Six pin back buttons with the phrases "I'm trying to not be defensive," "Challenge oppressive language," End rape culture," Masculinity without misogyny," "your boundaries deserve respect," and "Be accountable"

What is the role of men in ending gender-based violence?

Ending violence in our communities is going to take all of us and it is critical that men and people of all genders are active participants and promoters of changes to the current status quo. It is also critical to combat not only the individual instances of violence, but also the systemic forms of violence, as violence does not occur in a vacuum but rather in a society that condones and encourages it.

Men of course also experience many forms of violence, from sexual assault to racism to homophobia, transphobia, classism, ableism and poverty.

Forms of violence intersect, compound and are layered – it is impossible to isolate gender-based violence away from racism, colonization, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, ageism and classism. In order to create a meaningful movement to end sexualized violence, we must oppose all forms of violence.

Here are some of our thoughts (influenced by work by many others, including Jackson Katz and the White Ribbon Campaign) on how men can take part in ending gender-based violence:

Take responsibility for how much power you have, how much space you take up and your actions and behaviours. Question your complicity within systems of violence. Do you contribute to or oppose violence with your actions, words or silence?

Educate yourself and listen to people in your life who have different experiences of violence, read anti-violence blogs, books and other resources, attend workshops or events that relate to anti-violence work.

Check out inspiring examples of anti-violence work! Two recent examples include:

“The Gathering of Aboriginal Men – Standing up against Violence towards Aboriginal Women and Children”, took place on Wednesday, February 15, 2012, on Lekwungen and Esquimalt homelands. This call to action requested that “brothers, uncles, grandfathers, fathers, and sons to come together and build a Province-wide campaign to end violence against Aboriginal women and children.”

“Shit Men Say to Men Who Say Shit to Women on the Street” is a Youtube video inspired by International Anti-Street Harassment Week, created by a “group of women and men in NYC who believe that street harassment is wrong, and that we all have a role to play in ending it – especially us guys.” Check it out here

Learn about sexualized violence and all forms of violence – and make the connections. There are connections and intersections between different forms of violence. Making these connections and addressing violence in all its forms is critical, in order to truly change the status quo.

Talk to and learn with other men. Start a discussion group, engage with young men in your life or in your community and in whatever you do. Find a way to ensure that your own learning continues while also sharing the knowledge you have or gain.

Take action against violence when you see it and when you are able to oppose it. Speak up when you hear violent or oppressive language or comments. Learn about myths and bust them when someone is speaking them or when something is promoting them.

Contribute to shifting and changing the culture of violence that exists. Confront violent attitudes when possible and hold everyone to a higher standard of behaviour and action. Significant change is possible when we take collective responsibility for shifting the violent norms that exist.

Volunteer with the Anti.Violence.Project – we welcome volunteers of all genders and would love to meet interested volunteers committed to ending gender-based violence and all forms of violence. Interested? Contact us

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