Monday, August 15, 2011

What Men Can Do Challenge Gender Violence

Brett Stockdill, Northeastern Illinois University 

Women have always challenged gender violence. Globally, too few men have chosen toact as allies to women in this vital struggle. As men, there are many ways that we can confront
violence against women, including:

  • Challenge sexism and promote gender equality.
  • Recognize that rape, domestic violence and sexual harassment are not acceptable, but are violations of basic human rights. Challenge the myth that men have the right to control women sexually, economically, physically or in any way.
  • Support survivors of rape and domestic violence. Actively listen to them. Familiarize yourself with resources and services available to violence survivors (see:;;;;;;
  • Confront sexism wherever you are—at work, in the home, on the playing field or at school—and discuss it with other men. Challenge sexist stereotypes that depict women as weak, unintelligent, incompetent, overly emotional, etc. Speak out against sexist language (calling women “bitch,” “whore”, etc.) and jokes as well as sexual harassment. Challenge the misogynistic practice of feminizing men to disparage them (e.g., calling men “pussy,” “sissy,” etc.). Treat women as equals. Listen to and value women’s ideas and perspectives. Support women’s choices to pursue education and work. 
  • Cultivate equality in all your relationships. Take responsibility for housework and cooking and, if you are a parent, childcare. If you are in an intimate relationship, make important decisions together with your partner. Discuss sex and sexuality openly and honestly with all your sexual partners, women and men. Respect your partners’ decisions: No means no. Teach young people to challenge sexism and gender inequality. 
  • Teach boys, girls and teenagers that rape and domestic violence are unacceptable and that men have a responsibility to speak out against gender violence. Teach boys to respect girls and women and treat them as equals in all areas of life. 
  • Encourage boys and girls to express their emotions and nurture both strength and sensitivity in both boys and girls. Encourage boys and girls to play games and sports together not apart or against each other. Critique the endemic sexism and related glorification of violence in music, films, video games, and television shows. Encourage cooperative, nonviolent games, toys and sports. 
  • Ensure that household chores are shared equally between boys and girls. Promote the academic achievement of girls. Support boys’ interests in teaching, childcare, reading, music and the arts.
  • Teach children that homophobia and transphobia are wrong. Challenge the use of homophobic epithets (e.g., “fag”) as a way to put other boys/men down. Support children and adults who don’t conform to traditional gender roles. Provide safety and support for LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) people of all ages. Organize collectively against sexism and in support of gender justice. 
  • Integrate gender into all political struggles. Violence against women is rooted in systems of oppression—sexism, racism, homophobia/transphobia, classism and imperialism— that generate violence against marginalized groups. Embracing gender equality and justice strengthens antiracist, labor union, environmental, and other forms of activism. Challenging economic inequality, racism, and militarism/war is intertwined with combating violence against women.
  • Support organizations such as Nuevos Horizontes and IMPACT! Chicago that challenge gender violence and promote gender justice, including reproductive rights. Participate in events promoting the human rights of women such as International Women’s Day (March 8th) and Take Back the Night marches. 
  • Organize men in your community to discuss ways to combat gender violence and advocate for gender equality (see:;;

At the core of taking responsibility for combating gender violence is respecting the lives
of our daughters, sisters, mothers, friends and co-workers. 

When we listen to women, when we reject machismo and patriarchy, we develop our own consciousness and potential more fully. When we, as men, confront violence against women we make a commitment to social justice for girls, women, and ourselves.

For a version in Spanish, please contact

See Brett’s August 8 blog “Men’s Responsibility to Challenge Gender Violence”

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