Next month, Blackburn Center will be hosting its signature event, Walk a Mile in Her Shoes at St. Clair Park in Greensburg. As with our previous Walks, the cornerstone of this event will be the Pledge to End Gender Violence. This pledge was inspired by Jackson Katz’s “10 Things Men Can Do to Prevent Gender Violence,” and highlights the important role of men in our organization’s work.
Although domestic and sexual violence disproportionately impacts women, it is not a “women’s problem.” We strongly believe in the need for both men and women to work together to truly make a change in our society so that we can end gender violence once and for all. This is just one part of our primary prevention strategies: asking men to play an active role in making a cultural change so that domestic and sexual violence are no longer the norm.
In 2015, ten men stood in front of an audience of over 1,000 people, read aloud a pledge point, and explained how they would put these pledge points into action over the coming year. This year, we will ask all participants – men, women, teens and children – to take the pledge together, in what we hope will be a community-wide commitment to ending gender violence. When you take the pledge, you are agreeing to:
1. Approach gender violence as a MEN’S issue involving men of all ages, socioeconomic, racial and ethnic backgrounds.
2. Not look the other way if another man is abusing his partner or is disrespectful or abusive to women and girls in general. I will urge him to seek help. If I am not sure what to say, I will consult a friend, parent, professor or counselor. I WILL NOT REMAIN SILENT.
3. Have the courage to look inward. I will question my own attitudes and try hard to understand how my own attitudes and actions might inadvertently perpetrate sexism and violence and work hard toward changing them.
4. Gently ask if I can help if I think that a woman close to me is being abused or has been sexually assaulted.
5. Seek professional help NOW if I am or have ever been emotionally, psychologically, physically or sexually abusive to women.
6. Be an ally to women who are working to end all forms of gender violence.
7. Recognize and speak out against homophobia. Discrimination and violence against lesbians and gays are wrong in and of themselves. This abuse has direct links to sexism.
8. Educate myself and others about gender inequality, the root causes of gender violence and how larger social forces affect the conflicts between individual men and women.
9. Protest sexism in the media. I will refuse to purchase magazines, films or music that portray women in a sexually degrading or abusive manner.
10. Mentor and teach young boys about how to be men in ways that don’t involve degrading or abusing girls and women. I will lead by example.
We look forward to a record number of walkers at this year’s Walk A Mile In Her Shoes event (tickets are available ahead of the Walk, OR you can register at the event that morning!). We hope that you come ready not just to walk a mile — but to promise to make a real change in our culture!