L-R: Porter, Wood, and Matsushita
Catawba College students were participants in a conversation about the collective socialization of men when they attended a forum entitled “Healthy Environment, Healthy Relationships” on campus Thursday, August 31. They gathered in Keppel Auditorium and were lead through the conversation by Tony Porter, an author, educator and activist who works to advance social justice issues as chief executive officer of A Call To Men™, and Jeff Matsushita, a trainer for A CALL TO MEN.
A series of statements were shared and the students were asked whether or not they agreed or disagreed with the statements, including these:
- If a child witnesses domestic violence, he or she will repeat the behavior.
- Domestic violence is just physical violence.
- Sexual assault is just rape.
- If a friend is being violent in his relationship that is HIS business, not mine.
As students, male and female, responded with their agreement or disagreement, those gathered could be seen nodding or shaking their heads expressing their own opinions.
Porter noted that it is not the majority of men who perpetuate the violence against women, but rather a minority. He emphasized his point with these statistics:
- 1/3 of all female homicides are a result of sexual and domestic violence;
- 7 out of 10 murdered women were killed during or after separating from their partner; and,
- 1 out of 5 women between the ages of 16 and 24 will be sexually assaulted.
Porter said that while the majority of men are not responsible for the violence, they remain silent on the issue and do not have the conversations that could affect change in society and in social norms.
Porter and Matsushita talked about “The Man Box” and the expectations the world has of men, such as “Big boys don’t cry.” “Be Strong.” “Man up.” Strength in men is valued, but empathy and emotion is typically not, they said.
The two spoke about the objectification of women in the media, in song lyrics, even in the pay disparity most females in the workplace experience in contrast to their male counterparts. All of these things contribute to the societal perception of women as “less than” men. The speakers urged the students to have media awareness and a realization of the true message behind what’s being shown, sung, and said.
“We want you as men to begin developing a voice,” Matsushita said, “about how to make the change in the next generation. Start with the people who love you and trust you. Speak up, learn more, create space, join or create, and find a way to use your influence.”
Coordinated by Catawba’s Title IX Administrator and Associate Professor of Psychology, Dr. Erin Wood, in collaboration with First Year Seminar faculty, Student and Academic Affairs, Athletics, the Honors Program, the Psychology Department and others, the forum’s goal, according to Wood, was to elevate on-campus discussion and learning about domestic and sexual violence.
Porter is internationally recognized for his efforts to prevent violence against women while promoting healthy, respectful manhood. He is an advisor to the National Football League, National Basketball Association, National Hockey League and Major League Baseball, providing policy consultation, working with player engagement, and facilitating violence prevention and healthy manhood training.
An international lecturer for the U.S. State Department, Porter has been a guest presenter in the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, and has worked with the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis. He has served as a script consultant for the Emmy Award-winning television series, “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.” He is the author of “Breaking Out of the Man Box” and “NFL Dads: Dedicated to Daughters.”
Matsushita is also a Program Specialist at the Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence and this allows him the privilege to travel, learn, and be part of the movement to end violence against women, girls and gender non-conforming community members. With A Call To Men™, he has worked nationally providing instruction on healthy, respectful manhood with high schools and colleges, as well as the National Football League.