By David Lee on August 13, 2010 · tagged as , ,

How do men get involved in ending violence against women work?

As a man working in sexual violence and domestic violence movement, frequently I am asked “why do you do this work?” Why do people ask this question?  Is it because they ask everyone (female and male) why do this work? Or are they surprised that a man is engaged in this work?

Another reason is that they want to figure out how to bring more men to violence against women prevention work.  In the article “How Can I Not?”: Men’s Pathways to Involvement in Anti-Violence Against Women Work recently published in the journal Violence Against Women, authors Casey and Smith explore why men get involved in anti-violence against women work.

This qualitative study used interviews with 27 men. While there are some significant limitations of this sample (for example all the men were white), the authors ask an interesting question.  The authors describe their findings as:

First, all men but one had some sort of “sensitizing” or priming experience that raised their level of consciousness regarding issues of violence or gender inequity and seemed to lay the groundwork for being open to involvement when an opportunity arose. Second, all men had at least one tangible opportunity or entrée into an antiviolence group, volunteer opportunity, or job. Third, the meaning that participants had come to attach to the initial sensitizing and/or to the opportunity experience seemed to be a critical component of men’s decision to devote time to antiviolence work.

From your experience, how do men get involved in this work? Myself, I like to point to how my  mother modeled getting involved as she volunteered in a battered women shelter in the 1970s. Her example demonstrated that everyone (including her sons) should do something to end violence against women .

PS. A small correction: the authors describe recruiting through the “Prevention Institute Sexual Violence Listserve” but I think they meant the Prevention Connection Listserv (since Prevention Institute does not have a sexual violence listerv and requests to participate in this study were posted in 2008.)  A lost chance to have Prevention Connection named in a peer reviewed journal.

Below is the full citation and abstract to the article.

“How Can I Not?”: Men’s Pathways to Involvement in Anti-Violence Against Women Work.

Casey E, Smith T. Violence Against Women 2010; 16(8): 953-73.

Click here to see the article on the journal’s web site.

(Copyright © 2010, Sage Publications)

Despite growing male participation in ending violence against women, little is known about the factors that precipitate men’s engagement as antiviolence “allies.” This study presents findings from a qualitative analysis of interviews with 27 men who recently initiated involvement in an organization or event dedicated to ending sexual or domestic violence. Findings suggest that men’s engagement is a process that occurs over time, that happens largely through existing social networks, and that is influenced by exposure to sensitizing experiences, tangible involvement opportunities and specific types of meaning making related to violence. Implications for models of ally development and for efforts to engage men in antiviolence work are discussed.

David Lee

More Posts by David Lee

David S. Lee, MPH, is the Director of Prevention Services at the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault where he provides training and technical assistance on prevention. David manages the national project PreventConnect, an online community of violence against women prevention practitioners, funders, researchers and activists. For over 27 years David has worked in efforts to end domestic violence and sexual assault.

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Dianna Jones August 16, 2010 at 10:02 am

I think this type of research and findings are instrumental in eliminating violence against women. There are other risk factors and issues that can also be impacted by creating opportunities for equality in gender roles. Many of the programs that are currently being implemented are geared toward various audiences, but there are few that address the gender roles. I think that men are searching for these opportunities and the success of social change is intertwined with everyone playing an integral role!

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