Editor's note: This blog entry comes from Tony Porter, co-founder of Tides Project A CALL TO MEN. Jump below to see a video of Tony's TED Talk.
People always ask me, “Why do you do this work, speaking to men about ending violence against women? Did something happen to you as a child? Was your father a batterer? Were you sexually molested as a child? Were you a batterer”? And when I answer “no” to all of the above, people look at me strangely trying to make sense of why a man would take such a “public” interest in ending violence against women.
I have thought about this a lot myself. I would like to say that my interest was purely based on doing the right thing. But the truth of the matter is I spent many years challenging our social construct as it relates to racism, and then broadening my position to include all forms of group oppression. It was during this time that women in and around my life began to challenge me on “my sexism.” At first I was very insulted, thinking (and sometimes verbalizing), “I’m a good guy, I’m no sexist." This remained my mindset for quite some time. Only through a series of events that challenged me did I begin to dismantle my cherished belief.
Throughout it all these women invested time and energy in me; I must admit I was not always a good student. In their wisdom they knew that the day had come when men needed to take a stance and work with other men to end violence against women. I happen to be one of the men they blessed with a lot of patience, tolerance and unconditional love.
Over the next five years I immersed myself in learning, owning and addressing my sexism and the collective domination of men. I began to understand that domestic violence, sexual assault and all other forms of violence against women are rooted in a sexist, male dominating society.
What Ted Bunch (the other Co-founder of A CALL TO MEN) and I have come to understand is that there are three key aspects of male socialization that create, normalize, and maintain violence against women: men viewing women as “less than,” men treating women as “property,” and men seeing women as “sexual objects.” All three are major contributors to violence against women, perpetuated consciously or not by all men, including the good guys. It is this collective socialization that allows the bad guys to be who they are in the presence of good men without challenge.
We believe it's time for those of us who are good guys to begin to acknowledge the role male privilege and socialization play in domestic violence, sexual assault and violence against women in general. It’s time for us to claim the collective responsibility we have in ending violence against women. It’s time to Stand Up! and Speak Out! Get Involved and become part of the solution to ending violence against women.
Be sure to take a look at Tony's speech given as part of the TEDWomen series:
The co-founder of A CALL TO MEN, Tony Porter is an educator and activist who has been working in the social justice arena for over twenty years. He is nationally and internationally recognized for his effort to end men's violence against women.
From September 11 to 14, 2011, A CALL TO MEN will hold its first Academy for community organizing & leadership training in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The purpose of the A CALL TO MEN Academy is to bring men and women together to engage in an intensive 4-day hands-on, inspirational and transformational experience. The primary goal is to assist men and women in their development as trainers and community organizers in order to advance efforts to engage men and boys in domestic and sexual violence prevention. To learn more and to register, visit their site.
Header image is of a Mens Breakfast hosted by Fox Valley Voices of Men in Appleton, Wisconsin, featuring the East High School Football Team.