by Cat Cleary
As a Women’s Studies major at a women’s college, I was often confronted with one particular misconception. I am a woman, my classmates were women, and together many of us were working to combat the wage gap, violence against women, and a whole host of other social issues relating to gender inequity. That’s the way it should be, right? These are issues that directly affect women, so women should be the ones working to fix them, right?
The misconception that I often faced was that issues commonly labeled “women’s issues” are often mistaken for what they truly are: social issues. Gender-based violence and harassment, pay inequity, and low numbers of women serving in the U.S. Congress are not simply issues that affect women, and thus must be addressed by men as well.
I can happily say that in the movement against violence against women, many men are doing just that. Of the many incredible organizations working to engage men to end sexual and relationship violence in the United States, I have chosen to highlight three:
1. Men Can Stop Rape: MCSR’s “mission is to mobilize men to use their strength for creating cultures free from violence, especially men’s violence against women.” Men Can Stop Rape’s youth program the Men of Strength Club, college program Campus Men of Strength Club, and Strength Media awareness materials have already reached millions of people.
2. Men Stopping Violence: MSV “is a social change organization dedicated to ending men’s violence against women.” For over 30 years, Men Stopping Violence has provided training and programming in an effort to build safer communities for all.
3. A Call To Men: A Call To Men is a leading national men’s organization addressing domestic and sexual violence prevention whose purpose is “to influence change in men’s behavior through a re-education and training process that promotes healthy manhood.”
Engaging men in the movement against violence against women recognizes, among many things, that violence against women is a social issue and requires a coordinated community response. As a woman active in this movement, learning of and working with organizations such as these three gives me immense hope for the future.