Minnesota Men's Action Network
Sexual and Domestic Violence: Whose Problem Is It Anyway?
The federal Violence Against Women Act of 2005 states that “nearly 1/3 of American women report physical and sexual abuse by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives”. The U.S. Department of Justice indicates that “1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men reported experiencing an attempted or completed rape at some time in their lives”. The perpetrators of these assaults are almost always men. It is time for well meaning men to acknowledge that this is a male problem.
For the past 30 years, women have done courageous work running rape crisis centers, battered women’s agencies, 24 hour hotlines and safe houses. They have led the way in working with policy makers across the country to revise and reform the institutional responses to sexual violence, including assault and harassment, as well as reforming the public and private response to domestic violence-related crimes. They have advocated prevention approaches through community awareness and educational programs in multiple sectors of society. Some men have been involved in these efforts as advocates, concerned citizens, or community professionals. The vast majority of men, however, have been passive bystanders to the violence and the precursors to violence around them, while a staggering number of men have been beating and raping women and children. It is time for well meaning men to act!
Men are in a particularly unique position to help change the environment in which sexual and domestic violence occurs. As men, we are often involved in policy making decisions in the public and private sector that create or inadvertently support dangerous social standards that are simply perceived as “normal” male behavior. Men are often engaged in, or witness, interactions in locker rooms, at hunting camps, or in office cubicles that support notions of women’s sexual objectification and social subordination. Having participated in these interactions personally, men are uniquely qualified to call them into question and challenge other men, helping dispel the myths and reveal the consequences of these all too common exchanges. Men’s unique responsibility in ending men’s violence is not only associated with these personal exchanges, or the extent to which men control major institutions in the culture, but also because men commit over 90% of these offenses.
A broad and diverse network of men is needed to align with the voices and historically groundbreaking activities of women to prevent sexual and domestic violence. Minnesota needs: 1) Men who will promote fair and safe relationships. 2) Men who create and support healthy, joyful, sexuality. 3) Men who will promote organizational practices and public policies that respect the dignity of every human being, not as sexualized objects or social subordinates to use, exploit, or disregard, but as persons with inalienable rights to choose the opportunities and circumstances of their lives.
The MN Men’s Action Network was initiated by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) to build a public/private prevention effort that promotes male leadership. To this end, a collaborative effort between the MDH, Men As Peacemakers in Duluth and the Gender Violence Institute in Clearwater has been created to develop a network of men and male leaders involved in primary prevention practices. Current efforts are being supported by MDH, the Bush Foundation and the MN Department of Public Safety
Goals for 2010 - 2011
- Create a diverse network of 500 men to initiate local and statewide strategies to prevent sexual and domestic violence.
Work with identified communities to develop local sexual and domestic violence prevention activities.
Offer presentations, training, technical assistance and organizational workshops throughout the state.
- Develop web based information, resource links, and statewide networking opportunities.
Contact Us To Get Involved
There are multiple ways men can participate, depending on their available time and resources. To sign up on the web site go here. After filling in your contact data, click the "submit" button at the bottom of the page.
Send us the names and contact information of men or men´s groups who you think may be interested in participating in this effort. We will contact them and give them an opportunity to be involved.