Engaging Men & Boys

 

Engaging Men & Youth to Prevent Violence Against Women

Work with men and boys is crucial if we are to prevent violence against women.

Current prevention strategies typically address women and girls as victims or potential victims and portray men as perpetrators or potential perpetrators. Often the focus is on how women and girls can avoid abuse by boyfriends or husbands or sexual assault by strangers or acquaintances. While this work is valuable, these are risk-reduction, not prevention strategies: they teach women and girls how to avoid victimization, but they don’t work to reduce the number of men who use violence.

We need more strategies that get to the roots of gender-based violence. Strategies that look closely at the roles and responsibilities of men and boys. Strategies that challenge cultural norms and the institutions that reinforce rape, battering, and sexist attitudes. Strategies that examine how gender-based violence connects with gender socialization—and strategies that offer healthy ways to raise boys and girls to be men and women.

Although most men are not violent toward women, many men have not been offered the opportunity to join prevention efforts. Many don’t recognize their own responsibility and ability to help. This needs to change. Men’s participation is essential if we are to progress from helping some people avoid violence to actually ending it.

To Learn More visit Engaging Men: Futures Without Violence

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TEN THINGS MEN CAN DO TO PREVENT GENDER VIOLENCE

  1. Approach gender violence as a MEN’S issue involving men of all ages and socioeconomic, racial and ethnic backgrounds. View men not only as perpetrators or possible offenders, but as empowered bystanders who can confront abusive peers
  2. If  a brother, friend, classmate, or teammate is abusing his female partner — or is disrespectful or abusive to girls and women in general — don’t look the other way. If you feel comfortable doing so, try to talk to him about it. Urge him to seek help. Or if you don’t know what to do, consult a friend, a parent, a professor, or a counselor. DON’T REMAIN SILENT.
  3. Have the courage to look inward. Question your own attitudes. Don’t be defensive when something you do or say ends up hurting someone else. Try hard to understand how your own attitudes and actions might inadvertently perpetuate sexism and violence, and work toward changing them.
  4. If you suspect that a woman close to you is being abused or has been sexually assaulted, gently ask if you can help.
  5. If you are emotionally, psychologically, physically, or sexually abusive to women, or have been in the past, seek professional help NOW.
  6. Be an ally to women who are working to end all forms of gender violence. Support the work of campus-based women’s centers. Attend “Take Back the Night” rallies and other public events. Raise money for community-based rape crisis centers and battered women’s shelters. If you belong to a team or fraternity, or another student group, organize a fundraiser.
  7. Recognize and speak out against homophobia and gay-bashing. Discrimination and violence against lesbians and gays are wrong in and of themselves. This abuse also has direct links to sexism (eg. the sexual orientation of men who speak out against sexism is often questioned, a conscious or unconscious strategy intended to silence them. This is a key reason few men do so).
  8. Attend programs, take courses, watch films, and read articles and books about multicultural masculinities, gender inequality, and the root causes of gender violence.  Educate yourself and others about how larger social forces affect the conflicts between individual men and women.
  9. Don’t fund sexism. Refuse to purchase any magazine, rent any video, subscribe to any Web site, or buy any music that portrays girls or women in a sexually degrading or abusive manner. Protest sexism in the media.
  10. Mentor and teach young boys about how to be men in ways that don’t involve degrading or abusing girls and women. Volunteer to work with gender violence prevention programs, including anti-sexist men’s programs. Lead by example

Copyright 1999, Jackson Katz. www.jacksonkatz.com / Jackson Katz