February 08, 2016

What About Men?


Category: About Us, Gender-Based Violence, LGBTQ, Men

We sent out an email back in May that generated a lot of conversation.  As we have recently unveiled our new name, mission, and vision, we thought it would be nice to share this great piece by our Board Member, Danielle Prince, once again. So, join us in the conversation: “What about the men?”

Way back at the annual meeting in January 2015, we announced that we would be working with Rusty George Creative on the re-naming and re-branding of the Coalition.  I am lucky as I have an insider’s perspective – as a board member it is thrilling to see the work coming together.

At the annual meeting we also asked our members what questions they thought the public would ask about our new potential name.  We heard 60 questions about domestic violence, sexual assault and other forms of gender-based violence (GBV). Of those 60 questions, almost a third were some variation of “What about men?”.

So, what about men?  What the term “gender-based violence” conveys is that certain forms of violence and abuse are deeply rooted in sexism and gender roles and we are all hurt by that. Men experience abuse. And, women are sometimes abusive. However, last year’s social media explosion after the Isla Vista killing spree aptly summarizes the reality of GBV: #notallmen BUT #yesallwomen. The hashtag campaigns demonstrate that while not all men actively engage in violence, abuse, or harassment, virtually all women have experienced some form of gender-based violence, abuse, or harrasment in their lives.

So what is it about patriarchy that harms men?  Men are supposed to “be strong/tough/in control” and too often this translates into violence.  Conversely, men are not supposed to be “soft/emotional/empathetic” – attributes usually attached to women.  According to the dominant definition, being a man is to reject the feminine, amputating core aspects of his humanity.

The Mask You Live In is a powerful documentary, recently released by the Representation Project, that unpacks the damage done by the hyper-masculine norms of the dominant U.S. culture.  It shows the damage done to men and boys who struggle meet an unattainable and dehumanizing standard of what it means to “be a man”.  This documentary captures, convincingly, horrifyingly, the effects of patriarchy and GBV on men.  It answers the question (and stimulates more) “What about the men?”.

We encourage everyone to view the trailer and to see the movie with us on Saturday, April 2nd at the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center.  The doors open at 2:30 and screening begins at 3pm.  The movie will be followed by a panel discussion.  Tickets will be available soon!

We also encourage everyone to continue the dialogue, challenging and illuminating as it can be, about gender-based violence.  Our work is cut out for us.  Clearly, as men, women, LGBTQ people – as human beings – we are in it together.