About Joshua

Joshua Phillips has been actively advocating against sexual violence since 2003 when he joined Sexual Aggression Peer Advocates at Central Michigan University. Since then he has had the privilege of presenting countless programs on his campus and throughout the United States.

Because he situates sexual violence as a cultural issue, his education philosophy is that we must be actively against sexual violence instead of passively for it.

Learn more »

Next Event

November 2-4, 2011


More events »

The Book

1,800 Miles:Striving to End Sexual Violence One Step at a Time

Sexual violence is a cultural issue that affects millions of people and the violence will not stop if we continually choose to collectively ignore it. Three college friends understood this concept and decided to do something more proactive. So with few resources and minimal funding, they headed to Miami in the summer of 2008 to begin a walk that would take them all the way to Boston in an effort to raise awareness about sexual violence.

Learn more »


Spanish speaking woman and 2 children killed in NYC

The title of this news article says it all “Woman Files Domestic Abuse Report in Spanish. Police Never Translate it to English. Now the Worst Thing Imaginable has Happened to Her and Her Daughters.”

In a smaller police force, the lack of ability to translate from Spanish-to-English is understandable. But NYC?


Audrie Pott committed suicide after sexual assault

Click here to see the full report from

“Three teenage boys have admitted to sexually assaulting a 15-year-old Northern California girl who later committed suicide after photographs of the attack were circulated to classmates, according to published reports.”

When are we going to start talking to our young men in an effort to prevent these types of tragic situations?


The final verdict in the Maryville, MO rape case?

Last week it was announced that the alleged perpetrator in the “Nightmare in Maryville” rape case plead guilty to misdemeanor child endangerment. Misdemeanor child endangerment seems like a slap on the wrist considering an adult dropped-off an intoxicated child in her front yard, in the middle of the night, in the freezing cold. I can’t believe that’s only a misdemeanor.

As of now, it doesn’t seem like rape charges will be pursued even though medical examiners concluded that a sexual assault took place. But, we’ll stay posted.


La Casa de Ninos

An email from my friend Jenty (help her out if you can):

I got the opportunity this winter to volunteer for a couple of months in Mexico at a home in Queretaro for students from rural communities.  During the holidays, the students have all been away with their families, so I spent a lot of time with my friend Kaylin, who is spending her second winter volunteering at a home for abandoned, neglected, and abused boys ages 6-13.  These boys have welcomed me into their lives and touched my heart– they are a rambunctious and lovely group of boys, and spending Christmas and New Year’s Eve with them was such a blessing.  Unfortunately, the government has cut funding to all “non-essential” organizations until April, and the organization that runs the home falls into this category.  Kaylin has created a website with more information and a secure way to donate to the home, and I’m including a link to the website:

Please share with anyone you feel might be interested, and give if you can.  Thanks so much!



Jameis Winston Update

Shortly after Florida State won the BCS Championship, attorney Patrica Carroll announced that she would be filing suit against the Tallahassee Police Dept. in what she claims was a botched sexual assault case. In short, Carroll claims that Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston wasn’t fully investigated in a sexual assault case because he was an elite Florida State football player. To read the full story, click here.


Utah State University, Inclusive Excellence Conference

Last October, I was fortunate enough to be a part of Utah State University’s Inclusive Excellence Conference. I provided the opening keynote as well as gave a workshop on sexual violence and pop-culture. The opening keynote is posted online here.


New Chapter on LeBron James, the NBA, and Race

The book Sports and Identity was published this month. I co-authored a chapter for the book entitled “LeBron James as Cybercolonized Spectacle.” Essentially, it’s about the treatment he received after “The Decision” to leave Cleveland for Miami. Check it out!


News from Steubenville

While this situation is not directly related to the rape case that put two football players in jail last year, Steubenville, Ohio’s school district is taking steps to actively combat sexual abuse in its school. Here we have a principle charged with failing to report a crime against a minor. While she’ll only be responsible for completing 40 hours of community service, it at least indicates that some changes are coming to Steubenville with regard to the handling of abuse claims and hopefully, this will translate into larger changes around the country.


Teenage girl from Maryville tries to commit suicide

A case that has been floating around the internet for the last two years is back in the news. A teenage girl from Maryville, MO has attempted suicide for the third time after an alleged rape happened in 2012. In short, she claimed she was raped by a classmate, police dropped charges against the alleged perpetrator, and she became the target on online harassment. You can read more details about the so-called “Nightmare in Maryville” story here.


The inevitability of Steubenville

In the last year there’s been a lot of media attention on two young high school football players from Steubenville, Ohio. In March 2013, these two young men were found guilty of sexual assault and will each be spending the next year to two years of their young lives in prison. The story leading up to their convictions is, sadly, a fairly common story. In short, high school students had a party where alcohol was involved. A young girl drank too much and was in and out of consciousness. Her friends started taking inappropriate pictures of her and these two young men ended up sexually assaulting her. The next morning she had no idea what happened and only knew that she had been assaulted because videos and pictures began circulating on social media.

It was a fairly straight forward sexual assault case, but oddly, that’s not what most concerned me. What most concerned me were the interviews done with the young men leading up to their conviction. In no uncertain terms, each young man told the media “yes” they had sex with her, but “no” they didn’t think that having sex with a girl who was throwing-up and stumbling drunk was sexual assault.

As an anti-sexual violence educator, the scary thing for me is that I believe those young men. I truly believe that those two young men think that what they did was perfectly acceptable behavior and didn’t constitute sexual assault. Under the veil of ignorance, the attitudes of these young men – and many young men throughout the world – make sexual violence inevitable.

For this reason, we must continue to engage with young men about issues of sexual violence and sexual consent. We have to change the cavalier mentality toward sexual violence and these conversations start with educators, advocates, fathers, and friends.

We can do this by introducing young men to the issue of sexual violence every day. Combating this issue every day can be exhausting, yet it is necessary when we consider the every day sexualization, dehumanization, and marginalization of women. The unpopular truth is that we have created a predatory culture through our music, movies, language, and actions. Therefore, we must constantly work to change that culture. Changing the culture means that we must be willing to speak up and offer alternative narratives on masculinity on a daily basis.

Currently, many young men make fun of the weaker guy because he’s physically weak or he cries. We praise the greatest athletes even when they’ve been convicted of rape or domestic violence. Think about that for a second. An athlete can be convicted of rape and it’s all good as long as he can still compete at the highest level. An athlete can beat his wife and it’s all good as long as he can still win a championship.

Most young men would rather “read” Maxim or Playboy magazine than gender conscious scholarships. Now folks can read whatever they’d like, but we have to get young men to start admitting that Playboy is likely giving them a different view of women than the books they’d read in a Gender Communication class. These messages matter.

And finally, young men try to intimate other men by telling them “You throw like a girl” or “Don’t be gay.” We put other men down by calling them women and gay? What message does that send?

To be a “real” man you have to be aggressive, physically dominating, violent, assertive, and have lots of sex with the sexiest women…and you can’t be gay. This is the culture we live in. These are the expectations that are placed on young men. We are constantly trying to prove our masculinity. Asserting one’s manhood through dominance and power over women has to stop if we desire to put an end to sexual violence.

In her book The Will to Change, bell hooks states that “Mass media are a powerful vehicle for teaching the art of the possible. Enlightened men must claim it as the space of their public voice and create a progressive popular culture that will teach men how to connect with others, how to communicate, how to love.”

Young men are hungry for alternative messages on masculinity and they need messengers to bring these ideas to them! They don’t need more people telling them what not to do. They need more people telling them what to do. Young men need role models who are living this type of anti-sexual violence lifestyle through their every day interactions.

I cannot tell you the number of college-age men – and sometimes older – who have told me their stories of feeling isolated when it comes to engaging with the issue of sexual violence. They want to do something about this type of violence and they need to know that they are welcomed to join this struggle. They need to see role models who are engaged with this type of work. Get them a book. Find them a documentary, a website, a magazine, or music; anything that will show them other men engaged with this issue.

For those of you who missed the Steubenville case, well, unfortunately, there are two similar investigations that recently began in Canada and Los Angeles. Like I said, this is a fairly common story. In both instances, some high school boys gang-raped a classmate. In Canada and L.A., each group thought it would be a good laugh to videotape the assault and pass it around to everyone in an effort to humiliate the girls. No one who viewed that videotape said, “Hey that’s sexual assault, I’m going to turn this video over to police.” Instead, each victim was harassed so much that they ended up committing suicide. In Canada, Rehtaeh Parsons on April 4, 2013 and in Los Angeles, Audrie Pott over Labor Day weekend of 2012. Now, not every survivor commits suicide. But some do turn to pills, alcohol, eating disorders, cutting, or other self-destructive behaviors to cope. In the end, we have to change the culture that shapes young men’s attitudes about sexual violence or these devastating events remain inevitable.