Men Stopping Violence Allies
What is a Men Stopping Violence Ally?
MSV Allies are men who add their voice to the vision of safer communities for women and girls. Allies influence the community, through business contacts, social networks, faith communities, academic institutions, and civic organizations.
Allies attend the True Ally Breakfast, hosted by co-chairs George McKerrow and Harold Dawson, Jr. The breakfast is held bi-monthly (odd numbered months) on the second Wednesday of the month. Originally scheduled twice a year, the frequency was increased at the request of men attending the breakfast, who also formed a steering committee to guide the growth of this important initiative.
At the breakfast, committee members are provided with an opportunity to network and an education that will help them spread the message of safety and respect for women and girls. One Ally describes the breakfast as, “a place where we can, with no judgment, get together with other men and discuss how to have relationships that empower women.”
Another Ally, Bill Bertram, said this about the Breakfast, “When George invited me to the breakfast, I had my reservations as to what exactly “Men Stopping Violence” was about. As an attorney, I think of violence as battering, physical violence against women. What did that have to do with me? I thought I was aware but didn’t realize the different levels and types of violence that can occur outside the realm of physical violence. It ranges from verbal to physical abuse. Men Stopping Violence creates awareness for me as a father to help my daughters recognize behaviors that are not acceptable. Now I have twin sons, seven months old, and am also learning things to pass on to them. Men Stopping Violence has been an eye-opening program for me to develop myself as a more understanding spouse and father.”
For more information about becoming a Men Stopping Violence Ally contact Ulester Douglas.
Past Featured Allies
“Men Stopping Violence is a unique organization fearlessly tackling a subject that’s long been taboo. Violence against women should be a thing of the past. We all need to recognize that the decisions we make every day and the words we use have the power to shape part of the way women are viewed and treated by society at large. That doesn’t just apply to gender, of course. Everyone has the power to be an agent of change and has a responsibility to talk about serious, sensitive issues and set examples by the lives we lead. Advocating for ending violence is in the best interest of nonviolent men because it will improve our own lives and the lives of everyone around us, including the ones we love and want to see lead safe and healthy lives.”
Most violence and oppression is actually related to ignorance and, unfortunately, most of us tend to look at things only through our own perspective. We need to take an active role in trying to change people’s perspectives. When we hear other men saying or doing things that are harmful to women we need respond, to say, “what you said wasn’t right,” or “what you did was unfair.” This makes sense to me as a businessman. When your objective is to achieve profitability in this global economy, it is really critical to have myriad of diverse perspectives and views in the process of creating a product or service. MSV begins with the simple step of just dialoging and educating to include different perspectives.
“It is distressing to see that rape victims typically suffer dual abuse: they are raped and then they are blamed for it. This is painfully evident around the world, and even in our own country where we would like to think we are more progressive.”
“Recent examples of this have motivated me to do more than feel outraged; I want to take action, so I have become an Ally of Men Stopping Violence. Having a daughter, I can imagine how friends and family of the victims must feel. By being an active Ally, I join other men who are speaking out to protect women. And we will motivate others to move forward and protect our women. Converting outrage to action is what the Allies stand for, and I am committed to doing that.”
“As the Dad of two adolescent sons, I’m often troubled when fathers of daughters tell me how much “easier” it is to raise boys, particularly due to the gendered worries that attach to parenting daughters. The assumption seems to be that boys (and their parents) are somehow off the hook – they don’t have to worry about teen dating violence, sexual assault, pregnancy, or “slutty” reputations – rather, all of those worries fall to the girls and (primarily) their mothers to manage. This assumption carries over to women and girls being responsible for their own safety – whether physical, emotional, or both. Men Stopping Violence has worked for more than 30 years to expose and dismantle the fatally flawed logic of such assumptions: As long as the sole focus of these issues stay on the women and girls who are the victims and survivors of male violence, nothing will change. Unless the focus changes to challenge men’s behavior along with the social and cultural constructs that legitimize and perpetuate male violence against women, nothing can change. As fathers, as men, it is our job to teach boys about their unique roles and responsibilities in working to end violence against women. Anna Quindlen once wrote that one of the greatest contributions we can make to society is to raise feminist sons; with the help of MSV, that’s exactly what I am trying to do. It’s hard work – but it’s got to be done.”
“I had the privilege to have been taught by some very powerful and amazing women in my youth and adult years, both in my family, as well as many women leaders, activists, and teachers throughout my adulthood. I have learned much about the experiences of women, the conflicts and hardships as well as the joys in living. Unfortunately, our culture still subtly and not so subtly reinforces the notion that women’s voices are not to be taken seriously. What has been wonderful about my recent experience with MSV is that the work is not only about protecting women by preventing male violence, which is part of the mission and is often the default stance that we need to take as good people. It is about changing our whole culture and attitude about women and men, power and harm. Changing our environmental culture is what we need for men’s voices to be louder in teaching others about being decent, about adding decency to our collective repertoire. As men, we need to lead the way to support other men and women to create more decency in our families, workplace, among friends and the world at large”.
“My current family consists of two sisters and a mother. I am very protective of their well being. I was very fortunate in that my father raised us in a family that respected everything about women and promoted their advancement. It offends me whenever I hear of the way in which women are denigrated. This happens all too often in music, tv, and movies. Until we find a way to change the way the entertainment industry views women, we will continue to have an uphill climb.
Unfortunately I personally know women who are victims of not only physical violence against them but of emotional and psychological violence as well. I try every day to watch what I say about women and how I portray them. We can’t change others until we practice it ourselves!”
“Women are smart, so it makes sense to do what they say. All my life, I have listened to women. It started with my mother, then teachers, then my wife, and now my daughter. I was raised to treat all women the way you would treat your mother. In my business, I prefer to hire women because they pay more attention to details, which makes my job easier. With all these women around me, it was natural that I got involved when two women I knew were in abusive situations. I connected them with people who could help and I continue to keep an eye out. I check in when it looks like things might not be going well. For me, being an Ally is personal.”
“When my father raised his hand and struck my mother’s face, the world as I knew it changed completely. I did not hesitate to protect her…My commitment to feminism thus began with resistance to the abuse of women. When I ordered my father at knife point to leave our home, asserting ‘Get out and leave my mother alone,’ I was uttering one of the oldest sentences in the world. Other boys had said such things to their fathers. I did not want my father out of our lives because I loved him and needed his protection and guidance; what I wanted out of our lives was the violence.” This is an excerpt from “On Becoming a Feminist” Click here to read the complete article
Abuse is based on fear. When a man abuses a woman in any way, it is based on fear. To me, fear is the opposite of love. I never felt fear when I was raising my girls because I love them and out of that love respect comes naturally. Maybe if I had been afraid that they didn’t love me, that they were going to leave, that they didn’t respect me, then I might have been abusive. But I never had any of those fears.
Because of the culture, men feel the pressure to be strong, to provide. That can make a guy pretty afraid. We are afraid of being called a wimp. We need equality to keep from having to feel that fear. What is manhood? What is womanhood? They are really the same; maturity and responsibility. Nobody should have to wear the pants in the family. That idea is so dangerous and so embedded from such an early age. In America, it is a cliché.
Men Stopping Violence is one of the key ways we can change the culture to be more productive, loving, and less fearful. I hope that one day MSV won’t be needed any more. The culture of fear will change and men won’t feel a need to abuse their partners.
“When George invited me to the breakfast, I had my reservations as to what exactly “Men Stopping Violence” was about. As an attorney, I think of violence as battering, physical violence against women. What did that have to do with me? I thought I was aware but didn’t realize the different levels and types of violence that can occur outside the realm of physical violence. It ranges from verbal to physical abuse. Men Stopping Violence creates awareness for me as a father to help my daughters recognize behaviors that are not acceptable. Now I have twin sons, seven months old, and am also learning things to pass on to them. Men Stopping Violence has been an eye-opening program for me to develop myself as a more understanding spouse and father.”
“It doesn’t take guts to stand behind scriptures or traditions that conveniently support one’s own self-interest. Where it takes guts, where one becomes a man, is when he feels an intense emotion, such as frustration, and then, without acting out, he explores that feeling and begins to know himself.”
“I love and care for my wife. It would break my heart to know that anyone would have any thought of emotional, physical, or other abuse toward her or my future daughter.It comes down to every single person having a right to safety and respect in this world. This is informed by my faith; knowing what a cornerstone treating women with respect is. Where my passion comes from, unfortunately, are those situations you see in the news and realize that the view that women have a right to be respected is not shared by everyone. Because of that, I feel a responsibility to step out and be a proponent of the change we want to see, of the cause.I think that it was Dr. King who talked about good people standing idly by while societal ills continue. If we do that, we will never have the society we want.”
Lewis Perkins Hinley
“When a man is unhappy with the course of his own life, he will resort to holding down others, particularly women and children. Violence against women is one of the most severe symbols of an oppressed society we witness today. Women are the very givers of life, not unlike our mother earth. When we take from her without asking, when we abuse her gifts and especially her body, we are demonstrating the hatred, anger, frustration and sadness we feel for ourselves and one another. On the other hand, when a man loves himself and is happy with his course in life, he will not only support the development of his sister, wife, mother and daughter, he will understand that her personal safety is the root foundation of her flourishing and thus his own flourishing and happiness. What the world needs most today is the flourishing of our women in order to solve the social and environmental issues at hand. ”
Q – Why do you think that the Ally breakfast is important?
“I want the women in my life to be able to count on me and to feel safe. It is good to get together with other like-minded men to ponder with sincerity how we treat women. As we age we become set in our ways. At the Ally Breakfast, I get to discuss empowering women, rather than creating leverage or power structures around my interactions with them. In a non-judgmental environment, I am able to talk about being thoughtful, paying attention, being kind, and softening the hard edges in my life. These moments provide the thoughts and direction for my mental gardening.”
“Now is the time for men to stand up with other men and stop the physical, sexual, financial, and psychological violence we perpetrate with women in our family, social, professional, educational, work and community lives.The time has come for men to stop our violence toward women just because it is condoned by society. Battering, marital rape, date rape, sexual abuse of female children, sexual harassment and intimidation in the workplace and educational institutions, sexual objectification of women in advertising, sexual exploitation of women through prostitution, pornography, trafficking, and female genital mutilation; this all must stop.Men cannot wait any longer. Our violence towards women also leaves us men incomplete. This is why I am an ally standing with other men to support Men Stopping Violence.The time has come. The time is now.”
If men are going to be part of the process of ending violence against women, it requires knowledge of ourselves and the part we play. As men engaged in this task, we take the important step of asking ourselves tough questions that take a lot of courage to answer candidly. It isn’t always pretty, but when you come through it, it allows you to reach out to other men and help them make lasting positive changes