The mission of the Men's Resource Center for Change is to support men, challenge men's violence, and develop men's leadership in ending oppression in our lives, our families, and our communities.

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Web Editorial - October 2004

Why I Walk

By Michael Dover
MRC Co-Director

On Wednesday, October 6, I put foot to pavement for a four-day, 40-mile walk from Springfield to Greenfield, Massachusetts: our second annual Men's Walk to End Abuse. We walked through three counties and 11 towns with our message that stopping domestic violence is men's work. Here at the MRC we believe men need to take responsibility for putting an end to men's violence--against women, against children, against each other. And we believe in supporting each other in redefining masculinity to reject violence as an unacceptable expression of what it means to be a man.

We walked, too, to raise money for our Men Overcoming Violence (MOVE) program, which helps men who have been abusive learn to change their destructive behavior. MOVE has always operated on the premise that men can change, and we have the record to prove it. Like a lot of important social programs, MOVE took a hit last year when the state budget was slashed, and we began the Men's Walk as one way to replace some of the lost dollars. Thirty-five walkers raised $4,500 for MOVE, and the MRC made it through the year without having to cut services. People gave what they could: some as little as couple of dollars, others as much as $200. And, through the efforts of one of our board members, Senator John Kerry donated $500 to the Walk.

We also got the word out. Two TV stations, two radio stations, and four newspapers covered the Walk. My co-director, Rob Okun, published a commentary in the Greenfield Recorder.

So far this year (October 27), we've raised over $4,600 in donations and pledges, and were covered in newspapers, on public radio, and two TV stations.

So why do I do this? I could just sit at my desk and write wise opinion pieces for the media. It would be more comfortable to organize a gathering or two of some well-off individuals to raise the funds we need, and probably a lot easier. If this were just about publicity or money, there are any number of ways that would be less taxing on the sole.

The answer lies in what it means to me when men are abusive, especially toward women. I came to realize some time ago that every man who abuses or sexually assaults women is doing so in my name unless I say NO. What I mean by this is that these men are doing what they do as men: they are saying, "I can do this because I am a man." And they are saying, "This is what it means to be a man." They are defining masculinity for me, for you, for every man--and every woman. Women who meet me as a stranger have every right and reason to wonder if I'm "safe" or not--other men in their lives have taught them to be cautious. It's up to me to prove to her that I'm not going to abuse or assault her, that I'm not "one of those men." If I don't like that, it's not her fault but that of the men who taught her to be wary.

So I walk as a matter of self-interest. I'm tired of other men representing manhood with a fist or a weapon. I'm tired of other men saying all men beat their partners. I'm tired of other men saying rape is OK. And I'm sick and tired of other men making it harder for me to feel good about being male. I walk to say, I am a man and I'm proud to be with these others who believe as I do: That to be a nonviolent, loving man is right and good. I want the men who are abusive to take a good look at themselves, to realize there's another way to be strong, and to get help in stopping their abuse. I want them to join us.

Michael Dover can be reached at [email protected].

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