Kasandra Perkins’ Murder – Some Things Keeping Three Guys Up at Night

Jovan Belcher‘s murder of Kasandra Perkins should be keeping us up at night. Families, communities, football fans, men – we all have reasons to be upset by this murder.

For us three guys, there are some specific things keeping us lying awake these past few nights.nfl DV

1.  Almost nobody in the mainstream media is saying it. But for those of us who do this work, the Belcher case sounds like domestic violence. A lot. And domestic violence (DV) happens. A lot. Most men reading this know someone who has been affected by it. Perhaps we witnessed it ourselves. The majority of DV is never reported. And while it can be committed by anyone against anyone, 1 out of 4 women in the US are abused by men in their lifetime[1]. On average, three times a day in the U.S. a man kills his female partner or ex-partner.[2]. It happens. A lot. While this case is tragic and shocking, it is not by any means uncommon. So, why are we pretending this case is something else? Why are we so afraid to confront the reality that we all know?

The reality of domestic violence in the US goes far beyond this small paragraph. It has kept us up many nights. But it’s not the reason we’re writing this today.

2.  Media coverage of domestic violence tends to suck. Big time. When DV does make headlines, it is often grossly distorted to the point of doing more harm than good. Predictably, we are seeing: victim blaming, minimization, denial or distortion of the “facts”. And as with other celebrities and athletes of color – racism, mostly coded.  Some examples of all too common headlines and (lack of) discussion about domestic violence:

Two examples that we like a whole lot more:

Members of the media need to be held accountable when they perpetuate victim-blaming myths. This has also kept us up many nights. But the reason we’re writing this today-the reason we’ve been up nights these past few days – is….

3.  Domestic violence is also a MEN’S ISSUE.  Belcher’s case shows us this, dramatically and poignantly. It is a men’s issue because it affects our lives, all of us, whether we are aware of it or not. And usually we are very aware. But we don’t admit it.

We need to ask ourselves:

How are we as men – and the men in Jovan’s life – working to ensure that this never happens again?

Are we men challenging those (news outlets, our families, even our fantasy football leagues) who blame victims of domestic and sexual violence for someone else’s choice to control, abuse, and even murder?

Are we as men okay with men committing violence against women? If not, what are we doing to stop it?

This, THIS is what is keeping us up at night.

Men’s silence. Our own deafening silence.

Our silence in the face of this epidemic of violence is intolerable. How dare we men turn a blind eye when our brothers, fathers, uncles, co-workers and teammates commit violence against the women in our lives? Against women we have never met?

How dare we men stay silent? Women have been speaking, yelling, begging, arguing for decades (centuries!) about domestic violence. Women have been educating us about it, and waiting for us to stand with them as allies – waiting for us to finally end our silence.

And where are we? It is time for us as men to PUT UP OR SHUT UP. Either we start speaking out en-masse against men’s violence, or admit publicly that it isn’t a priority for us. That we actually don’t care about the consequences of violence against women.

But silence is not acceptable anymore. It can’t be. Too many women (along with a growing number of men) have worked too hard for too long. Domestic violence is too well known. Too many are injured and dying for us to stay silent anymore. There are no excuses left. Really, there never were.

If this confuses you, inspires you, angers you, just plain affects you in any way then join us at Masculinity U…or Joe Erhmann – Coach For America, or the National Organization for Men Against Sexism, or Men Can Stop Rape, or A Call to Men, or Men Stopping Violence, or the White Ribbon Campaign, or Coaching Boys Into Men, or Promundo, or the dozens of other men’s and women’s organizations doing the work we should be doing.

In the wake of Jovan Belcher’s actions, support the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, or the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, or the Rose Brooks Center, or the Kansas City Anti-Violence Project, or your local domestic violence organization. Donate goods to them, contribute money, volunteer for them – call them and see what they need. Write to Congress – urge them to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act before it expires at the end of the month.

Or start your own damn group.

And share this with the men in your life.

Sincerely and in brotherhood,

Joe Samalin, Sacchi Patel, and Ben Atherton-Zeman


[1]Tjaden, Patricia & Thoennes, Nancy. National Institute of Justice and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, “Extent, Nature and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey,” (2000).
[2] Bureau of Justice Statistics Crime Data Brief, Intimate Partner Violence, 1993-2001, February 2003. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Intimate Partner Violence in the U.S. 1993-2004, 2006.

Still think rape jokes are funny?

*Trigger Warning*  Please reblog and share 

Guest post by Sister Storm


The twitter and blog world is buzzing right now with the story of how a “comedian” made a joke about an audience member being gang raped because she did not find his previous rape joke funny and (rightly so) voiced her opinion on it.  I am inviting anyone who thinks rape jokes are funny to read this and see if they still think jokes about sexual abuse and assault are so hilarious.

The reason I am doing this is because I am getting increasingly sick of telling people I hear making flippant comments and jokes about rape that IT ISN’T FUNNY, so I am hoping that visually I may be able to educate them as my words and clearly the words of others seem to fall on deaf and ignorant ears.

Have you ever seen someone a few minutes or hours after they have been brutally raped?

Have you seen the look in their eyes as they desperately try to escape the thoughts of what has just happened going around and around in their head?

Have you ever seen their torn clothes, dried blood, cuts, bumps, bruises and defense marks they received for putting up a fight?

Have you ever had to tell someone who has just been raped that they are safe now and the people around them are just trying to help them?

Have you ever tried to comfort someone who has been so badly assaulted that they cower and flinch at your touch?

Have you ever helped someone rebuild their life and trust in the human race after they have been so horribly violated?

Have you ever watched the tears stream down someone’s face as they recount every little detail of their ordeal to a police officer or doctor carrying out their medical examination?

Have you ever had to sit up with someone all night because they were too afraid to go to sleep or be alone?

Have you ever had a conversation with a survivor of rape or sexual assault to try and educate yourself and understand what they have to go through?

If you have never had to do any of those things then you are very lucky.  There are just two more questions I want to ask you…

How would you feel if the person I was just talking about who was viciously beaten, repeatedly raped and gone through utter hell was your mother, grandmother, sister, girlfriend, wife, cousin, daughter or close friend and you had to look them in the eye?

Do you still think rape jokes are funny now?

Live, laugh, love and educate,

Sister Storm

Here’s to the male feminists!

—Guest Post by Sister Storm

As a woman feminism is something that is very close to my heart, for obvious reasons.  It is in my best interests to want better and equality for my gender.  Of course there are many negative connotations associated with feminism that I regularly have to combat from both men and women.  I don’t hate men, I don’t want to be a man, I don’t think I am better than men; we are equal and should be treated as such in every aspect of our lives.  So with the flak I get for refusing to have my beliefs silenced and being a big scary butch man hating bitch I can only imagine the kind of shit some male feminists can get for willingly being affiliated with such a dirty word and ridiculous notion.

It is hard being a woman in the 21st century but it is equally hard to be a man, not just any kind of man though, it is damn hard to be a decent man in this day and age.  To not be ‘one of the boys’ or buy into the vile and ever increasing ‘lad culture’ phenomenon, to not laugh at rape jokes when a room erupts at the hilarity of it, to think it is completely unacceptable to follow, touch, grope, scream at, perv on or ‘compliment’ a woman who is going about her business, to voice their opinion on equality and how highly they value women.

Thankfully there are more and more men out there in the world (or as I also like to call them REAL MEN) who are perfectly willing to be considered feminists, who realize the importance of equality and are not afraid to voice their opinions on the matter and other important issues like trying to end violence against women.

So instead of bashing the arrogant, slimy, ignorant, misogynistic, uneducated ‘men’ that are crawling all over place, who don’t value or deserve to have decent women in their lives how about we give a big three cheers to the awesome men out there who are on the front line too.  These men should be celebrated and considered role models to all the confused kids out there who get pulled into a world of misogyny, not knowing their own self worth and being afraid to speak their minds.  More men like these are needed in the world, so here’s to them!

Live, laugh, love,

Sister Storm.

Boyz II Abusers

Boys who witness domestic violence are twice as likely to abuse their own partners and children when they become adults

-Strauss, Gelles, and Smith, “Physical Violence in American Families: Risk Factors and Adaptations to Violence” in 8,145 Families. Transaction Publishers (1990).

“What a Beautiful Day”: How We Value the Feminine

Its 65 degrees and Sunny today I found myself about to Tweet “What a Beautiful Day” or “What a Gorgeous Day” and I took a second to think about what that might mean.

Would it ever be appropriate to say “What a Handsome Day”?  Nope. So what is it about certain aspects of life that we attribute to the feminine?

My thoughts: Let’s take a look at how we describe things that “look good”;  Cars, Art, Weather, etc.

“That’s a gorgeous picture”

“My new Mustang is ‘My Baby’. She’s Beautiful”

These statements draw value solely at aesthetics; the same value we place on women. We’ve defined women to only be “worth something” is they look “good”. Or if they are “beautiful” or gorgeous”.

Further, these are very passive qualities… not to mention marinated in corrupt yet influential capitalism. Yet isn’t this the way women have been taught to be (the messages we’ve sent them)?

Be Passive, Silent, & Beautiful.

Its interesting just how deep-rooted our societies sexism (and belief system) is.

——

Sacchi Patel.  March 2012.

Follow SacchiFollow Me

Welcome to MasculinityU!

In honor of the New Year and our many new followers and supporters, we thought it might be a good idea to re-post some of our earliest posts! –Here is one the the first pieces, describing our vision of MasculinityU–

What does it mean to be a man? In today’s culture it means demeaning women. It means breaking down our brothers instead of building them up. It means status symbols: cars owned, women slept with, money in the bank. It means showing no weakness, protecting your pride, and “manning up” when times get hard. It means saying “no homo” after every compliment, lest people think you’re gay. It means calling men who are in touch with their emotional side “b—hes” or “p*$$**s”. It means never stepping out of the box society made for us and shoving people back in if they do anything to question societal norms.

It means we have a problem.

We can choose to stay with the status quo. We can choose to refuse to grow and change. We can decide that our image is worth more than our soul. We can do all of that OR we can start making the tough choices. We can challenge societal norms. We can evade the path of least resistance. We can temporarily sacrifice our image to make a permanent change in society.

MasculinityU isn’t the end-all, be-all solution. We don’t even seek to be the destination. Rather we hope to guide a generation of men as they start to rethink masculinity and make their own informed decisions. We hope to challenge our brothers to think about the meaning behind their words and the motivations behind their actions.

As we travel the country, we will document it here. We will also use this space to post commentary on the news of the day. This will be a place to foster conversation about these important issues and we encourage you to comment and send the site to your friends.

We named this initiative MasculinityU because we want it to be about constantly teaching and always learning. We must never stop educating ourselves and learning from the experiences of others, especially women. They’ve been talking to us for years and years and we’ve failed to listen to their lived experiences. It’s time for that to change.

Thank you for joining us as we set out on this journey.

Much love,

Marc Peters and Sacchi Patel
MasculinityU Co-Founders

Now Trending: #itaintrapeif

As you may have seen, the hashtag #itaintrapeif (it ain’t rape if) trending on Twitter recently.

As men, we have a responsibility to not only identify this as an injustice, but we must also speak out and get pro-active.  We know that rape impacts all of us whether its directly or indirectly.

So perhaps we can counter this “trending topic” by starting our own. Let’s post these as our twitter hashtags and Facebook status updates. We can also be ready to use these and spring into action when another pro-rape topic trends.

Here are some suggestions:

#MenVsRapeCulture

#itaintloveif

#rapeculture

#rapeisntajoke

i.e. #itaintlove if you get her drunk to have sex

1 in 4 women are the victims/survivors of attempted or completed rape. Speak out. #rapeisntajoke

When she says “no”, I didn’t take that as “keep trying”. #MenVsRapeCulture

When we take part in any activism, we always need to keep in mind how we’re saying things and what they might mean coming from men. (remember, we hold societal power over women and the things we say or do may have a great deal of weight behind them… In other words – remember not to be overbearing, more patriarchal, or hyper-masculine when trying to speak out.) Also, remember – try to keep it as positive as possible!  We need a nice balance of a healthy display of activism, while being radical, and not disrespectful. — Easier said than done = )

Let’s make this trend!

-SP

Sacchi Patel, Co-Founder MasculinityU

We Can All Take a Page out of Joe Paterno’s Book….and burn it.

We Can All Take a Page out of Joe Paterno’s Book….and burn it.

According to Yahoo! News, Penn State University Students responded very maturely to the firing of Joe Paterno by shouting:

“We want JoePa,” “One more game” and “F*** the media!,” rioting students flipped over a television van, knocked a lamppost onto a car, threw toilet tissue and rocks at police and set off fireworks.

The students who took part in this campus-wide riot are making their stance clear: We care much more about winning football games than the well-being of our fellow students. This is a depressingly too common stance when it comes to any sexual abuse or rape case in our society. If the “accused” also known as the abuser or rapist has any value (as assigned by our white, middle-upper class, male, ableist, hetero-normative – dominated society) like clockwork, a set of dynamics take place without fail. In this case it is a world-renowned football coach. For each win he has under his belt, die-hard fans are willing to make excuse his actions.
Assistant coach Jerry Sandusky has been charged with abusing at least 8 boys over a span of 15 years. Additionally Athletic director Tim Curley and Vice President for Finance Gary Schultz were charged with not reporting the sexual abuse and of course lying under oath.
The background of the case is that a graduate assistant saw Sandusky sexually assaulting a boy in a locker room shower in the Penn State football department. He then told Paterno what he saw, and Paterno alerted Curley and Shultz. None of the men reported anything.

Having experience working directly in the domestic violence and sexual assault professional realms, the Clery Act is something that I’m very familiar with – it is also something that ALL colleges and universities should also be very familiar with. The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act requires colleges to report and disclose this type of sexual abuse (and other criminal offenses) on campus. In other words, Sandusky, Curley, Schultz, and Paterno are all mandated reporters and they clearly did not say a word.

There is a saying that speaks to there being “two types of bad people…people who do bad things, and people who see bad things happen and don’t say anything.” So if Paterno knew about Sandusky’s abuse, does he not have a moral obligation to himself, the victims/survivors, and the entire PSU campus to do something?
We will never make progress in our society if we don’t give up this pathetic notion of what we have labeled “the innocent bystander”. Somehow we are all innocent in all the cases that we may witness or know about. Perhaps this is that precise attitude that is keeping us from moving forward. Rather than ever accept being an “innocent bystander” how about we strive to be empowered bystanders and arm ourselves with tools to act when we see or hear out potentially harmful situations?
Paterno told the press:

“I am disappointed with the board of trustees’ decision, but I have to accept it,” he said in a statement. “A tragedy occurred, and we all have to have patience to let the legal process proceed.

How about you listen to your [now former] PSU Quaterback Matt McGloin, [now former] coach?
McGloin tweeted Thursday:

“This is a tough time But the outrage we are feeling now is nothing compared to what the victims are going through.keep them in our prayers.”

Sacchi Patel, M.S. November, 2011
Co-Founder MasculinityU

For more information about bystander intervention work, please contact us at MasculinityU and we can provide you with national organizations and already established programs.
For this information and all other feedback on this blog please e-mail me at Sacchi@MasculinityU.com

Joining the Anti-violence Movement? Not So Fast, Bro. –What to Avoid (Tip #1)

Men, here is one of several elements to avoid as we begin to join the gender equality movement:

TIP# 1 [Continuing to] Take up too Much “Space”

Historically, men take up too much space in the public realm.  Yes. this can certainly mean physical space, but it especially applies to “whose voice is being heard?” Or “Who matters?”.  Picture the following scenario: A well intentioned man joins a Women & Gender Studies course. Time after time, he is constantly speaking. He doesn’t even have to embody the characteristics of a stereotypically defensive and questioning man in a WGS course. The content to his comments could be exactly “on point”. None-the-less, nine times out of ten, he is speaking.  Sounds pretty good huh? He’s a man willingly taking a Women & Gender Studies course who is also actively participating. How could this possibly be a bad thing?
Well, if he is constantly speaking, that means there is a huge population of people who aren;t talking. Thus they are being silenced. That group of people are women and yes, once again, even in a WGS course, they are being silenced by a man. Further, this also perpetuates the control men have on everything from everyday conversations to important laws being passed.  I argue that this type of silencing (seemingly unintentional and benevolent) may actually be worse that overt misogyny.  Why? Because this action is subject to going undetected and men go not being held accountable for these actions.
Now picture this scenario: Its the early 1900’s and a Heterosexual couple is starting their morning. The man is putting on his suit while his wife is on the verge of having breakfast done for him. He reads the paper and shouts out  a couple headlines and asks,”can you believe that?”….without waiting for any response from his partner and he gets up as he completes the meal promoting the women to get up and kiss him while wishing him a great day. He drives the one car that the family owns to work, where he meets several other men. They all discuss current news, work, trade jokes, talk about women, and make important discussions that impact their entire community.  He returns home to a prepared meal, and is asked how his day was. After sharing what he did, they go to bed and do it all over again. How many times did this women talk or interact with anyone in her day? (maybe 2 lines?) — This is one place it began. Men have been taught to control everything and experience everything by being in the public sphere.  This gives them so much more to talk about naturally and if we juxtapose this with his socialization, its no wonder men easily take over in public spheres currently.
So men who are getting involved in the gender equality movement: You have to work extra hard to be sure you are not perpetuating this problematic and ultimately patronizing behavior.
If men continue to talk over women, constantly (solely) share their opinions in this space, and make decisions that are based off their thoughts, we may actually do more damage than good in the gender equality movement.
Warning: This does not mean that we as good allies should be silent in the field either. A healthily balance of sharing our opinions when necessary while being sure to actually listen to women’s’ thoughts is ideal.
–Stayed tuned for more “tips” for men entering violence prevention work, coming up right here at MasculinityU. —
Sacchi Patel, M.S.    Co-Founder MasculinityU.   September 2011.