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Be an Upstander
February 15, 2012
Be an Upstander

Posted by Casey Corcoran

Casey CorcoranMuch progress has been made in the movement to end violence against women, yet we still have a very long way to go. As a man, I feel a deep obligation and responsibility to take both a public and private stance on this issue and I feel fortunate to be part of an organization, Futures Without Violence, that has been working to end violence against women for over 30 years.

As men, we often have a front row seat to the words and actions that are used to demean and demoralize women. And so this is my challenge to men: no more excuses and no more waiting. No more excuses for all of the ways that men hurt, minimize, and marginalize the girls and women in our lives and in our communities. No more excuses for the comments and actions that we let pass without saying a word. No more waiting to create solutions and make changes to the way we think about and treat women that ultimately benefit everyone - both women and men.

In the movement to end violence against women, I want to challenge men to move from being bystanders to being upstanders - those who, instead of standing by watching the perpetration of violence and abuse, stand up and actively work to end the violence. Being an upstander is making a commitment to be proactive instead of reactive.

Men need to be upstanders in the words we use, the actions we take, the media we consume, and the thoughts we think. It is not enough to tell our fellow men and boys “don’t hit women.” Focusing only on violence that leaves bruises makes us lose sight of the scope of violence against women. The sexual, psychological, verbal, and financial violence that is perpetrated is often unseen but is always felt by those who experience it.

As a society we find many ways to box men into what we think they should be and how we think they should act. This is one reason why it is important to for men to take part in White Ribbon Day. In doing so, they are showing that they are making a commitment to end violence against women. However, it is what happens in the days, weeks, and months that follow White Ribbon Day that will truly make a difference. So many amazing men are a part of this movement, both publicly as advocates and privately in their own homes, whether they realize it or not. However, we need to encourage more men to be involved. The men out there who are committed to violence against women can not remain the silent majority any longer.

Come to White Ribbon Day this year. Take the pledge. Be part of the solution.

Read more from our White Ribbon Day blog series.

Casey Corcoran is a Program Director with the Children’s Program at Futures Without Violence. Before coming to Futures Without Violence he worked at the Boston Public Health Commission as the director of the Start Strong: Building Healthy Teen Relationship Initiative. For twelve years he has also worked with at-risk adults and youth in Boston around issues of dating violence, domestic violence and sexual health and healthy conflict resolution. Casey taught elementary school in Washington, D.C. as part of the Teach For America program. He received his M.A.T. from Trinity College and is a certified batterer/dating violence intervention counselor.

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