VIOLENCE FORUM: To End Violence Against Women, Target Misogyny

December 17, 2008 posted by admin

All efforts to eliminate poverty, increase access to quality education, provide adequate healthcare, and clean up the environment must be done in the context of respect for women and children. Prevention of violence against women must begin with boys, by challenging traditional understandings of masculinity, eliminating sexism, and teaching new ways of interpersonal interaction. Universal and targeted primary programs aimed at young boys and adolescents would be the main vehicle for accomplishing this. Although poverty and all its associated stresses increase the risk of violence against women, as long as there is sexism and misogynistic beliefs about women, this violence will occur across all socioeconomic strata as men act out their needs for power and control. Greater attention to the atrocities committed against women globally will bring into sharper focus violence against women locally, underscoring violence against women as a human rights issue. I would encourage more support for the Office of Violence Against Women and give it, as well as the Division for Violence Prevention of the Centers for Disease Control, a mandate to fund and evaluate primary prevention programs aimed at eliminating violence against women. --Jacquelyn W. White, PhD, Interim Associate Dean for Research, College of Arts and Sciences, and Professor of Psychology, University of North Carolina at Greensboro This post is part of a forum

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Take a look at the latest data from Human Rights Watch, and their article “US: Soaring Rates of Rape and Violence Against Women: More Accurate Methodology Shows Urgent Need for Preventive Action” on the Human Rights Watch website at: “The Human Rights Watch’s national recommendations include: 1. The Obama administration should appoint a special adviser on violence against women in the US 2. Congress should restore full funding to the Office on Violence Against Women 3. The Department of Justice, through the National Institute of Justice, should authorize comprehensive studies that more accurately track sexual and domestic violence in the US, especially among individuals who are least likely to be surveyed by the National Crime Victimization Survey 4. Congress should increase funding for sexual and domestic violence prevention, intervention, and treatment programs 5. Congress should amend the federal Debbie Smith Act, a grant program designed to eliminate the rape kit backlog, but that states can and have used for other kinds of DNA backlogs 6. The US should ratify the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which obligates states to prevent, protect against, and punish violence against women.”
Melissa, I totally agree that we want to enlist men and boys as allies in our campaign to eliminate violence against women; we do not want them to be enemies. They are are all someone's father or brother or friend or husband or lover. The social construction of masculinity that includes domination of women and other markers of strength and control, such as aggression, victimizes men and boys. A misogynist society harms us all.
Jacquelyn, I think you make an excellent point about the need to co-opt men and boys in the fight to end violence against women. I would add that the way in which involving and educating men is done should be tactful and helpful and in a way that doesn't imply that all men and boys are to blame but rather, to enlist men and boys as allies and essential parties to this struggle. Framing the end of sexism and mysogyny as a dare to our generation and framing this goal as an achieable goal will also be crucial to the buy-in that can be expected from society at large. Kind regards, Melissa