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Whanganui Midweek - 2021-11-24

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Call-in Culture if you want change

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You can help prevent men’s violence towards women by being a positive influence on other men. “Effective prevention has to move beyond just saying violence is wrong,” says White Ribbon Ambassador Richie Hardcore. “We need to promote alternative healthy behaviours such as Respectful Relationships, Healthy Masculinity and Consent so we’ve created a new video and added a new Toolbox to help men get comfortable with the concept. If we want change, we must encourage boys and men to recruit and educate other boys and men in ways that lift each other up. An effective way to do this is by ‘inviting’ men, rather than indicting them. This means not only modelling positive behaviour in front of each other, but also understanding that other men might be at a different part of their journey and still working it out for themselves. “It’s easy to call people out, and let’s face it, we have to call out violence or bad behaviour,” says Mr Hardcore. “Saying nothing simply allows the perpetrator to believe their behaviour or attitude is ok. But we need to be subtler and start calling people in, not simply calling them out. “If we want people to change, we need to learn how to effectively engage them, and have meaningful conversations to promote sustained change. The reality is, that believing in the rigid rules of masculinity is 20 times more likely to predict committing violence than other demographic factors like ethnicity, age or income.” “That means the beliefs that fuel violence are far more entrenched and possibly learned behaviour. Instead of jumping down your mate’s throat for saying the wrong thing, try asking questions: If your mate says something sexist, ask them why they think that, or where they got that idea from? You could tell them that you don’t understand and ask them what they mean. You can also draw on your own values that support respectful behaviour.” David Cournane, White Ribbon Ambassador and deputy principal of Aotea College agrees. “Once upon a time if you were coaching a team you would have highlighted mistakes and used shame to call out unwanted behaviours. While we still have to correct errors, there is now much more of a focus on finding those moments where the players are doing something well, and using these as key learning moments. With a focus upon growing from our strengths and our successes, we are more likely to engage those around us. “I know that being empathetic, and understanding the drivers behind someone’s behaviour, and speaking to those issues, is far more effective than just simply calling someone out. If you want people to change, you’ve got to give them a reason to change, and that requires being empathetic and kind,” says Mr Cournane. Talk with other men We’re all on a journey to reduce and eliminate men’s violence and we need to demonstrate not just why something is harmful, but that there are alternatives that are more fulfilling. In this journey, it is important to involve men in violence prevention efforts, not only because men perpetrate the majority of violence, but because men can play a positive role in intervening in this space. Most men think violence against women is unacceptable. In fact, men routinely overestimate other men’s comfort with sexist, coercive, and derogatory comments and behaviours. Research repeatedly shows that most men are uncomfortable when other men act in sexist and discriminatory ways, but are afraid to raise this because they believe they are in a minority. Yet, men also drastically underestimate other men’s willingness to intervene in violence against women. As recent research in Aotearoa has shown, when given the chance to speak openly and safely about difficult questions of sex, gender, and ethics, some young men engage in critical and thoughtful ways around topics that they often find difficult to discuss. Thus, while we must continue to hold individual men and male dominated institutions responsible for their actions, we can avoid language that implies that all men and boys are to blame, and instead harness their sense of fairness and their frustration with witnessing injustice. Shining a Light can make a difference: Invited, not indicted You can help prevent violence by being a positive influence on other men. Effective prevention moves beyond simply stopping violence into promoting alternative healthy behaviours. We must encourage boys and men to recruit and educate other boys and men in ways that lift each other up. An effective way to do this is by ‘inviting’ men, rather than indicting them. This means not only modelling positive behaviour in front of each other, but also understanding that other men might be at a different part of their journey and still working it out for themselves. So, when someone says something stupid online, or says something sexist in real life, this is an opportunity to effectively engage them and have meaningful conversations to promote sustained change. But jumping down your mate’s throat for saying the wrong thing might not be the best way to get him to change his behaviour. Instead, try asking questions: If your mate says something sexist, ask them why they think that, or where they got that idea from? You could tell them that you don’t understand and ask them what they mean. You can also draw on your own values that support respectful behaviour. These could be cultural values, such as the Tikanga Māori values of Mana Tāne, Mana Wahine, religious beliefs, or general ideas like Everyone’s equal or A fair go for all. Stay cool and calm, and really try to listen Because some men are used to fighting, conflict, and arguing, it can be very disarming to show some compassion and care. Take every opportunity to talk to men about how men are portrayed on TV, among friends, and in whānau. Talk to them about the ‘man box’ – where men must appear tough, aggressive and in charge in front of other men. Listen and encourage them to try out different ways to express their identities and values. Check out White Ribbon’s toolbox on Breaking out of the Man Box.

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