This is another action that takes courage, but not the kind of courage that often leads to violence. As a man, you have influence and privilege (whether you want it or know it or not). That means that other men (and women) listen to you. Use this privilege to set an example and talk to other men about the fact that violence against women is wrong. At the beginning, this is not easy because from very early on, boys and men receive the message that there are consequences for leaving the “club” of traditional masculinity. But times are changing and an increasing number of men are speaking out when they hear other men make sexist jokes, harass women on the streets, or try to justify or deny the fact that violence against women is an epidemic problem.
Here are some things you can do:
- If you are volunteering your time or money for a women’s or girl’s organization, tell your male friends and colleagues why this is important for you and invite them to join you in supporting the agency.
- If one of your friends or colleagues makes a sexist joke or harasses a woman in front of you, calmly and firmly interrupt them and explain that creating a hostile environment for and devaluing women, even “just joking,” are reasons why other men feel entitled to mistreat women and girls in more serious ways. You can say things like “I don’t think that’s funny,” or “Those kind of comments make me uncomfortable” or “if some men disrespect women, other men feel permission to abuse them.”
- When other men devalue women in any way, remind them that they are also talking about their mothers, sisters, daughters and so on.
- Learn to watch movies and TV with a critical eye. We are surrounded by messages that devalue women, minimize the violence that they experience, and limit the ways that men can express themselves and still be considered “manly”. When watching a movie or TV with friends, point out casually if there are sexist depictions of women and girls that bother you and explain why. This can also be an opportunity to discuss illustrations of traditional masculinity and the glorification of violence.
Organize a study group with other like-minded men to discuss how violence affects you all and your loved ones. Check out the Tools & Materials section for ideas of ways to engage men in your area.
Check out the Te Invito Campaign included in this toolkit is a good example of men and boys in the community, coming together to involve other men and boys in the efforts to end violence against women. You can use the PSA as a point of departure for a community meeting or group of men, by asking them to answer the questions posed by the campaign.