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From #MeToo to #IWillSpeakUp: A CALL TO MEN

August 02, 2018

In early 2018, RPA and A CALL TO MEN established a fiscal-sponsorship partnership wherein RPA serves as a professionally-managed home for the project. As part of this partnership, A CALL TO MEN gains 501(c)(3) charitable status and infrastructural support from RPA. This allows A CALL TO MEN to focus on advancing its programs and impact as it continues to grow rather than diverting attention on operational issues. This is especially important given the diverse array of support the organization has attracted from the New York Women’s Foundation, the NoVo Foundation, Harry’s, Verizon and Uber, among other private and public supporters. Below is more information about how A CALL TO MEN is working to educate and mobilize men to address sexual violence and harassment against women.

While the #MeToo movement that started in 2017 served as a wake-up call for many men on how often women are confronted with unwelcome sexual conduct, there are some who “got it” long before. Two of those men, Tony Porter and Ted Bunch, are the co-founders behind “A CALL TO MEN,” a Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors sponsored project that seeks to “help create a world where all men and boys are loving and respectful and all women and girls are valued and safe.”

Co-founder Ted Bunch at Upfront Summit in 2018

Born out of the battered women’s movement three decades ago, A CALL TO MEN first sought to raise awareness of the importance of bystander intervention. Bunch and Porter recognized that men are often socialized to devalue women in our society, to treat them as objects and to view them as property of men. They wanted to change this paradigm and give well-meaning men tools to address gender-based social ills.

A CALL TO MEN seeks to create a world where “all men and boys are loving and respectful and all women and girls are valued and safe.”

Leveraging their seven core staff members and sixteen trainers, A CALL TO MEN hosts workshops and multi-day trainings, leads programs and conducts sessions at hundreds of engagements annually. One specific example is #LiveRespect on Campus, a movement for college students to create a campus culture of respect for all. Another is The Move to End Violence program, launched in 2010 in collaboration with the NoVo Foundation to support leaders implementing strategies to end violence against girls and women.

More recently during the #MeToo era, the project has come to recognize that it should not only “call men out,” as accountability is an important part of this process, but it should also “call men in,” inviting them to become part of the solution to end widespread violence and discrimination against all women and girls. In the immediate aftermath of #MeToo, A CALL TO MEN launched the #IWillSpeakUp campaign in collaboration with Joyful Heart Foundation. The campaign implores men to speak up and support survivors of sexual assault, abuse and harassment. As part of its reasoning, Bunch stated, “Many men haven’t felt this is their problem because they don’t see themselves as the bad guy, but what they don’t understand is that even though most of us are not abusive, we are silent. And that makes us a bad guy.” Through education, proactive support, and calls to action, A CALL TO MEN is seeking to end that silence.

Toward a New Normal

Over the past 15 years, A CALL TO MEN has collaborated with professional sports organizations including National Football League, the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer and the National Hockey League, as well as public institutions such as the U.S. Military, Department of Justice and the United Nations. In these spaces and others, Porter discusses the concept of the “Man Box.” This construct, which he explores further in a TED Talk, outlines the societal and cultural expectations of what a man is “supposed to” be and believe. For instance, men are supposed to be simultaneously powerful and dominating, fearless and in control, strong and emotionless. They are also supposed to be successful – in the workplace, at home, or on the playing field. Instead of staying in the confines of the box, Porter encourages men to examine and break free of these perceptions. He firmly believes that by breaking free, men can redefine what it means to be a man and thereby reduce the objectification of women and girls. The project believes that ending violence against all women and girls cannot be separated from the freedom, safety and wellbeing of all communities. Therefore, this redefinition can help create positive social change for all of society.

Amid the historic shifts in narratives and public policies resulting from the #MeToo movement, A CALL TO MEN, under RPA’s fiscal sponsorship, continues to work at the heart of the problem and advocate for a healthy and respectful manhood, free of the confines of the Man Box. RPA is excited to partner with A CALL TO MEN to collectively work toward a more compassionate and humane society.

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