Recently the Governor Paul LePage surprised many in Maine when he talked about his childhood experience of violence and his commitment to ending domestic violence in Maine. As he presented his State of the State address I was participating in a national summit in Memphis, Tennessee to develop strategies for engaging men in ending male violence against women. The well-known speaker at the training talked about how men of power rarely speak explicitly about men’s violence against women. So for the governor to talk about his personal stake in ending domestic violence is commendable in its own right, and his willingness to name this violence as men’s violence is nothing short of politically courageous.
Governor LePage made some suggestions about strengthening legislation around loopholes in the existing bail system, but his bigger message was much more ambitious and complex. It was a call to men to end domestic violence. And although the Governor did not say this, I would broaden that call to include ending all sexual violence also. The call is ambitious and politically courageous because it shakes the foundation of male privilege which runs far deeper than partisan ideology.
Let’s be clear that is not a call to end violence by using violence. It is a call for men to hold men accountable. It is a call for men to start the painful introspection that reveals a multitude of beliefs which denigrate women and empower men to maintain a sense of superiority and the perceived right to control women. It is a call for men to challenge their families, friends, co-workers, and teammates to think and act differently. It is not easy, it is not cheap– but then again, this is Maine, and we surprise people.
Boys to Men