow. I invite your dialogue in these matters.
John D. Foubert, Ph.D., President, NO MORE, Inc. and
Assistant Professor of Higher Education, The College of William and Mary