Engaging men in the fight against sexual violence

On this week's episode of Talking Radical Radio, Scott Neigh speaks with Danielle Aubry and Joe McGuire. Aubry is the CEO of Calgary Communities Against Sexual Abuse and McGuire is a sexual assault educator with that organization. They talk about their work to engage men in the long, multi-faceted struggle to end sexual violence.

The overall effort to combat sexual violence tends to incorporate many different strands of work, in recognition of how tragically many ways our institutions, our social relations, and our practices as individuals enable, legitimize, and encourage sexual violence. Some efforts focus on changing how institutions respond after sexual violence has occurred, whether that is healthcare institutions, social services, employers, or police and courts. Other efforts are more grounded in preventing sexual violence, whether that is through challenging how schools and the media are complicit, through addressing broad gendered inequalities that lay much of the groundwork for sexual violence, or through directly challenging the ways in which state institutions are complicit in sexual violence (particularly as it impacts the lives of Indigenous women, Black women, sex workers, homeless women, and many differently situated trans people). Still others focus on building grassroots relationships among women and other gender oppressed people as a way of both fostering healing and of building collective power to work against sexual violence and for gender justice.

Another strand of work, however, begins from the reality that, even though sexual violence can be and is perpetrated by people of all different genders, the vast majority of it is perpetrated by cisgender men. This line of thinking argues that -- within the broad spectrum of other ways we need to be challenging sexual violence, the rape culture that enables it, and the gendered inequality that underlies it -- we should equip a core of sympathetic men to be able to intervene in everyday ways with their peers. Such men are ideally situated to challenge rape culture and toxic masculinity, and to have difficult conversations with other men about gender, sexuality, violence, and justice. And not only that, fostering a pro-feminist understanding of such things can help men recognize and navigate the much more limited but nonetheless still painful ways in which toxic masculinity and patriarchy can be harmful to men as well.

The "ManEnough?" program is an eight-module course that engages men in challenging conversations about things like masculinity, sexuality, male privilege, male violence, rape culture, and ways that men can take action around these things in our everyday lives. Aubry and McGuire speak with me about the organization, the program, and the importance of engaging men in efforts to challenge sexual violence and rape culture.

To learn more about Calgary Communities Against Sexual Assault's "ManEnough?" program, click here.

Talking Radical Radio brings you grassroots voices from across Canada. We give you the chance to hear many different people that are facing many different struggles talk about what they do, why they do it, and how they do it, in the belief that such listening is a crucial step in strengthening all of our efforts to change the world. To learn more about the show check out its website here. You can also follow us on FaceBook or Twitter, or contact scottneigh@talkingradical.ca to join our weekly email update list.

Talking Radical Radio is brought to you by Scott Neigh, a writer, media producer, and activist based in Hamilton (formerly Sudbury), Ontario, and the author of two books examining Canadian history through the stories of activists.

The image that was modified for use in this post was taken from the website of Calgary Communites Against Sexual Assault.

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