Anti-violence advocate Tony Porter spoke in the James Union Building for a speech about the role of men in stopping violence on women Tuesday evening.
Porter is the founder of the Call to Men organization and has spoken to men in the NFL, NBA and universities across the country.
Approximately 15 percent of men in America have been violent towards women, Porter said. What he sees in this statistic is that the other eighty-five percent of “good men” have let it happen.
Porter pins the blame for men’s violent behavior on what he calls the “Man Box,” the emotionless tough-guy act that society portrays as “manliness,” perpetuated by stereotypes of strong, aggressive men in the media.
The “man box” is made-up of overly aggressive and sexist standards to which men are held. For Porter, these standards not only discriminate against women, but are “held together by the glue of homophobia.”
Porter said that the “man box” teaches men to distance themselves from the “experience of being a woman,” condemning emotions or behaviors thought to be weak or feminine.
“In order to successfully separate ourselves [from the experience of being a woman] we have to effectively lose interest,” Porter said. “That’s why an eighteen-year-old young man has only one interest in girls.”
The problem, Porter said, is that men do not know how to deal with their emotions because they are told that they are not allowed to address them.
“What men don’t understand is that anger comes from either fear or hurt,” Porter said. “Men see fear and pain as signs of weakness, even though they face these emotions just as much as women. Until we learn to address our emotions and that it is okay to do so, we will not be able to control them.”
Porter addressed other gender stereotypes, such as domestic roles, saying that they enforced “unintentionally” from a very young age. These predispositions can subtly lead men to feel a need to be dominant and women to be objectified.
“The objectification of women is just as harmful as the perceived ‘manliness’ men must live up to,” Porter said. “Before we can stop this behavior and create the world we want our daughters to grow-up in, we must ask ourselves if we are part of the problem, or part of the solution.”
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