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Engaging men and boys in preventing violence against women: Part 1

Guest Blogger: Ryan Bliss

Pornography, prostitution, rape, sexual assault. Sexual, gender, and street harassment. Stalking, domestic violence, dating abuse. All of these actions can be prevented by a coordinated and strong movement for women that includes men. Men, however, must be educated. In order to pull more men into a movement that demands respect for women, men must see their “response-ability” to end sexism.

I was taught by society to reject weakness and “be a man.” Again and again, I simply looked on as racist, sexist, and homophobic attitudes developed in my fellow youth—and occasionally in myself. I was sometimes a victim of bullying, which gave me fear and anger towards certain types of men. Perhaps these are feelings I hold in common with many women, for I was mistreated predominantly by the male sex.

These commonalities are a critical part of reaching men. Getting started is often the most gut-wrenching part, but Rus Funk’s Reaching Men: Strategies for Preventing Sexist Attitudes, Behaviors, and Violence does an excellent job of providing exercises that promote active reading and reflection. Before men can change, they must want to change, and a knowledgeable, self-aware, and adaptable educator is crucial in that process. Though men face obstacles in becoming advocates for women, as Funk shows, a well-planned approach can create the educational environment necessary for cultivating a new definition of masculinity—one that recognizes the need for gender justice and an end to the violence.

Throughout Week Without Violence, I will be writing a series of posts inspired by Rus Funk’s processes for educating men. Be sure to check back every day this week for additional posts. Later in the year, I’ll add to the series by addressing the issues surrounding men’s engagement and working from within the movement.

Ryan Bliss is a senior at the University of Tennessee majoring in women’s studies and minoring in English. He volunteers at the Family Justice Center through the YWCA Enough! volunteer initiative, which assists survivors of domestic violence. He loves to ride his bike and help out in the community. He was raised in Kingsport, Tennessee, and has enjoyed living in Knoxville for six years now.   

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