Saturday, December 11, 2010

TED Talks - Tony Porter: A Call to Men (on Violence Against Women)

Nice talk - although this is only a partial perspective, which may be harmful in itself.

It's not acting like a man that is the problem - since what constitutes "a man" is a socially constructed ideal - it's enacting violence as a misunderstanding of what it is to be a man. Too many men are taught that violence - including violence against women - is fundamental to masculinity. It's not.

For an opposing view to the perspective in this video, see below - this is not as clean-cut an issue as many think - some research suggests women hit men far more often than men hit women.
At TEDWomen, Tony Porter makes a call to men everywhere: Don't "act like a man." Telling powerful stories from his own life, he shows how this mentality, drummed into so many men and boys, can lead men to disrespect, mistreat and abuse women and each other. His solution: Break free of the "man box."

Tony Porter is the visionary and co-founder behind the nonprofit A Call to Men: The National Association of Men and Women Committed to Ending Violence Against Women. Porter’s message of engagement and self-examination has connected powerfully with numerous domestic and sexual violence programs for such high-profile groups as the National Football League and the National Basketball Association, and colleges and universities around the country, including the US Military Academy at West Point and the US Naval Academy at Annapolis. Porter is also an international lecturer for the U.S. State Department, having done extensive work in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

He is a faculty member of the New York State Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services Academy of Addiction Studies, where he co-authored their curriculum for clinicians who work with chemically dependent African-Americans. He also specializes in developing social justice models for human service organizations.

Paul Elam recently responded to an article by Christopher Kilmartin - Society for the Psychological Study of Men and Masculinity (SPSMM) - at the Good Men Project Magazine, “Violence Is a Men’s Issue” with a rebuttal of that premise. Here is part of his article, also posted at the Good Men Project Magazine, "Men and Violence: Blaming the Blameless."

[By the way - it's good to see a public debate between the men's rights movement (MRM) folks, of which Paul Elam is a leader the APA Division 51 Men's Studies academic they so dislike.]
It is another in a continuation of efforts on their part to promote the idea that “toxic definitions of masculinity” are the root culprit of much of our cultural violence, and that we must band together as men to confront one another until the problem is ameliorated.

All the article does, in reality, is provide a prime example of an egregiously thoughtless worldview, driven by an intent to promote a blind and sexist political ideology.


As you take the short trip through the convoluted and contradictory lines of that piece, penned by Christopher Kilmartin, you will need to suspend your common sense to agree with any of his conclusions.

To begin with, toxic masculinity, as stated in the article, is defined in the most lacking and muddled of terms. Kilmartin writes, “Violent men nearly all adhere to toxic definitions of masculinity. In gender-based violence—rape, intimate partner violence, etc.—these definitions of manhood include an especially strong dose of dominance and woman-hating. And these definitions are supported by the men they associate with and the culture at large.”

First, one must wonder, in a culture where the “vast majority” of men are not violent, where does the support from the “culture at large,” come from?

Furthermore, intimate partner violence is not “gender based.” There are volumes of research that point conclusively to the fact that women are as often, or more often than men, the initiators of IPV.

While men are often more successful at causing injury than women, it does not detract from the fact that all violence, physically injurious or not, can result in emotional harm to the victim and to children, regardless of the sex of the perpetrator. As most people are aware, it is not about the bruises to the body, but to the psyche—to all those involved. Actual physical harm is serious, but treating the greater incidence of female injuries as though they encapsulate and define the IPV problem in its entirety is myopic at best, ideologically disingenuous at worst.

It is born of gender tunnel vision, where only one victim, one kind of pain, and one perpetrator are visible.

Read both articles to hear both sides of the argument.

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