So What If You Are A Man, You Are Still Important to the Women’s Center

 “So why is there only a women’s center and not a men’s center?” 

“How can a man benefit from a women’s center?”  

These are just a couple questions the Women’s Center staff at UMKC receives from men who walk into our office.  We are constantly asked these questions because there seems to be a perception that men are not welcome in the Women’s Center or that the programs and services that we offer don’t have anything to do with them.   Could it be the name “Women’s Center” that deters men, or is it, perhaps, a certain chauvinism that makes men feel that they don’t need to be concerned about woman’s issues?

Here at the UMKC Women’s Center, our mission is to advocate, educate and provide support services for the advancement of women’s equity on campus and within the community at large.  Although our primary concern focuses on women’s issues and the ongoing struggle for women’s equality, the center is also a place for advocacy, education, and support for both men and women who want to better understand gender issues. 

Whether men know it or not, they can be a great asset to raising awareness for ongoing issues such as sexism, sexual assault, domestic violence, and other inequalities women endure on a daily basis.  Men too can have the power to help put an end to these issues. Besides being educated about issues like sexual assault, men can also take part in our events such as “Walk A Mile In Her Shoes”, or “Take Back the Night”, which are two of our events aimed at ending sexual and domestic violence. 

So men, we do need your presence in the Women’s Center.  Women’s issues do impact you.  Think about it this way when you are questioning the importance of such a place to you: any of these issues like dating violence, could affect your spouse, girlfriend, mother, sister, niece, aunt, or cousin whom you love.  Each and every day these women you care about are struggling to make their presence more prevalent in society, to gain equality, and to feel safe.  With your help and your knowledge, there is another voice that has to be heard, and not just any voice, but the voice of a man who agrees with women’s issues and women’s equality.  If men continue to ignore such problems, then women will continue to face tribulations and endure not being heard by society.  Men, we need you to continue to raise more awareness about women’s issues. After all, women will always be a part of your life.

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4 Comments

  1. Lone Wolf 54
    Posted May 15, 2010 at 2:30 am | Permalink | Reply

    As the father of a daughter, I am 100% supportive of the fact that sexual assault is something that should not occur under any circumstances.

    The one area that many women seem to conveniently overlook is that biological studies have shown that the most basic way men get “aroused” and become sexually attracted to women is through visual stimulation.

    While nothing justifies sexual assault, there are many instances where women should be charged with indecent exposure. For example: Wearing a bikini on the beach is a natural situation where women wearing scantily clad bathing suits may be “racy”, but still appropriate. However, a woman wearing that same scantily clad bathing suit in a mall or at a grocery store is inappropriate.

    One way to dramatically reduce sexual attention in inappropriate environments is for women to dress more conservatively in those environments. I’m not talking about burqas and excessive clothing covering every inch of the body; I’m talking about “dressing appropriately” for the theater you are going to.

    • Jim Doyle
      Posted May 17, 2010 at 10:39 am | Permalink | Reply

      What you wrote may or may not be true; but it is not relevant to this topic. While there may be many causes to a sexual assault, the only one that will affect the system every time relates to the sexual assaulter. Men need to respect women and see them as people not play things – period. The best way for this condition to defuse in our community remains to make sexual assault (whatever the causes of it) an unacceptable behavior. We must insist on a zero tolerance for this behavior, not put the responsibility for sexual assault on the victim.

    • Mason
      Posted May 17, 2010 at 4:45 pm | Permalink | Reply

      This seems to be a common thought among men.

      I am here to state, (as a man working in the field of violence prevention), that we need to work on dispelling all forms of victim blaming. It happens in Domestic Violence and it happens in Sexual Violence. The above statement suggests that men are incapable of self-control. I think most men know that to force sex upon a women is an act of violence and never acceptable…a crime. We, men, are reasonable and intelligent and know the difference between right and wrong. We are not prisoner to our emotions/hormones. I speak to young men all of the time about alternatives to violence and self-control. Some have anger control issues and still they learn to control their behavior in an environment wherein they often do NOT have control of their surroundings.

      The same applies to the hormones that are a part of human DNA. To suggest that women should dress appropriately to reduce sexual violence is victim blaming. Men are still responsible for their actions…

      One of the most difficult concepts to teach is this idea of “if someone disrespects me… do I have to RIGHT to disrespect them?” It sounds like this blog entry is referring to a ‘disrespectful’ dressing of women… never would it be permissible to act in violence based on your disagreement (thus arousal) because of her clothing.

      If someone disrespects me… I then have to choose to act respectfully or choose an alternative, such as violence.

      Men have an important ‘voice’ in this area of violence prevention.

      • Steph H.
        Posted July 14, 2010 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

        I agree with Mason; too often, when women attempt to seek justice for sexual violence crimes that a man has committed against them, the women are ruthlessly cross-examined. Their identity, their clothes, where they were there and why, their sexual past, all these and more are brought to the stand as if any of these can justify the perpetrator’s actions. But this serves to silence the victim, and sometimes the trauma a woman experiences trying to bring such a case to court is equivalent or more than the trauma of the actual assault. Many women choose not to report sexual assault cases because of this. It might be easy to say, “but they SHOULD, because otherwise the assaulter will go free!” but women do not make these choices idly. Sometimes, because of how traumatic trying to take the case to court would be, it is the best choice for them at that time to NOT report it, to NOT relive the event and more, to NOT be torn down again and again in ways that might make them question their very selves in ways they would have never imagined – all while still trying to recover from the initial assault.

        Focusing on how women dress as a way to prevent sexual assault does indeed assume that men are not able to control themselves, which I think does men a disservice. But it also places the responsibility of assault on the women, not the men who assault women. It serves a role in victim-blaming, because women are seen as responsible for how they dressed, and if a man assaulted them, surely they were doing something wrong. The man’s responsibility is taken away, and the blame is placed squarely on her shoulders.

        This also serves to ignore the reality of who gets assaulted. Women of all ages, of all dress, are assaulted, even the ones who wear baggy clothes or the ones who cover every piece of their skin. And the people who assault them are more likely to be someone they know than a random stranger on the street. But focusing on how women dress takes away from emphasizing this reality, and it won’t make men stop assaulting women.

        This is a fairly old article, but it details some of the statistics that support my claim: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7514567.stm

        It may be on sexual harassment in Egypt, but you will find that America is not so different.

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