It’s a Man’s Issue

It’s a Man’s Issue
Curtis Rayment
Words by Stacey Carrick

When a close friend was sexually assaulted, Curtis Rayment felt angry and helpless.

Curtis decided to take action. He channelled these feelings into creating ‘It’s a Man’s Issue’, an initiative which aims to educate and foster a positive change amongst young men and women aged 12 to 18 focusing on sexual assault, rape culture, harassment, consent, victim blaming, toxic masculinity, bystander training and healthy relationships.

In the aftermath of his friend’s assault, Curtis reflected on the way he and his peers referred to women. He realised that as a teen, no one had spoken to him about consent.

“It started a few years ago when a close friend was raped by a chap in my social circle,” he said.

“I found it really difficult because I had a really poor understanding of issues like sexual assault and consent, because no one had ever had a conversation with me about it.

“I had conversations about what sex was, but no one ever spoke to me about what consent was. I think that’s the story for a lot of young people – I don’t think I’m unique in that sense.

“I have had this conversation with thousands of people and almost always none of them had had a conversation about consent before.

“I have very good parents, I went to a very good school and even with all of those points in my favour I still didn’t have that direct conversation about what consent is.”

Curtis, who is now 25 and graduated last year from JCU with a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery, said his friend’s assault made him feel very reflective.

“It made me look inward at the stuff I’d been doing in the past, including my behaviours and my views. That’s what made me very motivated to start having conversations.

“I think people have this idea that talking about these subjects is uncomfortable.

“And it’s also something that they feel is left up to somebody else. When students are asked ‘Who talks to you about consent?’ it’s a mixed bag between parents, friends and schools, there is no clear answer.

“Schools weren’t mandated to talk to students about consent until last year.

“This is a really good step in the right direction – I also think it’s an issue that lots of adults don’t understand very well.

“Unfortunately 25 percent of Australians – when they hear of a woman being raped, believe that she has made up that allegation to get back at the man.

“So if you look at what our views are across Australia, it’s no wonder why some adults aren’t having these conversations with their kids.

“It’s probably even more sad that a lot of these people are probably having the opposite conversation, these kids are growing up with violence enforcing a completely different belief system. The belief system being that she deserved it. Like ‘what was she doing, what did she think was gonna happen when she wore that skirt’.

“That’s victim blaming, which is very much alive in Australia.”

Curtis said in Australia, before a girl turns 15, one in three Australian women have been sexually harassed or sexually assaulted.

A statistic he believes could actually be much higher because there’s such a poor understanding of what sexual harassment and assault are.
Curtis said toxic masculinity ties in with some of these issues.

“Looking at sexual assault, the reason I talk about it, is sexual violence, sexual assault is very much so a gendered issue in effect that almost always it’s men committing the violence against women, and almost always it’s women that are the victims,” he said.

“It’s very much a gendered issue, and men get afraid when I talk about it being a man’s issue because they feel defensive. And they say ‘well I haven’t raped somebody’ or ‘I haven’t assaulted someone’.

“But it is important for young men to become part of the solution and part of the conversation because young men have the most potential at changing another young man’s opinion or belief system.

“So if my friend calls out and says a misogynistic joke it should be my responsibility as his mate to call him up and say ‘that’s not funny’. Lots of studies have shown that the reason why young men will say a misogynistic joke is because they think it is what other men will find funny and that will give them some social standing across their friendship groups.

“And these are the same issues or the same reasons that mean men are much more likely to commit suicide and much more likely to suffer from depression but not seek medical help or to talk to somebody about it.”

Curtis said men that are in the ‘man box’ are more likely to commit suicide, more likely to commit sexual assault, less likely to talk about their mental health and more likely to die in a car crash.

“There are issues that when I talk about sexual assault and gendered violence, often young men don’t see it as a problem because it’s not something that they’ve had to deal with directly, but most young men know somebody that killed themselves, young men know somebody that died doing something silly in a car, so it’s very easy to draw the parallels about these issues and to turn the lightbulb on to make them start asking the right questions and to start thinking critically about these issues,” he said.

“I always talk about your ‘sphere of influence’, which means never underestimating the power of an individual.

“Chances are, is that everyone else around you is feeling that same way, but none of them have that self confidence to speak up and say something about it.”

Curtis said we need to redefine the way that we look at strength and toughness.

“I think it’s certainly cool if you can lift a thousand kilos, it’s really cool if you’re a really good boxer, but I also think it’s really cool and really tough if you’re confident enough to stand up for something you believe in and stand up to your mates about an issue that you feel is important,” he said.

“I think it’s very, very tough to stand up and give somebody the voice. I think it’s very tough and very cool. For putting your hand up and saying ‘you know I’m struggling at the moment’ or ‘I’m not feeling quite right in the head’.

“I think that’s very tough and takes a lot of strength. And I think just with our cultural norms, those things aren’t celebrated enough.”

As a result of his efforts to educate today’s youth, Curtis was even nominated for Young Australian of the Year 2023.

He has now delivered his program to more than 5000 students across Far North Queensland schools, sporting groups and youth organisations.
In December last year, the Zonta Club of Cairns proudly hosted a presentation by Curtis, which aimed to inform local organisations about his program.
Cairns Regional Council and combined Rotary Clubs of Cairns supported and partnered with Zonta Cairns for this event, which was attended by representatives from 13 different organisations including schools, Centacare, domestic violence services, community liaison officers and counselling services.

Curtis has invited local schools, sporting clubs and youth-oriented organisations to reach out to him if you would like further information about the program or if you would like to engage his services.

Please visit or email Curtis at