"The women of Bikini Kill let guitarist Billy Karren be in their feminist punk band, but only if he's willing to just "do some shit." Being a feminist dude is like that. We may ask you to "do some shit" for the band, but you don't get to be Kathleen Hannah."--@heatherurehere

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Some Things Men Can Do

Guest-posting over at Thinking Girl, Kevin shares with us 10 things that men can do to end men's violence against women. There's a fairly interesting discussion going on in the comments at Thinking Girl, thought I'm still at a loss for why people seem to think that the list is supposed to be all-inclusive or definitive. Why is it that whenever somebody makes some suggestions at ways of being, that people so often take the suggestions as if they are supposed to be writ in stone and handed down by god? Sheesh. Kevin (via A Call to Men) made some suggestions--you can criticize them, sure, but I for one would like to thank A Call to Men for at least bringing some potential answers to the table. I hope Kevin doesn't mind us repeating them here:
1. Acknowledge and understand how sexism, male dominance and male privilege lay the foundation for all forms of violence against women.
2. Examine and challenge our individual sexism and the role that we play in supporting men who are abusive.
3. Recognize and stop colluding with other men by getting out of our socially defined roles, and take a stance to end violence against women.
4. Remember that our silence is affirming. When we choose not to speak out against men’s violence, we are supporting it.
5. Educate and re-educate our sons and other young men about our responsibility in ending men’s violence against women.
6.”Break out of the man box”- Challenge traditional images of manhood that stop us from actively taking a stand to end violence against women.
7. Accept and own our responsibility that violence against women will not end until men become part of the solution to end it. We must take an active role in creating a cultural and social shift that no longer tolerates violence against women.
8. Stop supporting the notion that men’s violence against women can end by providing treatment for individual men. Mental illness, lack of anger management skills, chemical dependency, stress, etc… are only excuses for men’s behavior. Violence against women is rooted in the historic oppression of women and the outgrowth of the socialization of men.
9. Take responsibility for creating appropriate and effective ways to develop systems to educate and hold men accountable.
10. Create systems of accountability to women in your community. Violence against women will end only when we take direction from those who understand it most, women.

Do I think that lots of what this list says is more complex than a list might indicate? Sure. Do I disagree with some of it? Yep. But I also think that it's worth noting that there's lots of good in this list, and, while it's a better starting point than ending point, such is the nature of lists like this. Let's see what good we can take away from it, shall we?

I like one general theme that runs through most of the items on this list: Men can and must make changes in order for violence against women by men to be affected in the ways we want. I disagree with some of the commentors that the list is saying that only men can change the situation--of course both men and women can do something to change the level of violence by men against women--but it's often the case that men aren't held accountable for the ways in which they can affect such change, and I think we ought to be. Does that mean that women can't help themselves? Nope. It does mean that men can make a difference, too.
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