General on MAV
Why is the group called Men Against Violence?
The name Men Against Violence is a name that has been common among groups of men who work to end violence against women. Any name is difficult to construct without seeming to limit the scope of the group. The main purpose of MAV is to end the sexual and physical abuse that women that we care about are subjected to at staggering rates
Is the group only for men?
While the group is primarily for men, women are encouraged to participate! The group focuses on getting men involved in taking a stand against violence against women and clearly women know men. Additionally women can also effectively show men why these issues are important for them as men who care about women.
The other focus for the group is to create a safe place and time to talk about growing up male... a conversation that can often create vulnerability. As we discuss issues around how masculinity is constructed and taught, men will tend to speak from their own experience. This may be limiting to the conversation, whereas a female voice can add a point of view not otherwise considered.
Because of the gender roles that we have all grown up with, it may feel more comfortable for men to share in an all male group, but that is not always the case. Keeping that in mind, it very important that we communicate what is comfortable and what we need.
Why is the language I use so important?
In our society we like to believe that "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but your words will never hurt me". Though we want to believe this, we all know from experience that words can and do wound us deeply.
When a man stands up to support women, the GLBTQ community, and other underprivileged groups in our society the terms used by others to reign him in are meant to hurt. They are most often feminizing or question his sexual orientation - which sends a very clear message about what is thought about being a woman and/or homosexual. According to this argument, being female, gay, lesbian or trans makes someone less than the speaker. Language is very powerful, and we hear these comments fairly often... do we really believe this? We are saying it.
Why is the group based in the Women's Center?
When most men begin doing work like this, it is most often based out of a feminist organization such as a Women's Center. This can be uncomfortable for men who have been taught that feminism is "bad", feminists hate men, and believing in feminist ideals is emasculating.
The truth is that feminism is about promoting equality, and men who want to work for equality are just as welcome as anyone.
What feminism has done for women in the past, the opening up of what women can do and be, is something that men need to learn from. Equality can also mean working to allow men to just be themselves rather than feeling like they must live up to some image.
Missing out on the depth and beauty of life by denying feelings, causing himself and others injury by using violence when communication could solve his current and future problems... those are things men should learn how to do, and women can be great allies and teachers in doing so.
Why do we need a "Women's" Center, isn't that unfair to men?
When men come into the Women's Center, it is normal to feel like an outsider... it's even been described as uncomfortable. Most men have that reaction and there's good reason for it. American men grow up in a culture that is built around and for men. Think about your favorite restaurant, club, room, etc. The kinds of things that make you feel comfortable are most likely "male" things if you are a male, and "female" things if you're female. We have all been taught what gender certain things or colors are. Blue for boys, right?
When you think about places that are places designed for women, what do you come up with? The reason it is pretty difficult is that most places in this country are "Men's". The Women's Center is a place for women... where the environment is supportive and comfortable for women, where issues that women care about are in the forefront.
Having a Center for women is the least that women can have... one place on our campus created for them... us men, we have the rest.
I don't have much time to spare, but how can I help?
PLU students are notoriously over-extended... sound familiar? How can you be involved if you don't have time to make it to each meeting or event?
Start by making it to as many events as you can... the greater the numbers the more visibility we have.
Talk to your friends about the group and why you think it is important work. Suggest they come with you when you can make it, or that they check out some of the resources here. Post comments if you use Facebook on what you liked about articles or issues raised. Ask your RA or professor to have MAV present or do a program - maybe a film in your hall?
Have an idea but aren't sure where to go with it? Let us know and we'll try to help make it happen!