Yes, I am tired of men hurting women. And yes, men are responsible because men belong to the current culture of manhood that allows this — a culture that says men can’t show fear, can’t be wrong, and are entitled to power over others, especially women.
A culture that tells men they are not allowed to be afraid is a culture that denies our own humanity as men. And if we’re not allowed to be human, then we become something else. constructions of masculinity — of what it means to be a man — play a crucial role in shaping violence against women. This is true at the individual level, in families and relationships, in communities, and societies as a whole.
But that culture is wrong, and unless we actively work to change it, women will keep getting hurt. Male violence against women is rife — and it’s getting worse. We need a new, inclusive form of masculinity to eliminate it.
So what exactly can be done to increase the number of men doing gender violence prevention work?What specific strategies could motivate significantly greater numbers of men to join a movement?
First of all, we must raise the bar for what it means to be a ‘decent bloke’, a ‘nice guy’. To stop violence against women, well-meaning men must do more than merely avoid perpetrating the grossest forms of physical or sexual violence themselves. Men must strive for equitable and respectful relationships. They must challenge the violence of other men. And they must work to undermine the social and cultural supports for violence against women evident in communities throughout the world — the sexist and violence-supportive norms, the callous behaviors, and the gender inequalities which feed violence against women. By challenging male conformity, we can put the onus of ending abuse against women where it belongs — with men who perpetrate it.
More ways to reduce violence against women and girls:
- 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.
Violence against women is not only an issue of injustice or inequality, but one of health. Violence has a significant impact on women’s health and well-being — not just in terms of injury and premature death, but in terms of mental health problems including attempted suicide and self-harm, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, substance abuse, and poor reproductive health. It is so, so sad.
Of course, not all men commit abuse against women. But all must condemn it. To the extent that men stay silent in the face of other men’s violence against women, they are not perpetrators but perpetuators, allowing this violence to continue. So, efforts to prevent violence against women must address men because largely it is men who perpetrate this violence.
Violence against women is a men’s issue. This violence harms the women and girls men love, gives all men like myself a bad name, is perpetrated by men other men know, and will only stop when the majority of men step up to help create a culture in which it is unthinkable.
Let’s start a movement — a movement of men who aren’t afraid to stop violence against women.
Men’s involvement in a movement like Real Women Real Stories is the only way we can achieve long-lasting, societal change.