Rape and sexual assault, sexual harassment, street harassment, stalking, domestic and dating violence, sex trafficking and sexual exploitation…have historically been defined and recognized as “women’s issues.” To a large degree this makes enormous sense: it is by and large women who are impacted by these forms of violence and abuse; beyond the women who are directly victimized, women much more significantly than men feel the “threat affect” of these forms of violence and abuse; it has largely been women who have been responsible for the availability of resources, services and programs to respond to and prevent these forms of violence and abuse; and the social movement to end gender based violence came out of the women’s movement of the 1970’s and 1980’s. Preventing gender based violence has, to a large degree, been seen as a part of the agenda of women’s empowerment.
Framing sexual and intimate partner violence, however, squarely as a “men’s issue” means positioning these forms of violence and abuse within the radar of most men, and as a result, invites them to join efforts of responding and preventing. Defining sexual and intimate partner violence as a men’s issue is NOT the same thing as saying “all men are abusive.” What this is saying is that (like women), all men are impacted by some men’s violent behaviors and (also like women) all men can do something to help (either responding or preventing). BUT, men are impacted, in many ways, differently than the ways that women are impacted. The Own It Initiative (www.menownit.org) of The Center for Women and Families, provides men with tools, resources and opportunities to find and create ways to “own” our part in responding to and preventing sexual and intimate partner violence. Own It also creates communities of men who are striving to “own it” in their own lives. If you or someone you know are a man who is doing your part to “own it,” consider becoming a part of the growing community of men who are doing so publicly and share your story at FreeYourselfGobal.com or with the hashtag #FreeYourself. Click here for the full article on why violence against women should be a men’s issue, written by Rus Ervin Funk, Coordinator of Male Engagement at The Center for Women and Families.
Jackson Katz perfectly elaborates upon this concept in his TED Talk video. He points out that these “so called women’s issues” are intrinsically men’s issues — and shows how these violent behaviors are tied to definitions of manhood. A clarion call for us all — women and men — to call out unacceptable behavior and be leaders of change.
Click here for the amazing Ted Talk video.