A Call to Men’s Fourth Annual Conference: Stand Up and Speak Out! To End Violence Against Women took place from May 21-22, 2009 in New York City. More than 200 people representing a diversity of backgrounds, participated in this gathering place for women and men in the movement to end violence against women. Conference speakers included such acclaimed national leaders as Etiony Aldarondo, Desireé Allen-Cruz, Dick Bathrick, Ulester Douglas, Joe Ehrmann, Eve Ensler, Nana Fosu-Randall, Rus Ervin Funk, David J.H. Garvin, Jackson Katz, Paul Kivel and Tonya Lovelace.

A glimpse into some of the powerful speakers at the conference…

Paul Kivel enlightened the conference participants by globalizing men’s violence and linking it to larger social issues like militarization, global warming and the current economic crisis. He asked attendees to seriously consider what they stand for and who they stand with. He asserted that being an ally is a practice, not an identity, and is constantly evolving in ways where allies can use their access and resources to further the struggle. He further charged that “accountability” is mere rhetoric and not practice. Accountability to women, he stated, entails being engaged in an on-going conversation with women doing frontline work. He challenged the men in the room to consider these issues as they move forward with their work to end violence against women. He further stated that the Man Box works against being a good ally as it trains men to regulate society as soldiers, deans, disciplinarian fathers, police officers and immigration officials, which in turn furthers inequality. Homophobia, he stated, is the way that people police each other and should be considered the walls of the Man Box. Thus, if homophobia is not eradicated, violence will prevail.

Eve Ensler spoke about violence against women from a global perspective. As the author of the Vagina Monologues she disclosed that many people throughout the world reach out to her to share their stories of gender violence. She described her work in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and shared information about the extreme violence against women that is occurring in that region. Over 250,000 Congolese women and girls have been raped, often killed as a result of their injuries due to the ongoing warfare and violence in the region. She asked us to take action, for, as she asserted, “if violence against women can be eradicated in the Congo it can be eradiated anywhere.” She described, in great detail, some of the stories she had heard about the violence that is occurring in that region, some which came from the first hand accounts of Dr. Denis Mukwege, an OBGYN from the region who has risked his life to continue to help the women and girls affected by the violence.

To read Eve Ensler’s article about violence against women in Congo Click Here
For More Information on Eve Ensler’s campaign to end violence in the Congo Click Here

A screening of the documentary Private Violence, a film by Kit Gruelle and Cynthia Hill, also took place during the conference. The film seeks to document the domestic violence movement in a way that is accountable to roots of the movement and to the current manifestation of the movement. It is being created by women who are part of the movement and who want to see a shift in the way that domestic violence and the movement as a whole are portrayed by popular media. The filmmakers are seeking guidance from anti-violence advocates to frame their work.

Through inspirational events such as these, the conference helped to further understanding of male violence and what groups around the nation and around the world are doing to prevent this violence from continuing. In doing so, it reinvigorated people’s commitment to the work.