In the end it was the boys.
I was in
A woman’s organization in
So, there I was in
It was a normal group of young men: noisy and excited to be out of class for the morning. Before the group arrived, I had done a quick training with a group who had volunteered to facilitate smaller group discussions, although given our numbers, there would be twenty-five guys in each group. For the next two hours, we went back and forth, between my talking in the whole group or hearing what they had to say, and a couple of discussions in the smaller groups. We talked about our ideas of masculinity and femininity, about inequality, and our acceptance of violence against women. As I told stories about how no man can live up to the expectations of masculinity and about our attitudes towards women, the room grew hushed. Then in their small groups, they figured out how all this linked to violence against women.
I knew from other workshops they would make the connections. What got me, though, was one incredible moment near the end. On a paper flipchart, we had written some of the words they associated with manhood: strong, macho, no emotions, athletic, “well-equipped”, gets lots of sex, and so forth. I held up this sheet of paper and said these were ideas that had been around for several thousand years. They had brought a lot of suffering to women. They brought rewards to men, but in the end, brought us a lot of problems too. I said if they were bad for women and were impossible for men to achieve, then all we needed to do was get rid of them. With a flourish I crunched the paper in a giant ball and threw it away. And to my surprise and delight, two hundred young men broke into a huge cheer and clapping that went on and on.
There have been many fine moments in
But in the end, it was those boys who I will long remember.- Michael Kaufman, co-founder, White Ribbon Campaign