Anti-violence event introduces male-feminist roles

University of Southern California professor and chair of sociology and gender studies Mike Messner urged students to take responsibility to end gender-based violence at his anti-violence talk at Pierce College.

The Jessie-Bernard-award winner spoke to a room full of college students in the Great Hall on Wednesday, Oct. 29 about gender-based violence, and the need to have a male presence in feminist roles. (Is Jessie Bernard supposed to have hyphens?)

“I’m hoping my talk can act as a stimulator, and that it will amplify things happening on campus,” Messner said.

Messner centered his talk around a study he’s been conducting since the 1970’s alongside Max A. Greenberg and Tal Peretz called “Some Men,” which focuses on male allies of the feminist movement.

“Back then, rape was considered a joke. Domestic violence was a joke. Comedians would use it as their punch line,” Messner said.

Messner used a graph to illustrate gender-violence originally created by Greenberg, which contained information about what to do before violence occurs, after violence occurs, and how to treat the perpetrator as well as the recipients of violence.

“Self defense and risk-reduction may include trying to get more lighting on campus, training how to move your body, and staying strong and focused on your surroundings,” Messner said.

The demographic of men who consider themselves allies is also changing, Messner said.

“People who grow up in violent families often do act out, but under the right conditions they can turn one hundred eighty degrees and turn that into activism,” Messner said. “More and more, younger men of color are getting involved in anti-violence groups.”

Messner cites the example of one man in particular.

Messner helped 29-year-old Gilbert Salazar, whose stepdad was violent to his mother, become a manager at a rape prevention center in Monterey Bay.

“Mike doesn’t just talk the talk, he walks the walk,” said chair of Philosophy and Sociology, James McKeever. “He taught me about what it means to be a feminist.”

Messner said there are are four types of men in relation to violence against women – violent perpetrators, controllers, good-yet-silent, and allies.

“What differentiates the allies from the good men is that while good men do believe that full consent is always necessary and have adopted these values, when faced in situations dealing with groups of men, they remain silent,” Messner said. “The allies couple that with a sense of gender equality, and exhibit bystander behavior.”

The difference in the four categories of men are how they act as bystanders, Messner said.

“A good ally doesn’t just say ‘you’re so sexist.’ That isn’t effective at all,” Messner said, “A good ally pursues us to think of a woman as a human being and creates a conversation among men versus merely slapping people down.”

Students were then presented with the opportunity to ask questions and there were several attendees who were both receptive and thankful for the presentation.

College of the Canyons sociology major, Cassie Roberson was grateful for the workshop.

“This in general helps people understand why things happen and why they [men] do the things they do,” Roberson said. “That’s why this matters so much.”