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  • 19 Dec 2023 3:27 PM | Craig Norberg-Bohm (Administrator)

    What does NAMEN Represent?  A Story of Gentleness

    Imagine that Gentleness was the highest value of Manliness

    A Story of Gentleness

    Once upon a time in a small village nestled among rolling hills, there lived a wise and kind-hearted father named Samuel and his young son, Ethan. Samuel was known throughout the village for his unwavering commitment to gender equality and his belief that gentleness was a true sign of strength.

    One sunny afternoon, as the golden rays of the sun painted the world with warmth, Samuel decided it was time to pass on his cherished values to Ethan. They embarked on a walk through the lush forest that bordered their village, a place where the echoes of nature's wisdom resonated.

    "Father, why do you always say that gentleness is strength?" Ethan asked, his curious eyes reflecting his innocence.

    Samuel smiled down at his son. "Well, Ethan, let me tell you a story to explain. Once, there was a mighty river that flowed through this forest, its currents powerful and unyielding. People feared the river's strength, for it could be wild and dangerous. But one day, the river met a gentle breeze."

    Ethan's brow furrowed. "A breeze, Father? How can something so gentle affect something as strong as a river?"

    Samuel nodded. "You see, Ethan, the gentle breeze did something remarkable. Instead of trying to overpower the river, it whispered to it. It said, 'Dear river, your strength is admirable, but have you ever tried being gentle?'"

    Ethan looked intrigued. "What happened next, Father?"

    "The river listened to the gentle breeze," Samuel continued. "It decided to slow down and meander gently, carrying life and tranquility to the forest. People could now drink from its waters, and animals found a peaceful place to drink. The river's gentleness became its strength, for it nourished and nurtured all living beings."

    Ethan pondered his father's words as they continued their walk. "So, Father, you mean that being gentle can make a person strong too?"

    "Yes, my dear," Samuel replied. "Just like the river, when you show kindness, compassion, and respect to others, you become strong in a different way. You create harmony and happiness, making the world a better place."

    Ethan smiled, understanding the valuable lesson his father had taught him. "I want to be strong like the river, Father, and gentle like the breeze."

    Samuel ruffled his son's hair with affection. "That's my boy. Remember, Ethan, true strength lies not in physical might but in the kindness and gentleness you show to others. By doing so, you can help create a world where everyone is treated equally and with respect."

    As the sun began its descent behind the hills, father and son continued their walk, hand in hand. They knew that, together, they would carry the torch of gender equality and the power of gentleness into the future, leaving a legacy of love and compassion for generations to come.

    And so, in that small village among the rolling hills, the wisdom of Samuel was passed down through the ages, a testament to the enduring strength of gentleness and the enduring legacy of a loving father and his son.

  • 02 Mar 2023 4:30 PM | Craig Norberg-Bohm (Administrator)

    Dear NAMEN member organizations, individuals and affiliates,

    It is with great pleasure that NAMEN announces its innovative member support program “One on One with Coach”, a comprehensive member engagement initiative, providing a myriad of opportunities, tailor-made for both local and regional participating programs seeking counsel, guidance and resources in the furtherance of their mission. 

    In these personalized sessions, NAMEN will present a host of supportive services articulated as ‘critical needs’ by organizations across the United States and Canada.  Topical areas including; Peer Program Review / Technical Assistance / Resource Sharing / Capacity Building Techniques / Regional Networking Channels / Male Engagement Strategies and Gender Equality Methodologies, utilizing the expertise of NAMEN Board Members, MenEngage Alliance and International Leaders in the field. 

    In 2022, NAMEN was awarded a generous grant to conduct an international Policy Report, canvassing the community based organizations rooted in the work of promoting Gender Equality, Domestic Violence Prevention, Anti-colonization and Intersectionality focusing on engaging men and boys in this quest.

    As a result of the in depth outreach process conducted, including noted grassroots nonprofits, community based feminist organizations led by women of color and prolific indigenous community programs,  the findings indicate that a gap exists within the sphere of programmatic development and sustainable male impact, combined with areas of national / regional collaboration and creative resource development, key pillars in NAMEN’s mission.

    To amplify this point, key questions emanating from  the Policy Report were raised highlighting the collective need for support articulated by local organizations and NAMEN’s continued role as a convener of supportive services and networking;

         ‘Many perspectives around engaging men seem to center on men and boys of color as whole people but not on encouraging action by men and boys of color in direct support of gender equality initiatives.  Groups operated by men of color focused on engaging men to question the role that violence, ideas surrounding violence, and patterns of violence play in their ability to show health-seeking behavior. 

          We note that the significant theme amongst these groups, and we imagine a similar pattern exists across all of the regions we are discussing, is that the work is taking place at almost a hyper-local level. These communities are deeply impacted by their work. Systemic approaches seem to be less critical-and perhaps less feasible-than community level change. 

         Should we assume that these organizations see value in aligning themselves with national efforts or organizations? Are there additional resources available based on their engagement? Is a national approach more effective at ending gender-based violence and transforming masculinities in their communities than a hyperlocal focus?’(1)

    Therefore, we look forward to addressing these questions and resolving these topical issues brought forth on behalf of NAMEN members as we know there is strength in unity and collective work, sharing the best practices, methodologies and male engagement strategies proven effective over time.

    To begin the “One on One with Coach” sessions, whereby a preliminary discussion and program assessment will be conducted, simply contact Coach Lynn; Stevan@namenmenengage.org and a doodle poll will be sent, requesting convenient dates and times for the consultation. 

    1. {NAMEN Policy Report 2022; Engaging Men & Transforming Masculinities from Critical Perspectives in the U.S and Canada: A Multi-sector Research Report. Assagai.C Author}

  • 15 Nov 2022 4:07 PM | Craig Norberg-Bohm (Administrator)

    Good day team and welcome to the "NAMEN on the Move" kick off of "Coach’s Corner", highlighting best practices, strategies and techniques in “Responsible Fatherhood” led by NAMEN’s own Coach Lynn a 30-year veteran in the responsible fatherhood movement worldwide.

    Today’s session goes straight to the heart of the responsible fatherhood campaign, addressing the misconceived notion that care-giving from a man’s point of view, solely means providing financially with little to no effort displayed in maintaining the home and or taking on the duties of caregiver particularly in raising newborns to 3 years of age.  This archaic notion is without merit and or substance, as it is clear when a father takes pride in maintaining his home or “Castle” (as we like to call it) while joyfully supporting the mother in physically caring for the children’s needs, his acceptance of this role shows strength, sacrifice  commitment and love for his family, which as time goes by is emulated, particularly from his sons eagerly seeking to follow in their father's footsteps. 

    Long gone are the days when the household chores and raising of the children were heaped on the woman, leaving behind the notion this work was secondary and non-consequential, for as those who have excitedly taken on this responsibility can attest, caring for the family is a full-time job, paying very little if anything and requiring a management skill unmatched in the traditional work arena. This phenomenon was studied in-depth by the International Fatherhood Engagement Organization Men Care, with the findings provided in its recent State of the Worlds Fathers report issued in 2021.  As stated in the report under the title “Thinking Structurally: Seven Actions Toward A More Caring World” (pg.7) “Men’s full participation in care work is part of a necessary and urgent revolution to center care in economies, societies and lives.” (www.Men-Care.org) The report goes on to recommend seven actions to achieve this objective supported by a myriad of women’s organizations, social justice organizations and noted feminists, singularly focused on addressing the inequity of past acceptance and practices. They are as follows:

    Action I:    Put in place national care policies and campaigns that recognize, reduce and redistribute care work equally between men and women.

    Action II:   Provide equal, job-protected, fully paid parental leave for all parents as a national policy.

    Action III:  Design and expand social protection programs to redistribute care equally between women and men, while keeping a focus on the needs and rights of women and girls.

    Action IV:  Transform health sector institutions to promote fathers’ involvement from the prenatal period through birth and childhood and men’s involvement as caregivers.

    Action V:   Promote an ethic of male care in school's media and other key institutions in which social norms are created and reinforced.

    Action VI:  Change workplace conditions, culture and policies to support workers caregiving-and mandate those changes in national legislation.

    Action VII:  Hold male political leaders accountable for their support of care policies, while advocating for women’s equality in political leadership.

    These fundamental actions will support the furtherance of equitable caregiving from both genders, and thereby enrich the parenting experience for the caregivers and most importantly the children. 

    Fatherhood…Deeds not Words!

    Ref: www.stateoftheworldsfathers.org

  • 09 Jun 2022 3:48 PM | Craig Norberg-Bohm (Administrator)

    In support of the diverse and committed NAMEN membership, NAMEN on the Move announces its signature segment; NAMEN Member Spotlight, highlighting the phenomenal work in the field of engaging men and boys in gender equality, non-violence and nurturing masculinity best practices across North America. 

    In our inaugural edition, NAMEN is proud to introduce a veteran member and noted advocate Dr. F. Persia Jamshidi, founder and CEO of the powerful initiative Feminist For Men Inc., a leading organization in promoting Positive Masculinity across the United States. With a keen focus on the organization's mission, providing much needed support for Men and Single Fathers who are going through a rough patch with a goal to reduce mental health struggles, violence and suicie rates, Dr. Jamshidi has created an innovative outreach and intervention program whose groundbreaking research has studied over 7000 men around the World. 

    Led by Dr. Jamshidi, Feminist For Men Inc. is comprised of a group of life-long feminist who believe strongly in the pillars of feminism. In her professional training as a leading cancer scientist, Dr. Jamshidi revealed disturbing statistics pertaining to male suicide rates and homelessness, delving deeply into identifying root causes, and subsequently began her indepth research into masculinity, cracking the code in response to the growing epidemic. 

    In 2020, the Positive Masculinity Academy was established, an educational for profit entity, highlighting honorable men whose lives act as a beacon for promoting positive masculinity and whose mission is to eradicate insecure masculinity and the myths / misconceptions often viewed as normal within society. 

    With a new book on the horizon titled “The Masculinity Handbook” and an online course deemed “Men Mastering Self Worth”, Feminist For Men Inc. will continue its mission, with the ultimate goal of reducing the rate of suicide and violence amongst men dramatically. www.feministsformen.org

  • 23 Aug 2020 9:42 AM | Craig Norberg-Bohm (Administrator)

    North American MenEngage Network’s Journey of Organizational Change

    Shane Joseph MSW, RSW  & Dr. Steven Botkin, NAMEN Board Co-Chairs

    Over the past several years, the North American MenEngage Network (NAMEN) has been deliberately (albeit slowly) engaging in a process of “decolonization.” While we did not use this term at the beginning, we were committed to transforming ourselves from a network of predominantly older white male gender activists to an organization where marginalized voices are centered and new generations of leadership are developed. We understood that this process would require deep changes individually, interpersonally, institutionally and culturally.

    Our partnership, as a younger black Caribbean man and an older white Jewish man, has been a critical part of this process. Supporting and challenging each other, we are building trust and learning skills in shared leadership. 

    One of our first steps was to facilitate changes in the composition of NAMEN’s leadership team. For several years, all nominees for new Steering Committee members were required to be people who were women and people of color. As an increasingly diverse Steering Committee, we are engaging in difficult conversations challenging patterns of white male dominance, and deepening our understandings of intersectionality, privilege and accountability. 

    We have committed to ensuring that intersectional lenses are applied in all our engagements to tackle the systems of oppressions, dominance and discrimination.  We believe that the multi ideas, opinions and suggestions matter if we are to truly value and appreciate the whole.  This has been a welcoming phenomenon by many but a very challenging one for others.  However, it is non-negotiable if we are to mean what we say and say what we mean.  

    Out of these conversations, we are developing formal and informal internal practices to put into action a lot of what we have been dreaming, thinking and saying. All of our Board meetings now include reflection time from quiet voices, and also time for dominant voices to reflect on the dynamics of privilege. We have even pushed the bar a bit further where the white bodies who have acknowledged their power and privileges are now meeting and discussing while holding each other accountable.  Persons of color are also welcomed to participate as witnesses to the conversation and to promote continued accountability and safety.  This we see as a defining approach or practice towards decolonizing what and how we do things.

    NAMEN is also creating public spaces for addressing the intersections of racism and sexism, in our membership meet-ups, community of practice webinars, policy advocacy committee. 

    As members of the Global MenEngage Alliance, we are joining with regions around the world all engaging in this process of dismantling patriarchy and white supremacy. We challenge others to recognize that this is, ‘a must do’ if we are to find a way through the crises that face us.  We are heartened to witness the rising tide in a global societal transformation.

    Oba yansafo yenkanasem yebunbe “a word to the wise is enough.”

  • 12 May 2019 2:57 PM | Craig Norberg-Bohm (Administrator)

    The University of Northern Iowa’s Center for Violence Prevention  hosted NAMEN Steering Committee members, Rus Funk and Chuck Derry, at the Midwest Symposium on Men’s Leadership and Accountability Around #MeToo in Des Moines, Iowa, January 28-29, 2019.

    Alan Heisterkamp, Ed.D., NAMEN steering committee member and director of the Center for Violence Prevention at the University of Northern Iowa, in partnership with the Iowa Department of Public Health, convened the Midwest Symposium. Nearly 100 participants and speakers from nine states and two countries (Scotland and Sweden) attended. NAMEN steering committee members, Rus Funk and Chuck Derry, were featured speakers and presenters.

    Center for Violence Prevention Website

    Symposium Website

    Brief video Introduction of the Symposium

    The symposium provided a venue for men and allies to gain new information, skills and perspectives around leadership and accountability in the era of the #MeToo movement. Utilizing the spectrum of prevention as a framework, presenters and facilitators helped attendees build their capacity to (a) increase awareness and knowledge; (b) mobilize support and action among their respective professional/social peers; and (c) develop supportive alliances/partnerships with local rape and prevention educators and victim service providers.

    Throughout the symposium, time and space were provided for participants to listen and reflect on important questions that the #MeToo movement asks each of us to contemplate. Questions such as: In what ways are men utilizing their leadership to confront and challenge sexism and other forms of oppression when they see it or hear it? How can men be encouraged and challenged to take responsibility for disrupting rape culture and sexism within their social and work spaces? What does it mean, as men, to hold ourselves and others accountable in this era of #MeToo? Moving forward, what strategies and approaches are necessary to break the links between masculinity, sexism and violence? As a result of the presentations, round table discussions and informal conversations that took place over the course of two days, many attendees left with a renewed sense of hope and optimism for a more fair and just society.

    Rus Funk presented a “short talk” for the opening of the conference, and then facilitated a workshop on the What’s Wrong with this Picture” program -- examining the impact of men’s viewing pornography. More information about this program is available at http://rusfunk.me/WWWTP

    Rus Funk Short Talk Video

    For his short talk Rus (who went off script from what had been planned) focused his comments on “sometimes when we walk the talk -- we trip.”  Using the analogy of “tripping” to mean the ways that we find ourselves falling short of our intentions, aspirations, or principles. His 3 key points:

    • compassion and courage as the foundation for this work,

    • practice make progress, and

    • Using experiences of humiliation as a pathway for humility rather than a door for shame and privilege

    Chuck Derry also presented a “short talk”; as a part of the opening for the conference,and facilitated a workshop titled  Bret Kavanaugh - You - and #MeToo which explored the male cultural norms which support 1 in 3 women being victims of sexual and/or domestic violence. This workshop asked men to examine how they participate in these social norms and provided model initiatives and opportunities for men to work, in partnership with women, to reshape this society to end men’s violence against women (and children). Supporting gender equity and respect.

    Chuck Derry Short Talk Video

    Chuck’s short talk, “Toxic Masculinity” - The Benefits of Sexism - “The Man Box”,   explored male engagement strategies and the unintended consequences resulting from focusing on men’s self interest, which is the foundation of sexist oppression. This short presentation addressed the benefits associated with male privilege and engagement strategies which acknowledge that men’s compassion for change will collide with their privilege.

    The question then becomes, will that compassion over ride the privilege?  Will we give up the benefits of sexism to support gender justice?  Do we care about women’s lives?

    The video of Chuck’s short talk, embedded in a blog post titled “Toxic Masculinity: Toxic for Who?”  can be found at https://www.genderviolenceinstitute.org/news

    To watch a short video capturing the highlights of all speakers and an overview of the entire symposium event, please click on https://youtu.be/FRFwK3b-4uY

  • 05 Oct 2018 8:47 AM | Craig Norberg-Bohm (Administrator)

    Dear Senator,

    The North American MenEngage Network (NAMEN) is the US/Canada regional network of organizations and individuals working with men and boys to achieve gender equality, end violence, and promote health for men, women and children in North America. NAMEN is a regional member of the Global MenEngage Alliance, a network of NGOs and UN agencies that seeks to engage boys and men to achieve gender equality. At the international level, members include more than 400 NGOs from Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, North America, Asia and Europe.

    To support efforts of “liberty and justice for all”, NAMEN is requesting, in solidarity with the millions of women and girls and boys sexually assaulted in this country, that you vote “no” on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the US Supreme Court.   Our membership has extensive experience working with victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, men who have perpetrated sexual assault and domestic violence, and the prevention of all forms of gender-based violence. Based on our collective expertise, there is substantial reason to believe Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, and substantial reason to doubt Mr. Kavanaugh.

    Judge Kavanaugh’s presentation to the Judicial Committee is identical to behaviors and strategies of offenders who routinely deny their behaviors while presenting themselves as victims of those they have abused. This was very evident in Judge Kavanaugh’s opening statement, his demeanor, and his frequent lack of response to specific questions from the committee.  Furthermore, his behavior during this hearing raises serious doubts as to his ability to serve in an impartial and reasoned manner on the highest court of the land. His behavior demonstrates a willingness to bully, dismiss, and intimidate those who disagree with him; an appalling premise of entitlement that grounds his beliefs and actions; and a total disregard for passionate, thorough, reasoned debate.

    Dr. Ford responded respectfully to all questions fully and directly.  Her courage (there have been death threats… she had to move her family) and commitment to the integrity of the democratic structure of governance in the United States, was profound. An inspiration for all U.S. citizens that this is a “government of the people, by the people, and for the people”.

    As citizens, we bear a responsibility to ensure that all people are provided equal opportunity and are treated with respect and dignity. And that our governance structure assures those democratic principles will be adhered to. That commitment was expressed and witnessed by Dr Ford’s testimony.

    As representatives of the people, and stakeholders of the future integrity of this country, you hold in your hands the immense opportunity to shift the social/cultural norms which have resulted in 1 in 3 women being sexually assaulted in their lifetime. You have the opportunity to take a stand, in this process of confirmation to the Supreme Court, on behalf of these women. It is rare that a survivor comes forward to lie about a sexual assault. It is common that offenders will deny their behavior.

    The hearing was not a trial, but a confirmation.  As such, the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard is not appropriate or relevant.   In light of this, we request that you consider the information provided, and the testimony offered, and make your determinations based on the “likelihood” that Dr. Ford is telling the truth, and Judge Kavanaugh is not.

    It is also significant that two other women, Julie Swetnick and Debra Ramirez, have come forward identifying Brett Kavanaugh as the perpetrator of other sexually abusive behaviors, toward them, as he grew older. Again, this is very common behavior for teenage boys who have been abusive, to continue this sexual abuse into adulthood. Simply considering it, part of the “fun”.

    This has to change. This is too common. One in three women are abused by men in their lifetime. The senate needs to provide a message to boys and men in America that this behavior will no longer be tolerated. The primary question becomes… do we care about women’s lives? This is a moment in history where that answer can be a profound YES!

    We ask again that you vote NO on the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh as a Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.


    Craig Norberg-Bohm, Co-Chairperson
    Magaly Marques, Co-Chairperson


  • 05 Jul 2018 8:16 PM | Craig Norberg-Bohm (Administrator)

    The Trump Administration’s Decision to Withdraw from the Human Rights Council Lands the United States on the Wrong Side of History and Justice

    A Joint Statement Between the North American MenEngage Network (NAMEN) and Promundo-US

    The United States was once a leader on supporting global efforts to end violence against women and promote women’s human rights. But under President Trump, the US government is now far from that; the decision to withdraw the country from the Human Rights Council is just one example.

    The United States, under previous administrations, has been a global supporter of advancing human rights, including efforts to respond to and eliminate violence against women domestically and internationally. However, on June 20, 2018, the Trump administration withdrew the United States (US) from the Human Rights Council (HRC), an intergovernmental body within the United Nations (UN) that holds the responsibility to promote and protect human rights globally and to address human rights violations, including violence against women.

    The Trump administration’s decision puts the US on a list of countries that do not take human rights seriously and do not take women's, children’s, or immigrants’ rights seriously. The North American MenEngage Network (NAMEN) and Promundo-US express grave concerns and deep disagreement with this decision, which we believe lands the US firmly on the wrong side of history and justice. By withdrawing itself from any involvement or engagement in collaborative diplomacy, the US is removing itself from a position of both being held accountable and holding other states accountable for the advancement of human rights and the global effort to prevent all forms of gender-based violence.

    Representatives of NAMEN and Promundo-US attended the Human Rights Council session in June along with a number of MenEngage Alliance members – from more than 15 countries, across 5 continents – at which the US withdrew from the HRC. We were there because last year, the Human Rights Council did something historic: it affirmed that men and boys must be engaged as key actors to prevent violence against women. It affirmed that this work must be done in ways that challenge harmful ideas about what it means to be a man and must be applied within a human rights and feminist framework.  

    This HRC Resolution (HRC 35-10) says we need to get serious about shifting the cultures of manhood – in policy and practice – that too often drive men's violence against women. It asserts that member states have a responsibility to support and promote men’s engagement in these efforts to prevent and eliminate all forms of gender-based violence.  

    Tellingly, the US was not one of the 85 member states to co-sponsor that resolution. The US refused to confirm that men are the majority of those who carry out violence against women, and therefore we must engage men to end it. Now, by withdrawing, the US is going even further by pulling ourselves out of this UN body and refusing to participate in advancing the international community’s human rights agenda more broadly. The Trump administration’s decision to withdraw came one day after the opening statement and global update of human rights concerns by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, a statement which soundly (and in our view, rightly) criticized the US for the Trump administration’s practice of separating children from their families – including those seeking asylum (while also recently removing domestic violence as cause to seek it) – at the US’s southern border as a response to so-called and unsubstantiated immigration “crisis” into the US.

    We call on the Trump administration to reverse its decision, returning to the Human Rights Council and to the global conversation about expanding human rights. We call on the government and leadership of the United States to re-commit to prioritizing the advancement of women’s rights and gender equality in its domestic and foreign policy.

    As the United States, we must show what we wish to stand for; we must show that we believe we can become a place where women, children, immigrants, and all people feel safe – a place where their human rights are protected.


    The North American MenEngage Network (NAMEN), a member of the Global MenEngage Alliance, is a regional network of organizational and individuals in the US and Canada working to engage and mobilize men and boys in support of expanding women’s human rights.  NAMEN focuses on three key areas: ending gender based violence, promoting men’s roles in responsible and engaged caregiving, and promoting reproductive health and justice. NAMEN is the network in the US and Canada that provides technical support and resources to the multiple local, state, provincial, and national organizations in both countries working to engage men and boys; and provides a bi-national voice for these efforts.



    Founded in Brazil in 1997, Promundo works to promote gender equality and create a world free from violence by engaging men and boys in partnership with women and girls. Promundo is a global consortium with members in the United States, Brazil, Portugal, and Democratic Republic of the Congo that collaborate to achieve this mission by conducting cutting-edge research that builds the knowledge base on masculinities and gender equality; developing, evaluating, and scaling up high-impact gender-transformative interventions and programs; and carrying out national and international campaigns and advocacy initiatives to prevent violence and promote gender justice.


  • 24 May 2018 11:25 PM | Craig Norberg-Bohm (Administrator)

    Raising Boys to Love and Care, Not Kill By Rob Okun

    Heart contracts; tears collide. Ten dead, 13 wounded; this time in Santa Fe, Texas.

    If we're ever to end these tragic bloodbaths in the United States, we have to put gender at the center of the national conversation about mass murders.

    News flash: The location of the killings is only one way to describe the murders; highlighting the shooters’ gender is essential to gain insights to prevent future tragedies. While not all mass murders occur at schools—think churches and movie theaters—virtually every murderer is male, almost always white. Dimitrios Pagourtzis, 17, who opened fire at Santa Fe High School on Galveston County's Gulf Coast, is no exception. We ignore that truth at our peril.

    In gun-friendly Texas, memories are still fresh from last November’s mass murders at a church in Sutherland Springs (27 dead, including the perpetrator, 26-year-old white male Devin Patrick Kelley). The Santa Fe tragedy was the 22nd school shooting of 2018 —that's more than one a week. Yet the national conversation focuses on gun access, mental health,  school building security—anything but the gender of the perpetrator. Perplexing, since gender is central in another arena where men are perpetrating violence: sexual assault. 

    In the past 12 months, there's been a powerful shift in our cultural narrative, with the #MeToo movement inspiring more women to speak out—and be believed. So why are we reluctant to call a mass shooter a male mass shooter? If women were doing the killing, you can bet gender would lead every broadcast and news story.

    In talking about men, phrases like “toxic masculinity” (or “healthy masculinity” for that matter) do men a disservice. They obscure deeper issues about manhood, especially the most important one: how we raise boys.

    Let's be truthful: the majority of boys and men do not commit mass murder; do not enter public spaces brandishing automatic weapons; do not mow down pedestrians with cars careening down city sidewalks. Those men are the hawks in the coal mine; we need to pay attention to the canaries.

    Any middle or high school student can identify the canaries—isolated, alienated boys with low self-esteem, products of a culture indifferent to boys’ social anxieties, disillusionment, and loneliness. Addressing their struggles as teenagers is too late; we must begin helping boys in preschool, learning from discerning early childhood educators and insightful psychotherapists about how we, as adults and role models, can raise happy, healthy men.

    In considering both mass shootings and #MeToo, we’re told men have been largely silent. That's only partially true. How many readers are aware of the four-decade old anti-sexist men's movement that has been challenging men's violence against women (and other men), since the 1970s? How many know about the initiatives and organizations  that have dotted the landscape since then?

    Decades ago, when Gloria Steinem famously said, “Women want a men's movement. We are literally dying for it,” some men were listening. In the aftermath of a tragedy like Santa Fe, there is a treasure-trove of resources addressing contemporary masculinity.  Men are helping; men want to help. Demonizing all men is a losing proposition.

    Of course, there is never any justification for the twisted belief that men are “entitled” to a girlfriend or to sex. Troubled, lonely males are made, not born. A culture that refuses to consider the health of our boy children, and fails to acknowledge the gender inequality girls and women have experienced for, well, forever, will continue to produce wounded men, a tiny number of whom will become violent. Without early counseling and support, though, many will turn to extremist online misogynist groups for validation.     

    Boys can grow to be beautiful men if society is willing to re-evaluate how they are socialized. If Congress won't fund the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct a comprehensive public health study of male socialization, then every state legislature should take up the cause. To honor the memories of the murdered in Santa Fe, Texas, Parkland, Florida, and all those who came before, we have to act. Now.


    Rob Okun is editor of Voice Male magazine and a member of the steering committee of North America MenEngage. A new edition of his book, Voice Male: The Untold Story of the Profeminist Men’s Movement, was published earlier this year. He can be reached at rob@voicemalemagazine.org


    This article first appeared in The Dallas Morning Union and The Telegraph in London. It is syndicated by Peace Voice.

  • 17 Nov 2017 12:44 PM | Craig Norberg-Bohm (Administrator)

    Men Responding to the Harassment and Assault
    By Rus Ervin Funk

    The #MeToo campaign, along with the recent rash of allegations about sexual harassment and assault by both women and men, have created another opportunity for men, individually and collectively, to respond to sexual harassment and assault.  What we’ve seen is less than encouraging and suggests we need to do more as a movement.  It speaks to the need for us to better empower--and model for men--how they can respond to sexual harassment and assault in ways that are both proactive and more effective than  just expressing our support or outrage for victimized women or men.

    Michael Flood, in Men Speak Up:  A Toolkit for Action in Men’s Daily Lives (White Ribbon Campaign, 2011), outlines a host of actions men can (and should) take in response to gender based violence. He categorizes them into three areas:

    1. Behaving nonviolently ourselves

    2. Taking action with other men and women

    3. Joining in collective action

    He doesn’t suggest these steps are linear (i.e. behaving nonviolently is not meant to be a first step of men’s action that leads to taking action amongst other men and women). Rather his categorization is offered as a way to think about and offer men opportunities to act.

    In 2017, Rus Funk and Lundy Bancroft, in their chapter “Addressing and Combating Intimate Partner Sexual Violence” (in Perpetrators of Intimate Partner Sexual Violence:  A Multidisciplinary Approach to Prevention, Recognition and Intervention, (Routledge, Press, 2017) identified five criteria men need in order to perpetrate sexual violence:

    1. A lack of empathy for women’s feelings and experiences.  Men who perpetrate sexual assault and harassment are well aware (based on the acknowledgements of men who have confessed to perpetrating) that what they are doing is causing distress and her lack of consent is obvious.   

    2. A belief system to justify his behaviors and actions.  Men who perpetrate must develop some kind of beliefs around how what he did was acceptable, which includes not being responsible for his own actions, that women are beneath him and that exploiting others sexually is acceptable.  But he must also come to believe that lying to her, about her and about his actions are also excusable.

    3. A vision of sexual assault or harassment.  In order to engage in the behaviors, men who perpetrate must first have a vision of those behaviors.  We know from ample evidence that the vast majority of sexual harassment and assaults are planned.  So we know that he must develop a specific vision for assaulting or harassing.  

    A part of this visioning includes justifying or re-defining the assault or harassment as not assaultive or harassing.  

    1. A degree of perceived social approval for his actions. Men, like women, are deeply and inherently social creatures.  Our behaviors, and the beliefs and attitudes that lie beneath those behaviors, exist in the context of our social relationships.   Men who perpetrate believe that their actions are at least socially acceptable, if not socially encouraged.

    2. Trust that his actions will not be found it, and if they are, will not result in robust accountability.  

    Examining these factors and identifying how these attitudes or beliefs are supported by broader social systems provides additional strategies for men to be involved and take action.  All of us, as men, have a role to play in the social systems of which we are a part (friendship networks, workplaces, our places of worship, etc.).  We can either contribute to, or counter, the social norms of those places -- including the social norms that are outlined above. 

    Men’s lack of empathy for women and women’s experiences does not just exist within individual men.  Individual men’s lack of empathy is reinforced (in some cases required) by the social environments we’re a part of.  As such, we all have roles to play in creating social environments that enforce social norms that undermine these five preconditions.   

    Taken together, these two documents offer an outline for ways that men can act (individually and collectively) more effectively to counter and combat sexual harassment and assault.

    So when Michael Flood calls on us to “start with yourself,” we can explore our own responses when women or men allege sexual harassment or assault -- particularly when those allegations are directed at men we respect or honor, or men we know or love. We can train ourselves to hold onto our empathy towards her even while we struggle with the implications of those allegations.  Men’s current default response to sexual harassment and assault seems to be stuck in disbelief, denial and  victim blaming.  We can help to create a social norm that re-sets men’s default in response to one of empathizing with and believing women.  

    When Michael suggests that we take action with other men and women, we can work within our social networks (friendships, relatives, co-workers, classmates, etc.) to clarify our intention to be more outwardly empathetic to all women and lay a new standard that we expect our friends, family, colleagues, etc to also express more empathy towards more women more often.

    And when Michael suggest that we as men can take more collective action, that suggests we as men can organize public demonstrations of our support for women.  As an example, as a part of the annual Take Back the Night march and rally in Louisville, Kentucky,  for several years a group of men organized a “feeder march.”  That is, a separate march of and for men that joined with women at the rally site prior to the candle-light vigil.  In this way, men of the Louisville community were publicly demonstrating (both meanings of the word) our collective support for women.

    I am, of course, am only using building empathy as an example.  We as men, individually and collectively, can and must work on all five of these criteria, in all three of the arenas described above.

    As critical as it is for women to find the courage and be supported in speaking up about their experiences of being harassed and assaulted, we also need to generate the courage amongst men to actively challenge men’s harassing attitudes and behaviors.  This is what men can do -- and need to do.  

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