As I checked my Twitter feed on the morning of Tuesday, April 30, 2013, I expected to find mostly depressing news, as I follow folks who speak out about Violence Against Women. What I found was even more disturbing than I had anticipated. I read several tweets about an “Ex-Girlfriend Target” that bleeds when shot. I clicked links to articles written about this and what I read was deeply troubling.
As I continued to read more responses to the target, I found myself moving from total disappointment towards anger, an emotion that I’ve been intentional about not expressing in unhealthy ways since entering the Men’s Anti-Violence Movement.
This target that was being sold online is obviously terrible for many reasons. Ultimately, it supports a hierarchy where men are in power and use women as target practice to keep our stronghold over them.
Zombie Industries, the producer of the “Ex-Girlfriend Target,” is encouraging men to take out their anger with actual guns on targets that look like women while they imagine their ex-girlfriend’s body in one of the most overtly violent acts. Preparing oneself to feel pride, relief, maybe even happiness as a simulated human is bleeding after it’s filled with bullets encourages femicide, domestic violence, and a hatred for women and girls.
Due to severe public backlash, Zombie Industries recently stated that it will redesign its shooting target to have green skin to differentiate it from a real woman. But this minor alteration only demonstrates their inability to recognize the gravity of gender violence. According to The Huffington Post, CEO Roger Davis said that Zombie Industries is sorry if the company offended anyone with the target and disappointed that “people’s feelings were hurt.”
As Monica Casper, Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Arizona, noted, “Hurt feelings are not the problem here; structural violence is the problem.”
If it isn’t clear yet, violence against women directly hurts men, too. We are trained to allow our bodies to be tools to perpetuate cycles of violence and contribute to a system that not only remains silent about, but actually celebrates and makes games out of killing women. Living in a culture of violence produces men and boys who can’t express real emotions other than anger, stripping us of the full potential of our humanity.
So I’m going to offer some advice based on a novel thought: Most men and boys are not okay with violence against women. Though some might not be at the stage where they regard this particular “target” as “bad,” I’m willing to vouch for the majority that are ready to do something. Step one, of course, is to never buy something that encourages gender violence. Outside of that, I’ve put together a list of ten more tangible things men can do to actively take a stand against violence against women. It’s time we put an end to all forms of violence and step up as a community.
10 Ways Men Can Prevent Gender-Based Violence
1. Communicate. One of our largest problems is that we do not talk. No one is a mind-reader. If we talk with our partners, we can understand each other’s wishes, thoughts, and desires. Consent should never be assumed.
2. Educate Yourself. There is lot of information on Domestic Violence that we ought to learn and understand. “1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime,” “1.3 million women are physically assaulted each year in the US,” and “every 2 minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted” are all undeniable statistics, and need acknowledgement and continuing press coverage.
3. Contribute. We ought to give our time, thoughts, and even monetary donations to helping stop all forms of violence against women. Assistance is always needed, and there are many ways for us to get involved and support the cause.
4. Support Victims/Survivors. We can be there for those who have been victimized by domestic violence or sexual assault. This might mean driving someone to the hospital, accompanying a victim to court or the police station, or even just sitting and listening to the survivor.
5. Organize. As men, we can create or join a movement against DV.
For the rest of the top ten list, check out the original blog on The Feminist Wire