How can we get men seriously involved in the conversation about violence prevention? Requiring almost radical empathy, rather than thinking of men as potential perpetrators of domestic violence, we need to recast men as allies against violence.
In her excellent
TED talk Esta Soler, a game-changer in prevention of domestic violence, offers a "tipping point" when suddenly these efforts became a movement involving the other 50% of the population.
National polling had told Soler that men felt indicted rather than invited in the violence prevention.
Requiring almost radical empathy, Soler worked to recast men as allies, rather than the perpetrators of domestic violence.
A mindset shift happened. How do we prevent men from hurting women became: how do we get men to speak out against violence?
The answer: men talk to their kids as parents and coaches.
"And he was talking about the importance of coaching boys into men and changing the culture of the locker room and giving men the tools to have healthy relationships. And all of a sudden, he looked at the back of the room, and he saw his daughter, and he called out his daughter's name, Michaela, and he said, "Michaela, come up here." And she's nine years old, and she was kind of shy, and she got up there, and he said, "Sit down next to me." She sat right down next to him. He gave her this big hug, and he said, "People ask me why I do this work. I do this work because I'm her dad, and I don't want anyone ever to hurt her."
In looking over all the fantastic contributions from this challenge so far, I'm struck by the importance of engaging men, creating systems of support for men and women, and reducing fear.
It's not that men are on one side and women are on the other.
They are on the same side.