Violence Against Women: A Man’s Issue

September 12, 2014

Yes, violence against women is a man’s issue.  It’s not only a man’s issue (obviously, violence against women affects women and children and non-human animals and, and), but it gets tiring to read all the defensive responses when someone points out that it is also a man’s issue.  This should be non-controversial. Given that

  1. societal and intimiate partner and sexual violence/abuse comes mostly from men
  2. men are most likely to be victimized by other men
  3. women who abuse tend to be taking on masculine gender roles

this is definitely a problem of masculinity that men need to address.  Since gender roles co-exist, this is a problem of patriarchy, namely, the rigid, unrealistic (for most people) gender roles patriarchy imposes on us all.  men need to participate in that conversation about ending patriarchy and replacing it with something more anarchistic — that is, lacking a rigid hierarchy, that is, allowing people to negotiate their gender roles on (inter)personal levels without culturally imposing a bunch of crappy baggage on us all.

In this way, feminism means liberation…for us all!   The only people I hear complaining about feminism are those (usually men) who seem to fear “losing control” over women, and who often seem to view women as inherently narcissistic or sociopathic (and use that as a justification for their behavior).

Ironically, these dudes are also victims of patriarchy, as well, whether its the social shame/victim blaming of being a male victim of sexual/domestic violence or child abuse (though it is high for everyone), not living up to unrealistic expectations of “what it means to be a man,” (which leads to other men/women policing their behavior, shame and overcompensation), developing unhealthy and counterproductive views of women, having to navigate the minefield of homophobia, or any number of other issues.  Feminism brings these issues up, like a societal-scale counselor, or a messenger.   Each time we raise the issue, some men try to shoot the messenger rather than address the actual issue.  Can you imagine how different the US would be today if people decided to shoot Paul Revere rather than heed his warning?  ha!

Women have been asking for men to participate in these conversations for decades.  Each year, more and more men listen to that call, and more and more men express the courage to step up and participate, for a number of reasons:  for their own sake (because they are sick of patriarchy), for the sake of their loved ones, for the sake of their relationships, and for the sake of the social fabric of our society (a fabric that domestic and sexual violence and its patriarchal underpinnings rips to shreds), and others.

James Brown’s wonderful speech is an example of that trend toward liberation.  Let’s keep on it!

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Quote of the Day: Diamonds and Sex Trafficking

March 14, 2011

“A diamond is forever”

Here’s some cultural context for you in an analysis of this new phenomenon of the “GFE” in prostitution:

[…]Dude, talk about buying someone heart and soul.

Then of course there’s the entitlement aspect. The men who engage in such a thing not only believe that it’s right and appropriate to buy away a woman’s loathing of them and that she should act like she likes it, but they also believe that they, for whatever reason, have a right to a relationship. They have a right to buy another human being, use it, discard it, and she should pretend that she enjoys it.

A local anti-sexist activist of faith here (where I live) regularly talks about how “the culture is a pimp for all our girls and women.”   In other words, Read the rest of this entry »


Same old question: Where are the men?

November 2, 2010

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. However, according to sociologist Dr. Evan Stark, the term “domestic violence” is a bit of a misnomer: Up until they try to leave, abuse survivors experience “coercive control” — a spectrum of instrumental violence consisting of intimidation, isolation, and physical abuse meant to maintain an abuser’s power. Thus, the abuse survivors experience is not necessarily domestic, nor is it physically violent. As such, abuse survivors often face three difficult options: Stay with the abuser and live in terror, try to leave and risk serious harm, or try to neutralize their abuser.

Toward the end of last year, several women and children in the Portland-metro area tried to leave their abusers behind. As a result, their abusers murdered them. Under the lead of the Portland Women’s Crisis Line, the community responded with a vigil. During this month of October, 2010, my thoughts turn back to my experience at that vigil last year…

As horrific as these murders are, an abuser’s final homicidal tendencies are just the tip of the iceberg of what abuse survivors experience daily in our communities. They live their lives in an atrocious terror that is completely preventable, and their murders are flash points, like lightning on a stormy horizon. The storm of violence will continue to surge in our communities and terrorize our loved ones if we keep ignoring the warning signs and their underlying causes. When will we commit ourselves to acting as a community?

Let me clarify who I mean when I say, “we.” Read the rest of this entry »


violence against women is not the problem

November 2, 2010

As a bit of a preface, I am writing this as an activist working to end men’s violence against women. So this essay is largely a self-critical analysis of how I situate myself amongst the strategic landscape of the movement for gender justice.

Abuse, as Dr. Evan Stark argues in his book Coercive Control, is fundamentally a crime against liberty. Physical violence is, at most, merely instrumental to the purpose of subjugating women. Physical violence has been a powerful force in keeping women down, but is by no means the only (or even most) effective tactic available to agents of patriarchy (of any gender ;). Since feminists have successfully unearthed Read the rest of this entry »


Quote of the Day: Gender (e)Qualities

December 2, 2009

Thomas over at Feministing posed a great question in response to the movie trailer for the new film, An Emasculating Truth:

So I’ve been thinking about this, and I keep coming back to a question that I can’t answer:

What positive qualities do I want to see in a son that I don’t want to see in a daughter?

I can’t think of any.

Great question.  Hopefully, it stumps most everyone.  Hardcore sexists, maybe not so much.  But in the least, it’s a great conversation starter.


Celebrating success and being constructive

November 25, 2009

When we think about the “anti-violence movement,” it is predicated on “ending violence.”  On undoing a negative.  On not doing bad.  With this focus, it is easy to ignore rather than actively pursue the good.  To overlook and dismiss rather than recognize and celebrate successes.  This can have a draining effect on activists, and can stall further progress.  It is a competition for our time and energy between

  1. criticizing what’s wrong in the past and present state of affairs on the one hand, and
  2. envisioning, identifying and pursuing the characteristics of a better world on the other hand.

Which is why I’m very happy to see Popular Science, of all magazines, take a lead on celebrating the successes of feminism by highlighting three women geniuses.

Read the rest of this entry »


Quote of the day: Feministing

November 19, 2009

UPDATE:  Alex Dibranco is a woman.  And I still love her question.  Thank you to Alex for the correction.

Courtney over at Feministing have put together a compilation of various men’s thoughts in response to her previous post, which discusses alternatives to “toxic masculinity” (e.g., Tucker Max).  My personal favorite (either by Courtney or David Pitcher — I can’t tell) echoes sentiments I expressed in response to a local outbreak of domestic violence murder-suicides:

Boys are so paranoid about appearing feminine that they adapt a “culture of cruelty” and retreat into the common male role. How can we raise our boys to break this pattern?

To answer this question, a little further up, Alex Dibranco ventures:

What if Read the rest of this entry »