“Freedom cannot be achieved unless the women have been emancipated from all forms of oppression” –Nelson Mandela
This is the third post of a 7 part series in which I expand on some of my responses to questions from a recent news interview I had about my experiences with working to build more inclusive communities as a student at Oakland University and beyond.
What other social/humanitarian groups have you been involved with?
The Better Choices program and “Making Race Heard” are two additional programs that I have been most involved with in the past year.
Better Choices is a program that engages male perpetrators of domestic violence and helps them to be able to use productive, non-abusive ways to resolve conflicts both internal and external that can produce outcomes that are not harmful to themselves, their partners, and their relationships.
So far, my experience in the program has consisted of me engaging specifically with male perpetrators in heterosexual relationships. I came across the program through my former field supervisor who runs it and was also my co-facilitator in the dialogue program. He liked my facilitation style and offered me the opportunity to learn ways to engage this population, and I’ve learned a great deal in the last 10 months.
In engaging with the men who come to these sessions, we challenge patriarchy; an ideology that considers men as being inherently superior to women. We also address male privilege, a reinforcing by-product of patriarchy that gives men certain privileges that women do not have, simply because they are men. Unquestioned belief in these ideals can cause some men to be able to justify settling conflicts with their partners violently.
Some people might see the term “domestic violence” and may associate it specifically with violence in the physical sense. However, domestic violence is about power and control, and when considering patriarchy specifically, domestic violence serves to control women.
The power and control tactics which can be used to reach this end can be manifested physically through coercion, intimidation or physical violence, sexually through rape or other forms of sexual assault, emotionally through put downs, the silent treatment or withholding affection, and economically through a wide range of methods that can limit a woman’s ability to earn and use money.
If one believes that he is truly in a partnership and not a dictatorship, staying conscious of that belief when managing conflicts can help him to make better decisions.
Because patriarchy is so entrenched in many of the institutions that are held dear in society, the work can be difficult at times. However, what I like about the methods we used when I was involved with the program is that they encouraged participants to challenge their thought processes, because what we do is so closely linked to what we think and how we feel.
Working toward this end helps men to become more humane to women, and I carry these lessons with me and share them with others as I continue to develop myself.
Grace & Peace,
From Aspiring Humanitarian, Relando Thompkins, MSW
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