WHAT MEN CAN DO TO END VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
- Words are very powerful, especially when spoken by people with power over others. We live in a society in which words are often used to put women down, where calling a girl or woman a “bitch,” “freak,” “whore,” “baby,” or “dog” is common. Such language sends a message that females are less than fully human. When we see women as inferior, it becomes easier to treat them with less respect, disregard their rights, and ignore their well-being.
- 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.
- Rape and relationship abuse won’t be taken seriously until everyone knows how common it is. In the U.S. alone, more than one million women and girls are raped each year (Rape in America, 1992). Approximately one in three women will be in an abusive relationship in their lifetime (Report on the American Psychological Association Presidential Task Force on Violence and the Family, 1996).
- Understand the arguments against pornography depicting adult women. Realize that the sex trade in this country is worth billions of dollars. Examine your thoughts about the existence of strip clubs, prostitution and related sex trade businesses. Question the purpose behind the proliferation of explicit and graphic sex sites on the Internet. Think about how eroticizing violent sex contributes to violence against women.
- You may never see a man abusing his partner or witness a rape, but you will see and hear attitudes and behaviors that degrade women and promote rape and abuse. When your best friend tells a joke about abusing women in some way, say you don’t find it funny. When you read an article that blames an abusive relationship survivor for being abused, write a letter to the editor. When laws are proposed that limit women’s rights, let politicians know that you won’t support them. Do anything but remain silent.
- Don’t engage in any forms of sexual harassment, such as wolf-whistling, cat-calling, unwanted touching, outrageous or inappropriate behavior. Women are not public property, available for our intrusions. Neither are men.
- Develop an awareness of the cultural supports for violence against women. Develop the ability to recognize myths which support violence against women.
- 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 fell 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.
Talk with women…
- About how violence against women and fear of violence against women affects their daily lives; about how they want to be supported if it has happened to them; about what they think men can do to prevent sexual violence. If you’re willing to listen, you can learn a lot from women about the impact of relationship abuse and how to stop it.
- Become an ally to the women in your life – do not participate in sexist behavior by objectifying or stereotyping women.
- Believe people when they tell you they’ve been raped or abused. Support what they say about it. Don’t ask about their behavior, what they were wearing, etc. Listen to them.
- Recognize that women neither ask for nor deserve to be raped or abused ever.
Talk with men…
- About how it feels to be seen as a potential abuser; about whether they know someone who’s been abused. Learn about how relationship abuse touches the lives of men and what we can do to stop it.
- 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.
- 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.
- Have the confidence to confront your own actions, beliefs, and opinions. Have the strength to look inside and admit your own faults and to commit to changing the way you think and act.
- Become educated and engaged. Attend training sessions, read books and articles, join a student group. Learn the myths and realities of violence against women and understand how our society condones it.
- Be aware of sexual stereotypes and how they influence attitudes and behaviors. Social roles and expectations may affect a man’s decisions about relationships. Men are taught that expressing feelings is not masculine. Examining your social role and learning ways to express feelings directly and non-violently can help to create deeper and more meaningful interpersonal relationships. You don’t have to prove yourself.
- Don’t have sex with anyone against their will. Be responsible with your penis. “Having an erection doesn’t mean you have to put it somewhere.” Take “no” for an answer, and heed the “no” equivalents (“stop,” “I don’t want to do that,” “I’m not ready,” etc.) Don’t assume that when women say “no” they really mean “maybe” or “yes.” It is never okay to use force or coercion. Don’t assume that because a woman dresses or flirts in a manner you consider to be sexy it means she wants to have sex with you.
- Don’t abuse girlfriends or partners. This includes controlling, intimidating, manipulative, threatening, and harmful behavior. Realize that abuse takes many forms, and that abuse is a choice. A partner always has the option of leaving the room or breaking up.
© 2009 Center for Relationship Abuse Awareness