Men’s Responsibility in Ending Violence Against Women: Part One

In Sexual Assault Awareness on April 30, 2011 at 7:46 am

Men dominate. They dominate the political and the social landscape, and they have done so for as long as history has been recorded (The Gendered Society, 2000). Men have overwhelmingly held positions of power throughout history and have actively kept women from those positions (Ibid., 2000). Men’s violence against women has served as a tool for men to keep themselves in positions of power (Ibid., 2000). Women have always questioned this male supremacy, but have always been shut down and had their voices silenced. Women, however, slowly but surely began to make headway in their demands for equal rights. They began with advocating for women’s suffrage, and achieved their goal in the US with the nineteenth amendment. It was this success that began a wellspring of thought and activism, coupled with women’s mass integration into the workforce during World War II, inspired by the civil rights movement women’s activism made enormous strides during the 1960’s and 70’s . But where were the men in all of this? Surprisingly, men have always supported women’s equality, however, those men were very few. When women began, in mass numbers, to question the violence perpetrated against them, many men joined them is challenging men’s violence. Men formed anti-sexist organizations across the US and began to challenge their own attitudes and behaviors. Unfortunately, those organizations failed but once again men are beginning to reject the sexism and misogyny and violence against women in our society, and at the same time are rejecting the hurtful notions of masculinity. Change is slow, and the sheer enormity and intricacy of patriarchy makes that change even more difficult. The question of how exactly to get men to change is still being answered, at the same time the ideas that this change is predicated on are still being explored by both men and women. Change, however, is happening across the world, men are finding their voice, with the help and guidance of women, to challenge oppression in all its forms and the movement to end men’s violence is getting a strong foothold.

We see and hear about violence against women all of the time. We see it in movies, on tv, and in the music we listen to. We know its a problem, but just how big of a problem is it? For the past thirty years the issues of rape, sexual assault, and domestic violence have been studied and its prevalence measured. It has been shown that as many as 1 in 6 women has experienced rape or attempted rape within their lifetime (Tjaden, P. & Thoennes, N., 1997). It is estimated that every two minutes a woman is sexually assaulted in the US (U.S. Department of Justice. 2007 National Crime Victimization Survey. 2007). Overwhelmingly these crimes are committed by someone that the victim knows, defying the stereotype of the man in the dark alley. It is known that one third of female murder victims, are killed by an intimate partner, and the rate of female homicides perpetrated by an intimate partner is increasing. (U.S. Department of Justice. 2004 National Crime Victimization Survey. 2004). These statistics create an environment for women which is defined by some as “sexual terrorism” (Sheffield, 2007). Women’s daily lives are affected by the threat of violence, they apparently cannot even go five minutes without being assaulted. The problem with these statistics is that they are not accurate, this is not an issue of poor research methods, but rather because this kind of violence is the most underreported. It is estimated that 60% of sexual assault goes unreported (U.S. Department of Justice.2005 National Crime Victimization Study. 2005). Thus, the problem is even greater than we can even see. And who exactly is committing these crimes? It is overwhelmingly men.

  1. […] Men’s Responsibility in Ending Violence Against Women: Part One (rcasa.wordpress.com) […]

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