What can men do to end violence against women, fight the patriarchy, and combat misogyny?
- Approach gender violence as a MEN’S issue involving men of all ages, socioeconomic, racial and ethnic backgrounds. View men not only as perpetrators or possible offenders, but as empowered bystanders who can confront abusive peers.
- 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 counsellor. DON’T REMAIN SILENT.
- 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 towards changing them.
- If you suspect that a woman close to you is being abused or has been sexually assaulted, gently ask if you can help.
- If you are emotionally, psychologically, physically, or sexually abusive to women, or have been in the past, seek professional help NOW.
- Be an ally to women who are working to end all forms of gender violence. Support the work of campus-based women’s centres. Attend “Take Back the Night” rallies and other public events. Raise money for community-based rape crisis centres and battered women’s shelters. If you belong to a team or fraternity, or another student group, organise a fundraiser.
- Recognise 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 (e.g. the sexual orientation of men who speak out against sexism is often questioned, as a conscious or unconscious strategy intended to silence them and a key reason few men do so.)
- Attend programmes, 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.
- 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.
- 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 programmes, including anti-sexist men’s programmes. Lead by example.
Copyright 1999, Jackson Katz. www.jacksonkatz.com