Bonnie Support Services

Bonnie Support Services

How to stand up for what’s right

There are a lot of men who believe passionately that violence against women and children is wrong but aren’t sure where to start to prevent it. How can good men make a difference? I’d say there are two main things for men to keep in mind.

The people who could do most to improve the situation of so many women and children are in fact men. It’s in our hands to stop violence against women.

Patrick Stewart

For right or wrong, men don’t get challenged for having opinions the way women do, and men’s voices tend to be listened to in a way that women’s aren’t. As a man you can use your voice to speak up. Not on a stage, or through a megaphone necessarily, but simply with your friends and colleagues.

Use your position as a man to challenge things

Make a decision to challenge gendered language and sexist viewpoints with the people who already respect your voice. Don’t leave it up to the women you know to speak up – they might feel unsafe, or worried that they will be laughed at our intimidated if they speak out. If someone you know says something, challenge them, use the fact that your voice is listened to, that you, most likely won’t be called “crazy” or “hormonal”.

For example, say one of your mates makes a joke about slapping a woman’s bottom. Instead of laughing along, you should say something. Silence is seen as approval. Your mate who said the silly joke might never hit a woman in his life, but maybe that guy you only sort of know does think about hitting women, and hearing that joke, he’s going to think to himself “Cool, other people feel the way I do, it must be ok with these guys”.

He isn’t going to know that it makes you uncomfortable unless you challenge it. Something like, “Hey, that’s not ok to say that”. If you are quiet or smiling along (even uncomfortably), he’ll think you’re on the same page. It might make you feel awkward to speak up, but that’s part of the work we all have to do to challenge violence.

Change starts with the kids

Young boys are constantly getting subliminal messages about how girls should be treated. A recent ad* put out by the Australian government showed acts of gendered violence, stemming from, or excused by, “innocent” childhood comments.  Every time a boy is told “don’t do that, it’s girly” he hears “being a girl is the worst thing I could be”, every time he is told “you run like a girl” he hears “being a girl is shameful and embarrassing”. How can boys respect girls if being a girl is seen as the worst thing in the world? Of course, not every boy who hears these messages is going to grow up to be violent, but many are. We know this because EVERY girl is going to grow up to experience some form of violence or harassment in her lifetime.

Take a quick check of your inherited bias. Talk to boys about gender equality. Show them that femininity is not the antithesis of strength. When we lead through example and speak up in front of the young boys in our life, we’re showing them that challenging sexism doesn’t diminish their masculinity, but helps them become great men.

It doesn’t matter how annoying a woman is, she doesn’t deserve to be slapped; it doesn’t matter what a woman is wearing, she doesn’t deserve to be catcalled.

I know there are a lot of men wanting to make a difference but it can seem impossible. The trick is to start small. Start with your kids and the people you know. It will make a difference. You will make a difference.

Written by Asha

*Watch the ad here…

Ready to do a bit more? Have a read of this…

And this…

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