One of my tasks at WSCADV is to compile all the feedback we get at our annual conference. I actually look forward to it—I love reading both the praise and the critical feedback. I love that people care enough to let us know what they really think, even when it’s not always positive. After our last conference, one comment made my briskly typing fingers pause: “Where are all the men?” She went on to list her concerns that she believed she’d gotten involved in a movement that hated and devalued men (I’m paraphrasing here), which was not what she’d signed up for.
My knee-jerk reaction was dismissal. How ridiculous! Everyone working in this movement knows and loves men somewhere in their lives—it felt like she was trotting out that tired old saw about man-hating feminists again. But then I paused and thought about it: it’s actually a really great question. Where are the men? Our conference attendees reflect people working in domestic violence programs across the state. While there are men working in these organizations, advocates are overwhelmingly women. But if we have any hope of real, lasting change and eradicating domestic violence, men have to be involved—deeply. It just isn’t possible any other way.
To that end, I want to highlight just a few men and male-led initiatives that I’m aware of. This has been a pretty rough time with all the violence in the news, and I think we need to hear stories of men—and everyone—who are doing good work in their communities.
- Tony Porter and A Call To Men: I first heard of Tony Porter through his engaging, powerful appearance on TED Talks. I love the way he challenges us to envision new ways of “acting like a man.”
- Men Stopping Violence: Part of their mission is to “dismantle belief systems, social structures and institutional practices that oppress women and children and dehumanize men themselves.” In other words, they are focused on getting to the root of the problem.
- Men Against Rape and Sexism: There isn’t one core national organization, but versions of this exist on many campuses across the U.S. The group at the University of Minnesota was my first exposure to men who were actively working towards ending violence against women.
- The White Ribbon Campaign: An interesting project that uses design to advocate for a new kind of manhood.
Please feel free to list others in the comments, and to share your thoughts on how men can be allies to the movement to end violence.