Men’s V-Day workshop held at UMKC

Bradley Turner

Valentine’s Day is a day set aside for the celebration of love and companionship.

While there are many ways Valentine’s Day can be celebrated, there are women all over the world whose celebration of love doesn’t come so easily because of the domestic violence they endure.

In 1998, playwright and activist Eve Ensley, best known for her creation of “The Vagina Monologues,” established Valentine’s Day as V-Day.

“V-Day is a global activist movement to stop violence against women and girls,” vday.org reads.

Successfully spreading awareness to female audiences around the world through performances of The Vagina Monologues and other plays, V-Day began organizing V-Men workshops for male audiences.

Last Thursday, male students, faculty and staff attended the 2011 V-Men Workshop held in the Oak Street Residence Hall classroom.

Sponsored by the Women’s Center, the V-Men Workshop planned “to educate the public about the key roles men play in stopping violence against women and girls; to inspire and support grassroots anti-violence activism by boys and girls; to connect men with opportunities and resources to support women and girls; to promote a positive culture for boys and men, where women and girls are nurtured and protected,” said Robert Greim, the Manager of NCAA Compliance of the men’s basketball team, who led the presentation.

Greim, who was part of the first V-Men workshop in 2010, had the opportunity to give the presentation to the men’s basketball team before Thursday’s workshop.

The first step of the workshop was going around and telling who you were and why you came.

For some, it was simply curiousity as to what ‘V-Men’ stood for.

Greim then asked the audience what their first recollection of violence was in their life and how it affected their relationship with women.

As each person gave their testimony of experiencing violence at home or in the community, there was one common pattern: violence against women was an ongoing problem, be it sexual or physical abuse.

Even though many of the participants had encountered violence against women, it was hard for some men to intervene.

In some cases, men tried to intervene, but their attempts were simply useless.

Greim asked what the participants felt men needed to change in order for violence against women to end.

With societal expectations of what it means to be a man- being powerful, in control, emotionless and strong, it was understood that these qualities are encouraged in today’s society for men, but they don’t always apply to women.

Mark Matousek, author and V-Men advocate, began a column on the V-Day webpage that shares the testimonies of men, fathers, brothers, grandparents, uncles and sons who have experienced firsthand the violence women in their lives have faced and how men need to step up and change the story of women.

For women and girls 16–44 years old, violence is a major cause of death and disability.

Of the 10 selected risk factors facing girls and women in this age group, rape and domestic violence are more dangerous than cancer, motor vehicle accidents, war and malaria.

Studies also reveal increasing links between violence against women and HIV and AIDS.

One out of every three women is beaten or sexually abused in their lifetime.

One in five college women experiences sexual assault during their college years.

Approximately one in six women have been raped.

Approximately one in three adolescent girls in the U.S. is a victim of physical, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner.

Four million women and girls are trafficked annually.

In Africa and, in some cases, the Middle East, more than 130 million women have undergone female genital mutilation, and two million girls a year are at risk.

Violence against women and girls is not just a women’s issue.

Men commit 95 percent of violence against women.

Studies of domestic violence consistently have found violence occurs among all types of families, regardless of income, profession, region, ethnicity, educational level or race.

Boys who witness their fathers’ violence are 10 times more likely to engage in spousal abuse in later adulthood than boys from non-violent homes.

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