In 2012 I was struck, hit upside the head, and right in the chest with the news of a friend who had been murdered. I had worked along side her to help create an event called Ecoplosion. She worked for Clemson University in the Master of Real Estate Development Program and was a crucial part of putting together a big economic development event in Greenville, SC. Her name is Marge Putnam.
I was struck in the head and in the chest. It knocked the breath out of me to learn that this beautiful woman, mother, grandmother, community leader was killed by her husband who then killed himself.
I was struck in the head to learn the statistics. South Carolina ranks as the #1 state in the nation for women killed by men; 1 in 5 female college students are sexually assaulted; 1 in 4 women are the victims of domestic violence; and over 50% of middle and high-school girls experience sexual harassment in school.
WHY? WHY IS THIS HAPPENING?
Historically, the movement to end violence against women has been led by women. Why are men not a part of the solution? We are a part of the problem yet not willing to step-up and become an active voice, and active part of this advocacy to tackle the problem of domestic violence.
It starts with men teaching men. We see a beautiful woman walking sidewalk, and we give them the “up and down” look. We hear a sexist remark in the locker room or a joke that is degrading towards women at the water cooler, and we laugh rather than challenging it. We notice a buddy acting controlling towards his wife or girlfriend, and we say nothing. We teach our sons to “man- up” and “be a man” rather than showing their true emotions. We grow up with this “man code”ingrained in our ethic, and our sons learn this from their fathers.
Why are we doing this? We are real men with real hearts and we can create a movement to stop this cycle. We are business men, faith leaders, coaches, teachers, real men with the wherewithal to stand up and say no more!
Today, advocates are now working to engage men as allies in the effort to promote a healthy view of masculinity and to work towards ending all forms of violence and discrimination against women and girls.
On Thursday, April 24, we called all men of Anderson to join us for “A Call To Men: Equipping Men to End Violence Against Women and Girls.” Close to 60 people attending the morning breakfast at ANMED Women’s & Children’s Hospital. Tony Porter, co-founder of the New York based organization “A Call To Men” emphasized, “We are not OK with the violence. We are not supportive of the violence,” he said. “But we have to begin to ask ourselves: How is this happening in our presence?”
From Anderson Independent Mail article:
“Porter said violence against women can be linked to the collective socialization of men, which he termed the “Man Box.”
Men are raised to avoid any appearance of weakness or fear, and to objectify women, he said. “We are taught as men to have a lack of interest in the experience of women with the exception of sexual conquest,” Porter said. These lessons manifest themselves in subtle ways from generation to generation.
For instance, Porter said, men leaving on business trips often tell their young sons that they “are in charge.” These men fail to consider what message this sends to their wives or daughters. Porter also said the “Man Box” encourages men to stifle all emotions save for anger.
“This box is not only killing us but it is supporting an environment of men’s violence against women,” he said. “Our job as men is to really begin to rethink how we define what it means to be a man,” Porter said.
This one statement not only resonated with the business community during the luncheon, but also with about 200 males upper class-men from TL Hanna High School.
As you see in these seats…there were men talking to men and Tony was driving the discussion. From role playing to speaking honestly about the male role in a relationship…Tony found a way to use experience speaking to NFL teams with these 200 young men.
But what capped off the afternoon…Tony asking the men leaders in the auditorium to stand up and share why they love their wives so much. One after another, from the head football coach to me…we all shared something very personal, but also very real. After each one of us spoke, those same 200 young men in the bleachers gave a unanimous round of applause.
What a way to end the day. Once again…Tony Porter reminded these young men, “Our job as men is to really begin to rethink how we define what it means to be a man.”
To see all the pictures from the event, CLICK HERE.
A Call To Men was made possible by the following groups and people:
– Becky Callaham & Julie Meredith of Safe Harbor SC
– Tracy Bowie & Cristel Stancil of Foothills Alliance
– Ellen Sechrest of Boulevard Baptist Church
– Lou Leffler of The Episcopal Church of the Ascension
– Doug Davison Mental Health America of Anderson County
– Michael Cunningham of AnMed Health
– Foothills Foundation
– Gray Digital Group
– Tom Haren and Bobby Rettew (brother-in-law organizers)