By Alyssa Bravo
Posted on December 17, 2021
How men can help to prevent violence against women
TW: This article contains mentions of sexual violence.
It’s common for violence against women to be considered a “women’s issue” and something that men do not typically concern themselves with. However, seeing as they play a large role in the dictation of society, men and boys can help end gender-based violence by being allies.
Gender-based violence is an issue that can affect anyone, regardless of their gender. However, it’s no secret that women are targeted the most, especially when they are being victimized by men. According to a 2002 study, men are more likely to inflict violent acts against women, while women are more likely to resort to violence as self-defence. Additionally, Statistics Canada revealed that 94 per cent of sexual assaults are perpetrated by men.
As violence of any nature should not be condoned, it’s important to take as many preventative steps as necessary. Here are some ways men and boys can help stop gender-based violence against women:
Listen to survivors, research and learn
Only survivors would know how much their abuse has affected them. Whether it be sharing their stories in person, through social media, or even through published works, listening to them is a crucial step in preventing gender-based violence.
The key to understanding the true impacts of sexual violence is to seek out the perspectives of survivors. As stated in an article by the University of Toronto, “Who knows better about harassment and violence against women than the women who experience it?”
Reject harmful stereotypes
Men have been stereotyped to be assertive, hyper-masculine and dominant against their subordinate, hyper-feminine and submissive female counterparts. Anything deviant to this tradition is seen as socially unacceptable.
These gender roles can perpetuate harmful expectations from both men and women. Men are expected to exercise control over women and have the right to punish them for any deviant behaviour. Additionally, women are expected to always accept sex from their male partners, sustaining the concern over spousal sexual abuse.
Breaking free of these stereotypes and encouraging others to do so can help to raise awareness of gender-based violence and how social expectations play a large role in it.
Engage children and teach them accordingly
Violence against women is a learned behaviour. According to this report by the World Health Organization, children who are exposed to violence within their families are prone to suffering behavioural and emotional disturbances, and are likely to perpetrate or experience violence as they get older.
From an early age, boys can receive harmful stereotypical messages about what it means to “be a man,” whether it be by their fathers, other family members, teachers and even the media.
Educating the younger generation can help to prevent future incidents of gender-based violence. As a parent, guardian, or someone who works closely with children, it’s crucial to lead by example.
Speak out and support
Sexist language is interwoven in several societies’ vernacular. Continuing this practice enforces the idea of women being less worthy than men and places them at the butt of every joke. Instead of being silent, it’s important for men to utilize their privilege and speak out against these acts.
Men should call out their friends if they make a sexist joke and correct someone if they are victim-blaming a rape survivor to support victims of sexual violence.
While gender-based violence disproportionately affects women, it is not their issue to bear alone. Men and boys are crucial allies to have in preventing violence against women. By doing their part, gender-based violence can be reduced.