If there is a current movement which stands the best chance to reduce gender based violence it is the real men campaign. We were debating this topic recently and I could not help but start to really consider this as a legitimate solution to our growing gender-related crimes and violations.
I came up with two main reason as to why this campaign stands the highest chance of becoming largely instrumental in the combating of gender-based violence. The first being that it is not a quick fix solution which attempts to superficially address the issue but rather a solution which deals with the root causes of the problem. The second reason is that this campaign has the ability alter and reverse existing stereotypes by using mankind’s appeal to stereotypes. This essentially benefits the three main players in the context of gender based violence namely the child, the adult male, and lastly the woman.
How does this deal with the root causes of gender-based violence?
In order to understand this reasoning, one must first understand why gender based violence is prevalent to begin with. It is the result of cultural and psychological elements which cannot be ignored. We have a culture whereby young men are raised to believe and taught to aspire to be manly. Equally harmful, is the psychological effect of constantly witnessing acts of violence against women in order to assert one’s manliness.
These are factors which don’t happen overnight but create serious detrimental effects after consistent long term exposure. It is for this same reason that the real men campaign can also only be extremely effective after a long period of excessive popularising. It will take the men of society to take the reigns and actively drive this cause to the point where society’s billboards, magazines, television and social media have come to embrace a zero tolerance stance towards gender based violence.
How will this actually reduce gender based violence?
Simple. This campaign will assist the people who are most affected by this in society.
1. The male child
Currently, we witness the previous generation struggling to reverse the psychology which cultivates inherited violent behaviour. With male figures who are most influential during a young man’s development, such as Superman, Batman and G. I. Joe whose manhood and strength comes from using violence and constantly displaying proving dominance it is easy for youngsters to get the wrong message about manhood.
By exposing children to a different kind of man from the one he sees at home or in Marvel’s comics, we are not only preventing them from falling into the vicious cycle of abuse, but we are also instilling a sense of accountability. Whereas we currently have men who pin their actions onto their own early exposure to gender-based violence, the real men campaign is eliminating this as an excuse. Future men will not be able to hide behind this because they will have grown up in a society which flooded them with the idea of a different kind of “real” man.
2. The adult male
Society is currently set up to cushion men. It is a society which has put too much stress on valuing the manliness of a man rather than his compassion.
It is a society where so much injustices are done to women because they are justified with…”a real man must…put her in her place, teach her a lesson, show her who’s boss, take ownership of the household…” And so many men buy into this because man wants to belong. We hate stereotypes but at the same time we want to fit into this criteria which charaterises a real man.
And this is why it is wiser to not do away with using this stereotype which defines a real man but to use it, redefine it and let man’s desire to fit the criteria be the incentive.
When this generation realises the new societal pressure to become a real man, man which a large portion of society supports it will have no choice but to comply. If this campaign is given the attention and support it deserves, abusive men will be less confident to beat a woman up because society frowns upon this and chances are hell be shunned or worse…he won’t be seen as a real man.
Incidentally, we must concede that by solving this problem with the current adult generation, we’re preventing this gruesome culture from seeping into the younger generations.
3. The woman
The real men campaign has most power in conservative communities where women feel they cannot speak up against abuse or even worse, where they can but are disregarded because they sound like angry, hormone-driven, rad-fems.
This campaign together with the feminist movement can revolutionise the culture of gender-related issues.
We must also acknowledge the significant contribution this can make to women who do not even know that they are abused. In large parts of the world, young women are still taught that abuse is their fault and that they should have not provoked the man, or that abuse is the burden a woman must bear- that it is the price one must pay in a marriage.
By having men step up to say,” This is not how women are to be treated. There are better men than this. Real men should not do this to you,” these social dynamics are changed. Women will feel that when they speak up, men will actually be listening.