High School Boys Say No to Violence
High school boys are learning to say no to sexual assault and domestic violence.
Two greater Chicago organizationsare collaborating on the Allied Against Violence Project, which recently “graduated” 38 teenage males from an Evanston, Illinois high school.
Youth Organizations Umbrella (Y.O.U.) and the YWCA Evanston/North Shore received a grant of $350,000 through the Department of Justice’s Violence Against Women office to design a program to more effectively reduce dating violence.
The comprehensive approach includes services for victims, prevention programs, partnering with schools, and engaging men and boys in ending violence against women. The grant is one of only 20 such awards made nationally.
The goal is “to create a space for these young men to develop their own sense of what healthy masculinity looks like to them,” says Jacob Hostetter, who directs the antiviolence project. The program engages young men in conversations about unhealthy norms that can lead to domestic violence and sexual assault. During the 10-week program, which meets after school twice a week, the boys discuss teen dating violence, media stereotypes and conflict resolution, Hostetter says. Graduates will now pass on their knowledge to middle school boys in other after-school programs.
Sophomore Noah McKay said one of the most important discussions the group had involved what it means to be a man. Although many students said a man must be physically strong, powerful and unemotional, McKay disagreed. “A man is gentle, loving, kind, strong mentally. He shows emotion because not showing emotion can build anger.” Plans call for 15 graduate interns to develop a public awareness campaign to educate the larger community about violence prevention.
No Men, No Cry
More male students taking gender studies classes? That’s what a Jamaican researcher has discovered. Dr. Leith Dunn, a senior lecturer and director of the Institute for Gender and Development Studies (IGDS) at the University of the West Indies, reports an increase in the number of men pursuing gender studies. The Kingston-based professor attributes the rise to a global shift in focus on women to gender and development in gender studies departments. The result? More courses incorporating issues faced by male students, including parental rights and the role of men in traditionally female-populated occupations.
At UWI, men have emerged from these classes more committed to gender equality and more aware of gender, Prof. Dunn noted. Through IGDS activities tailored for male students, the program has been successful in promoting men’s awareness of sexual discrimination and their own treatment of women. The growth of gender studies has allowed “men to become aware of the role of gender-based expectations and power structures, both in society at large and in their interpersonal relationships,” according to Prof. Dunn. Men previously uninterested in the subject are increasingly committed to promoting human rights and overturning oppressive practices of female subordination.
HeForShe Part Two
As a follow-up to the announcement last fall of the HeForShe campaign, actor Emma Watson unveiled HeForShe’s new IMPACT 10x10x10 initiative to accelerate momentum in advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment. The year-long program will engage governments, corporations and universities as instruments of change among communities most in need of addressing deficiencies in advancing women’s empowerment and gender equality. IMPACT 10x10x10 sees those institutions as having the greatest capacity to make and influence those changes. Each sector will identify approaches for addressing gender inequality, and test the effectiveness of such interventions for growth. Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Watson said, “The groundswell of response we have received in support for HeForShe tells us we are tapping into what the world wants: to be a part of change. Now we have to channel that energy into purposeful action.” http://www.heforshe.org/Strategy/
Boys n Toys
Wonder Crew, a fledgling Massachusetts-based toy company, is developing a line of toys to encourage empathy, emotional intelligence, and strong relationships among boys. Called “Crewmates,” they’re a cross between action figures and a child’s favorite stuffed animal, according to Wonder Crew founder Laurel Wilder. A psychotherapist and mother, Wilder says, “Toys influence the way kids think about themselves and the world around them,” so by developing toys that depart from traditional narratives of masculinity she hopes to foster healthier messages about what it means for “boys to be boys.”
Wilder says she was inspired to create Wonder Crew after her son came home from preschool and told her “boys aren’t supposed to cry.” Dissatisfied with the emphasis in boys’ toys on muscles and violence—which set boyhood goals few can achieve—she noted, “If you want anything nurturing, or empathetic, or even friendship oriented, you have to go to the “pink aisle…” When it comes to boys’ toys, Wilder says, “Action figures have a way of prescribing how boy’s play. My goal with Wonder Crew is for kids to create their own narrative.” Wonder Crew is initiating a Kickstarter campaign this spring to fund initial production of the toys. The first run will feature the Crewmate “Will” as a superhero, a rock star, and a builder. Future products will include a diversity of races, genders, and adventures. To learn more, go to www.wondercrew.com.
Keep Your Laws off My Body
Missouri State Rep. Rick Brattin looks like a corn-fed linebacker from Middle America U.
Truth be told the legislator has suited up to try and sack women’s reproductive rights. In a career marked by efforts to criminalize legal abortion, the 34-year-old Republican has proposed legislation requiring adult women to seek permission from the baby’s father before being allowed to terminate a pregnancy. Brattin says his bill would allow exemptions for pregnancy resulting from rape but only if the rape is “legitimate”—reported to police and proven as a rape. In cases of deceased fathers, women would need to provide a death certificate.
Ohio proposed similar legislation in 2009, but it died in committee, as legislative observers believe Brattin’s bill will. If the proposed legislation does progress in Missouri, it’s unlikely to be enacted because of a 1979 Supreme Court ruling (Planned Parenthood v. Danforth), making illegal requiring spousal permission prior to an abortion. Nevertheless, Brattin’s proposed law could be one more hurdle for Missouri women seeking abortions, and leave the door open for potential lawsuits from biological fathers who want to have control over abortion decisions.
I Am (Wo)Man
The UN Women Knowledge Gateway initiated a new campaign in February to promote women’s economic empowerment.
I Am (Wo)man is rallying women and men from around the world to speak out about the importance of women’s economic empowerment.
Men were particularly encouraged to be vocal. Members of MenEngage, the global alliance of some 700 NGOs that support gender equality, were among the networks UN Women wanted to reach. “I think this can be an opportunity for MenEngage members to visibly express support for women’s economic empowerment,” said Joni van De Sand, MenEngage global coordinator.
The first phase of I Am Wo(man) called for submissions of photos and captions sharing one’s commitment to action on behalf of women’s economic empowerment through digital and social media. The campaign encouraged first-person multimedia stories of women who have made a difference in an individual’s life, or that of their family or community, because they were economically empowered.
Stories of men who benefited from an economically empowered woman were also sought.
People interested in participating can upload their photo and caption at EmpowerWomen.org. For more information, write firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Winding Road to Equality
Members of an anti-violence organization in Mexico City have designed a board game to educate participants about sexual violence and gender inequality. The Men’s Movement for Equitable, Nonviolent Relationships (Centro MHORESVI A.C.) created the “Snail of Equity” game, as a “tool to generate a playful, fun process of reflection and reeducation.”
The four creators of the game—like the rest of the organization’s members—work as volunteers to support men who have renounced violent behavior. They hope that introducing the Snail of Equity will make the work “more fun and less threatening for those who, out of curiosity or necessity, are questioning what it means to be a man (or woman) in this patriarchal culture and in so doing, raise awareness about the possibility of identifying, preventing, and eradicating gendered violence,” says German Ortiz Pacheco, one of the game’s creators.
The rules on the back of the board begin by advising players to play “without stress, anxiety, worry, or any pressure to compete to ‘win.’” They ask participants to prepare themselves to “listen and learn new concepts and ideas that may seem strange, uncomfortable, or unfamiliar.”
As players move along the winding path of the snail’s shell, they encounter concepts such as “empathy,” “commitment,” “communication,” “culture of equity,” “trust,” “security,” “gender roles,” and ”sexual violence,” which are among the many terms defined in the comprehensive glossary the group prepared.
MHORESVI currently distributes the game to the men in their groups, and their friends and families. In the days ahead they hope it will spread to feminist, LGBTQ and indigenous organizations, among others. To learn more, go to https://mhoresvi.wordpress.com.
One Man Can in Sudan
In Sudan, efforts to address gender-based violence typically have focused on women and girls. Men and boys are often left out of the conversation, or worse, are portrayed only as perpetrators of violence. Rarely are they viewed as agents of change. The One Man Can (OMC) initiative believes that real change requires men and boys to be active partners in preventing violence against women and girls. Launched in South Africa by SONKE Gender Justice Network, OMC “supports men and boys to take action to end domestic and sexual violence and to promote healthy, equitable relationships that both men and women can enjoy passionately, respectfully and fully.”
Through OMC, South Sudan’s Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration Program (DDR) has been working closely with the UN Development Program and SONKE to prevent violence against Sudanese women. As part of postwar social reintegration efforts, a priority is engaging men and boys to work to prevent violence in postconflict communities.
When the One Man Can manual was piloted in wartorn communities in the states of Blue Nile, South Kordofan, and Khartoum, efforts focused not just on reintegrating male and female ex-combatants into their communities, but also on encouraging their peaceful coexistence with other residents.
Given the success of these efforts—and follow-up outreach activities by One Man Can trainers in leading coed reflection-discussion groups on gender and violence—the manual was replicated in other areas of Sudan. In the past five years, more than 500 peer educators and community facilitators were trained, and 100,000 men and women in South Kordofan and Blue Nile have been reached through OMC campaigns. Participants include religious and community leaders, teachers, and youth ambassadors.
Since 2013, the One Man Can national network has grown to include 34 NGOs working across Sudan.
Resisting Patriarchy in Latin America
Activists, researchers, and public policy makers across Latin America and the Caribbean met in Chile in January for the region’s Fifth International Symposium on the Study on Men and Masculinities. The conference, “Patriarchy in the 21st Century: Changes and Resistance,” explored transformative actions promoting gender equality, especially those involving men.
Delegates to the gathering in Santiago came from throughout Latin America. Topics included masculinity and violence, fathers as caregivers, men’s health, sexuality and reproductive rights, sexual diversity and homophobia, sexual exploitation, trafficking and sex work.
Radio Educación, producers of Entre Hombres (Among Men)—an ongoing series of sound explorations to discover what contemporary Mexican men are thinking through interviews across Mexico’s 32 states—aired a report on the symposium.
Voice Male editor Rob Okun was a guest on Entre Hombres in December after attending a meeting in Mexico City of the country’s chapter of the global MenEngage Alliance (Cómplices por la equidad). It can be heard at: www.entrehombres.net/128-2do-simposio-globalmenengageindia-rob-okunprimera-parte/.
In Memoriam: the Cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo
That the four slain cartoonists for the French satirical journal, Charlie Hebdo, could be crude no one would deny. They were also fiercely radical and their body of work championed France’s rich history supporting freedom of expression.
The deceased—Stéphane Charbonnier, the editor, 47, known as Charb, and cartoonists Georges Wolinski, 80, Jean Cabut, 77, and Bernard Verlhac, 57—were among the 12 people murdered in the January attack at the newspaper’s Paris office.
To Daniel Leconte they were “like columnists for a very important journal.” Leconte is a filmmaker who was making a documentary about the cartoonists when they were murdered.
“Voice Male celebrates these men’s commitment to speaking truth to power,” said editor Rob Okun. “Their voices may have been silenced, but artists from around the world are stepping in to take their place. Je suis Charlie.”