Men must challenge our views and beliefs about each other. A major obstacle will be to confront our traditional male socialization and how it limits us and boxes us in. We must get out of the socially defined roles that sexism, patriarchy, and male privilege provide for us. In addition, we must end our collusion with the violence, objectification and demeaning thoughts and behaviors that we as men engage in toward women. This will require that we address our fears and anxiety about stepping out of our—often harmfully—defined roles and challenge the traditional images of manhood. The fear of being perceived as “soft” or “weak” is an obstacle for many men that stops them from challenging sexist attitudes and behaviors, the hallmarks of male dominance. Social change requires courage, integrity, accountability to women and consistency through action. What is needed from men is to act in appropriate and respectful ways toward women. That will be the day when men, along with our sisters, have redefined manhood so that violence is not a part of being a man. As we promote and work to increase healthy and respectful manhood, we also prevent and work to decrease violence and discrimination against women and girls.
Ted Bunch is a cofounder of A Call to Men and conducts antiviolence trainings around the country. A version of this passage first appeared in the article “Men’s Role in Ending Violence Against Women”, (Voice Male, Fall 2006, page 8).