Sexual and Domestic Violence: Whose Problem is it, Anyway?
For the past 40 years, women have done courageous work running rape crisis centers, battered women’s agencies, 24-hour hotlines and safe houses. They have led the way in working with policy makers across the country to revise and reform the institutional responses to sexual violence, including assault and harassment, as well as reforming the public and private response to domestic violence-related crimes.
It is time for well meaning men to acknowledge that this is a male problem. Some men have been involved in these efforts as advocates, concerned citizens, or community professionals. The vast majority of men, however, have been passive bystanders to the violence and the precursors to violence around them, while a staggering number of men have been beating and raping women and children. It is time for well meaning men to act!
Men are often engaged in interactions in locker rooms, at hunting camps, or in office cubicles that support notions of women’s sexual objectification and social subordination. Having participated in these interactions personally, men are uniquely qualified to call them into question and challenge other men, helping dispel the myths and reveal the consequences of these all too common exchanges.
What men can do
Men are in a unique position to change the social norms that support sexual and domestic violence occurs. Since men commit over 90% of the violence, we need men to help with the solution. A broad network of men is needed to align with the voices and historically groundbreaking activities of women to prevent violence.
Our communities need:
Men who will promote fair and safe relationships.
Men who create and support healthy, joyful, sexuality.
Men who will stand up and denounce the objectification and exploitation of women.
Men who will promote promote the dignity and equal human potential of everyone.
Top ten reasons to get involved
From the Family Violence Prevention Fund:
Most men do not approve of men’s violence, yet do nothing to challenge or stop it – these men need to be mobilized to prevent violence.
Some men are already working to prevent violence but lack support; many more would like to get involved but don’t know how.
Many women want men to step up and take a stand against violence.
Men commit most of the violence – it is up to them to stop it
Men are not born violent-they become violent as a result of beliefs and norms about what it means to be a man. Work with men and boys can change these beliefs and norms and support men in rejecting violence
Men have the potential to stop violence. Not only can they choose to not perpetrate acts of violence, they can choose to challenge the attitudes and assumptions that support gender-based violence.
Gender-based violence continues despite years of anti-violence work. The missing piece is effective violence prevention work with men. (For statistics on violence in the United States, see Get the Facts.)
Men experience violence too-many are survivors but few get the support they need to heal from their experience. (See RAINN Statistics for data on men experiencing sexual assault.)
Men and boys listen to their peers-we need to mobilize men and boys to spread the violence prevention message in their families, workplaces, and communities.
Decision makers and opinion leaders are mostly men-we need to work with them to get the political, financial, and moral support necessary to prevent gender-based violence.