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Midwest Symposium on Men’s Leadership and Accountability

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


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