Self Empowerment

Men Need to Take Responsibility for the Epidemic of Men’s Violence

From domestic violence to mass shootings, men’s violence takes a deadly toll every day. Men’s violence has become mainstream in every corner of the world. It has been normalized through the Internet, social media, movies, computer games, TV and porn.

The World Health Organization estimates that 1 in 3 women worldwide have been subjected to either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime.

In the United States, 98% of perpetrators of mass shootings are men.

Online violence like cyber-stalking, revenge porn, online harassment, sextortion, online trafficking and doxxing has affected or been witnessed by 85% of women using the internet.

So, why isn’t men’s violence addressed as the global epidemic it is?

Language matters – put the focus on the perpetrator!

Whether we’re speaking about gender based violence or violence against women, we’re easily diminishing the issue through our language. We discuss it as a gender issue or a women’s issue – rather than what it truly is – a men’s issue.

In Sweden, violence against women is officially named as men’s violence against women, which helps to put the focus where it belongs – on the perpetrator.

Accountability starts with language. As long as we continue to report about violence against women or other groups of the population, without mentioning who is perpetrating the violence, we are doing ourselves a disservice.

For far too long, men have enjoyed impunity for the violence they’ve afflicted on women and misogyny has been normalized. Instead, the victims of violence have been analyzed for their behavior, choices, social class or even how they dress.

Whether it’s media reporting or politicians debating, we need to ensure that the language used focuses on the destructive and even deadly actions of men.

Victims need real support.

To create change, we need to provide real support for victims, by creating safe environments to speak truth to justice. This means putting laws in place to make it easier for victims to report violence.

The first of it’s kind consent law introduced in 2018 in Sweden and the similar law introduced in 2022 in Spain, move the legal systems forward in the favor of victims of violence.

Providing support for victims means investing in training and resources to the people and institutions responsible to investigate online and offline cases of violence. There needs to be an understanding of misogyny and patriarchal oppression.

The hurdles that victims of violence have to overcome after enduring the physical and psychological toll of abuse, can make it impossible to even report the crimes against them. The risk of additional online abuse is also an important factor that is far too often overlooked by institutions supposed to support victims.

Given the social media vitriol during and after the Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard trial, feminists have shared their perspectives of how cases like this perpetuate misogyny and will continue to negatively affect victims of violence.

Two thirds of mass shootings in the United States are linked to domestic violence. These mass shootings are also linked to a greater fatality rate. This means that many of mass shooters in the United States have either killed an intimate partner or family member (often a woman) in conjunction with the mass shooting, or that they have a history of domestic violence.

Femicides, the deadly violence that men perpetrate against women, is a reality shaking communities from Mexico to South Africa.

In my home country Sweden, 2022 is a deadly year for women. Unizon, the national association for women’s, girls’ and youth shelters, reports that this year’s deadly violence against women seems to reach catastrophically high levels.

There is a crisis of masculinity and the culture of male privilege and dominance needs to be addressed.

“We see it as normal that it is men who do this because we are so used to men’s violence in all its forms.  Because we fall for the facile and false argument that boys and men are wired to be violent. Because it is easier to think it is a few bad men, or a few evil men, than it is to look at the heart of the problem and see that all of us are implicated.”

writes Gary Barker, President & CEO of Equimundo: Center for Masculinities and Social Justice, in a newsletter following the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

It’s men’s responsibility to end violence – not women’s!

Yes, we know #notallmen. However, when men represent the vast majority of culprits – this group needs to be addressed.

Just like not all white people are racists, all white people are privileged just because of the color of their skin. Whether they’ve come to realize it or not. Dismantling racism, means dismantling white supremacy and the privileges and oppression that come with it.

Ending violence against women, means understanding that ALL men are privileged because of patriarchy that exists in the societies that we live in.

Men benefit from a system that has oppressed women for centuries – whether they realize it or not. The normalization of male dominance – and their perceived right to exercise power over others – needs to be questioned by men themselves.

Dismantling the patriarchy isn’t about taking away the human rights of men. Instead, it’s about underscoring the rights of women to live in safety, free from fear, discrimination and violence.

5 ways men can get involved to end violence against women today.

  1. Participate in the movement. Become a member or a monthly donor to an organization working to prevent men’s violence against women through addressing the crisis in masculinity. Examples are Sonke Gender Justice (Africa), MÄN (Sweden), Equimundo (USA), Promundo (Brazil) and Men Engage (Global.
  2. Assess your own privilege honestly. Have a conversation with your male friends about how you have benefitted from male privilege throughout your life. If you have trouble identifying areas of privilege, ask women you trust about their experiences.
  3. Learn and grow. Listen to podcasts like Man Enough (or read the book with the same title, also available in Spanish). Read books like The Time Has Come, For the Love of Men or The Will To Change
  4. Speak out against sexism and the normalization of violence against women. Say something when someone cracks a joke that demeans women. Call out the man harassing women on public transportation. Have a conversation with the boy watching porn on the schoolyard. Speak to the men around you about the responsibility you all have.
  5. Show up, advocate and vote for change. Attend marches, rallies and events – your presence matters. Take the issue seriously when you elect officials to represent you at the local and national levels. Ask your representatives what they’re doing about it. I’m sure the organization you’ve joined or started supporting today can help you with more ideas on how to get involved.




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