Tony Porter, co-founder of the nonprofit A Call to Men, believes ending violence against women starts by redefining what it means to be a man. In his moving 2010 TED Talk, Porter describes a time when he caught himself telling his sobbing five-year-old son to go to his room, pull himself together and not come out again until he “can talk to me like a man.”
But with his daughter? “She could get on my knee, cry, cry it out, it didn’t matter.” He realized that the definition of “being a man” meant emotions weren’t allowed, a feeling he traced back to his own childhood.
Growing up in New York City between Harlem and the Bronx, Porter says he was taught that “men had to be tough, had to be strong, courageous, dominating—no pain, no emotions, with the exception of anger.” It was ingrained in him that men were in charge, which meant women were not. He learned that women were of less value, they were the property of men and they could be treated like sexual objects. Only later did he learn these ideals of being a man were adopted by much of society.
Now, Porter is on a mission to change that stereotype, one talk at a time. He co-founded the nonprofit A Call to Men with Ted Bunch in 2002 to educate males all over the world that preventing domestic and sexual violence starts with them, and that starts with a conversation.
“We speak to a wide variety of audiences—high school and middle school students, colleges and universities, law enforcement, military personnel, government officials, and professional athletes and coaches. Our training team presents to tens of thousands of people each year,” Porter says, adding, “Our programs are geared toward men and boys, but we always encourage women to attend our events as well.”
One of A Call to Men’s guiding principals states that men are responsible for creating, maintaining and benefiting from a male-dominated culture. That’s why Porter says the organization’s motto is to “reach in and grab the hearts of men to ensure they leave our presence thinking and feeling differently than when they entered.”
To learn more about bringing A Call to Men to your area, visit their website here.
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