In recognition of Elimination of Violence Against Women and Children on November 25th, WU World Changer Estelle Bonaceto shares why human right’s issues are everyone’s issues.
“With laws to protect women and punish perpetrators, services to rebuild women’s lives and comprehensive prevention that starts early, ending violence against women and girls can become a reality.” — From UN WOMEN Invest and mobilize to end violence against women.
Recently, individuals on social media resurrected the #metoo campaign to shed light on the magnitude of harassment and assault of women.
I felt a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach as I read the numerous accounts of men’s indiscretions, misogynistic behaviors, expressed sexism, outright assaults and of the many bystanders who remained silent. One such post also asked men to come forward and admit their own violations. There were countless stories, men tagged as predators and emotionally charged expressions of injustice.
My response was the following:
“In order for there to be justice and a true shift in energy away from a misogynistic culture we need to call out the ‘Good Men.’ Elevate them, celebrate them and remind them of their importance in educating and guiding youth toward true self-acceptance and instilling values which honor all life. The roots of gender violence run deep and unifying our intentions to maintain human dignity regardless of gender is key.”
I was met with this reply, ” I don’t feel that I need to be their victim AND their teacher.”
She was right. Far too few men have stepped up. The emotional labor and burden for women needing to protect themselves and others are reflective of a greater imbalance.
We are entering a time of greater reflection and many can no longer ignore the imbalance of energies between peoples because those issues do not appear to impact oneself as part of a dominant group.
Human rights issues are everyone’s issues.
We need more men with the guts, with the courage, with the strength, with the moral integrity to break our complicit silence and challenge each other and stand with women and not against them. — Jackson Katz
Underlying adversarial attitudes, gender stereotypes, and beliefs are at the core of gender-specific discord and violence. Their origins stem from the cultural messages which equate feminine attributes with weakness and inferiority. We must dispute faulty information gained over a lifetime of conditioning and seek to find universal truths so that we may honor one another FULLY, regardless of gender.
Our inner ecology has a direct impact on the outer.
In order to bring balance back, each of us needs to be courageously committed and accountable to increasing our self-awareness for positive change. Suppressed emotions, attempts to rob another of their power to elevate one’s own, hatreds, opportunism and inhumane treatment of any being, are not in harmony with natural laws.
I see violence against others as a projection of the violence we feel towards ourselves – a physical manifestation of self-loathing and existential crisis.
I see capitalism and materialism as roots of that self-hatred.
In order to change violence towards others, we must all remember that we are sacred beings born into LOVE. We are not the means to bottom lines nor a means to validate power.
— Tia Fattaruso
Being honest about our inner lives is the first step toward reducing violence.
Roots of violence rest in core wounds, suppressed emotions stemming from abuse or neglect, and feelings of powerlessness. Gender role stereotypes create distorted expectations and encourage a false representation of self. There are power and virtue in both the masculine and the feminine. To acknowledge that human beings are comprised of BOTH masculine and feminine aspects, AND to embody that truth, is to honor a greater connected truth amongst ALL people.
Early Prevention: What Individuals Can Do
- Human rights begin at home. The level of respect and safety in one’s home environment will dramatically influence members experiences outside of the home.
- Media continues to minimize and normalize violence against women. Don’t allow it to desensitize you. Refuse to accept violence against women as good entertainment.
- Make a commitment to stand up to rationalizations, minimizations and outright lies that support/dismiss the offenses of perpetrators. Each one of us makes a difference in how we reinforce or dispel the attitudes and behaviors which underlie violent crime.
- We are just as responsible for what we don’t do and say. A concept that applies to all issues where bystanders are either reluctantly agreeing or silent in response to oppressive comments or actions.
We need to redefine strength in men, not as the power over other people, but as forces for justice. — Jackson Katz
True strength is found in empathy and in recognizing and accepting the vulnerability within ourselves and within others. Conscious adults must take the lead. There is no nobility in denying weakness nor in exploiting the weakness of others.
Each one of us may embody the changes we wish to see. Our greatest strength lies in leading by example.
Resources and ways to get involved:
- Learn more about the United Nation’s 2017 theme for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, Leave No One Behind.
- UN WOMEN – 16 days of activism against gender-based violence