What’s up, guys?
Some people are used to seeing women stand against sexual assaults as if it was only their problem. Guess what, it’s not. It’s everyone’s problem. The good news is that everyone can be part of the solution as well. Yes, guys, you can do something. And if you are a guy reading this article, remember this: this woman can be your daughter, wife, sister, mother or any other woman in your life that you care about.
That’s exactly what the nonprofit organization Men Can Stop Rape (MCSR) has been doing. They have chosen to be part of the solution. As they say, “our mission is to mobilize men to use their strength for creating cultures, free from violence, especially men’s violence against women”. These sound like beautiful words, but what is MCSR doing in practice?
One of the posters that are already hung on more than 300 college campuses walls across the US says: “When Karl kept harassing girls on the street, I said: Stop being a Jerk. I’m the kind of guy who takes a stand. Where do you stand?”. It’s part of the latest campaign launched by MCSR, called “Where Do You Stand?”, focused on college men -- and there is a good reason to focus specifically on this group. “Recent research suggests that men come to bystander intervention more slowly than women. We define ‘bystander intervention’ as doing or saying something to challenge harmful behaviors and attitudes present in situations that might contribute to sexual violence”, they say.
Patrick McGann, Director of Strategy and Planning in MCSR, knows that men play an important role in reducing violence against women. In a conversation with Kwema, he said that “from Men Can Stop Rape’s perspective, men can be allies with women in the prevention of sexual assault by challenging social norms that lead us to see and treat women and girls as ‘less than’. These norms make it easier to harm a person or group of people. ‘Where Do You Stand?’ represents men saying no to ‘less than’ and yes to standing together with women and girls as allies.”
Considering the acceptance of the campaign in hundreds of colleges, apparently college men are pivoting from “this is not my business” to “I stand with women”. The Director of Alumni & Development, College of Education & Human Services of Western Illinois University, Jennie Hemingway, has an opinion about why this is happening. “The ‘Where Do You Stand?’ campaign meets men where they are and gets their attention, she says. “We chose to work with Men Can Stop Rape (MCSR) because their campaigns and trainings stand out. Not only are they based on sound principles of men’s development, but we know they have a proven track record of creating meaningful change on campuses.”
They are not alone. The website of the Millennials Project, another nonprofit organization, says in its homepage: “We have to include men in this global movement to resolve the complex issues that negatively impacts women’s lives”. The org is focused on raising awareness of domestic violence and to educate Millennial men about their important role to end the gender gap. Why Millennials? Because they are more open to change, they say. Or should I say that WE are more open to change, since I’m a Millennial too? Whatever. This year’s campaign, called Better Men, is challenging 1 million men to step up and end domestic violence.
“I started the project to build a grassroots movement of male allies and advocate for gender equality”, said the founder, Christian Guerrier, via email. “Violence is the greatest barrier to social progress and economic growth, my organization focuses most of our energy to raise awareness and prevent gender-based violence. Violence is the greatest barrier to social progress and economic growth, my organization focuses most of our energy to raise awareness and prevent gender-based violence. The awareness starts at home. When fathers begin to take responsibilities in being an example for their sons and daughters in the household by learning to do the work that were supposedly and culturally assigned to women only, that will be a major contribution to closing the gender gap.”
The fact is: the group of people that are part of the solution is growing. Side note, it’s a man who is typing all these words right here. Thanks for reading, by the way. And you, where do you stand?