|This Spring, Plant the Seeds of Healthy Masculinity|
It is so appropriate that each year we honor Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April, a month when we celebrate new growth and a bright future. Though we have been rocked by high profile cases of young men committing violence against girls and women, I am continuously inspired every time I see one of our high school Men of Strength (MOST) Club members present to his class about the importance of bystander intervention in response to harassment and assault. I see visions of a peaceful society come to fruition when I hear one of our middle schools students talk about respecting his female classmates. Through working with these young men and boys, I know that sexual assault is not fate, a violent society is not destiny, and there are ways we can all work toward the bright future we envision every April. You can help through supporting the MOST Club with your gift in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
Each week, MOST Club Mentors gather with members in various middle school and high school classrooms across the country. When we first start meeting, I ask members in my groups a simple question, “What does it mean to be a real man?” It’s an answer they think they know, but they’ve never intentionally thought about. Eventually, they’ll give me words like tough and powerful, they’ll give me behaviors like having sex with lots of women and fighting, and they’ll give me the names of men they admire who they’ve never met. They’re often not the answers we want to hear, but they’re not surprising considering the multitude of messages young men receive about masculinity.
When I list all of those characteristics together, though, the young men’s faces turn a little sour. Their eyes comb every word, every way they’re supposed to be, the few ways they are, the many ways they’re not, and all the ways they know deep down they don’t want to be. In that moment, I’ve planted a seed. A seed that will burrow deep in these young men, a seed that will continue to be nurtured as we explore how unhealthy masculinity begets violence, risky behavior, and stunted emotional growth. That seed will eventually grow into a young man who is confident, caring, and willing to stand up for what’s right. The seeds my fellow MOST Club Mentors and I sow are blossoming into a powerful network of young men with both the attitudes and the skills to be positive changemakers in our society to prevent violence, especially violence against girls and women.
But Men Can Stop Rape and the MOST Club cannot continue to plant these seeds of healthy, nonviolent masculinity without your help. We need your help to fund important Community Strength Projects across the country, to deepen the MOST Club in communities where it exists, to expand it to communities where it doesn’t, and to finish out this program year STRONG. Please, plant some seeds this April in your own life and give what you can to help us plant seeds nationally. Help bring our students' seeds out of the darkness and into the nurturing rays of April's sun.