Engaging Men and Boys in Challenging Violence Against Women
A Joint statement between Connect and the Transition Houses Association of Nova Scotia
Every so often, women serving organizations are confronted by this question: “But what about men and boys?” There is a real concern that men and boys are inundated with negative messages about what it means to be a man, concurrent with often-heard critical statements that support and services for victims of violence are only offered to women.
The fact is, women’s organizations such as Transition Houses and Women’s Centres Connect grew out of grassroots, community efforts in response to the observed need to support women as victims of domestic violence. These supports and services are offered to women not because of biological sex but because women statistically have been, and remain more likely to be subject to domestic and other forms of gender-based violence.
Women are far more likely to be the victim of violence by an intimate partner, or in the form of sexualized assaults, such as date rape, or human trafficking for the purposes of sexual labour compared to men. Hence, the women’s sector has developed a range of professional services and supports specifically responding to this particular form of violence. Women are also more likely to be in financially precarious positions, directly tied to the fact that they shoulder unpaid work such as child and elder care and domestic chores to a disproportionate extent- which increases their vulnerability.
Women, therefore, are not inherently marginalized or vulnerable but are made so through systematic oppression happening in private and in public.
Violence against women has a complicated, heavy fallout, involving physical, mental and emotional damage, as well as long-term legal and financial repercussions. It may include homelessness, loss of family support and affect employment and income. Navigating the systems set in place to manage such repercussions and offering support requires a particular professional skillset and experiences offered by our member organizations. It is also important to note that our organizations provide a range of programming for families and all genders including men and boys. Much of our prevention and education work is addressing socialized masculinity. We also bring programs to schools and our communities around bullying, dating violence and consent.
Supporting women does not mean the exclusion of men and boys. Rather, it will lead the way toward a more holistic, equitable and fair society, in which the health and safety of all its members are respected and cherished.