Guest blog by Jonathan Grove
As the only male staff person at the Pacific Lutheran University Women’s Center, and one of very few nation-wide, it may be strange to hear me discuss “Resistance.” Women’s Centers have been positioned as a haven for women from the oppressive patriarchal culture we live in. As a result, it can seem odd that a man is part of that community given that patriarchy is understood to represent his interests. However, men’s resistance to this system is critical, though, defining exactly what that resistance means for men, has often proved challenging.
Resistance to harmful systems of social power is practiced by increasing awareness of the harm done and creating conversations to illuminate healthy and/or less harmful alternatives. For men this certainly means educating ourselves and others that:
While a small percentage of men sexually assault 1 in 4 college women and 1 in 6 boys at some point in their lifetime, most men continue to simply feel guilty by association. We do that by convincing ourselves that these are “women’s issues” and that we somehow are not deeply connected to women. As a result, we allow excuses to be made for perpetrator actions by blaming victims and we remain silent rather than challenge the harm done to those we love.
Homophobia harms all men by denying our right to be valued for the entirety of who we are – from our emotions and relationships with other men, to our sexuality. Instead, we kill ourselves (sometimes literally) trying to fit someone else’s definition of who we should be, while our insecurities drive us to devalue anyone not “man enough” (ie: ourselves and gay men, trans folks, and women especially).
The conversations we need to have, should start with these issues, but focus on creating less painful ways of being men. Without language for and demonstrated examples of masculinities that accept and represent the entire man – including men’s emotional depth and love for others, especially other men – the status quo will remain. We all need deeper relationships with the men in our lives: fathers, brothers and friends. Yes this can be scary, and absolutely requires hard work, courage and leadership – but isn’t that what we expect of men?
Jonathan Grove has served as the PLU Men Against Violence Project Coordinator since inception of the program in 2005. Involved in survivor support and engaging men in these efforts since 2003, he currently works to broaden involvement and bring innovative prevention education programs to PLU. One of a limited number of men with experience working with male groups on gender violence prevention, Jonathan is invested in sharing his experiences through presenting workshops across the nation.