By Michael Redhead Champagne
My name is Michael Redhead Champagne and I am passionate about stopping violence in all its forms. While that phrase — ‘stop the violence’ — is broad and can pertain to many things, today I am speaking specifically to the boys and men out there and our role in preventing gender-based violence. I am speaking to those who benefit from patriarchy and those who perpetrate a disproportionate amount of acts of violence against women and gender diverse folks. If this is something you have not thought about until now, you have likely been benefiting all along.
If men and boys want to keep women and gender diverse folks safe, if we want to stop the violence, if we want to stop gender-based violence, then we need to start with ourselves.
Here are six things men and boys can do to end violence today:
1. EDUCATE – Learn about what gender-based violence is, as well as patriarchy and privilege and racism. Reflect on yourself, how you behave in the world and anything you can do to help stop the violence. Check out the resources at:
Also important: 2SLGBTQQIA+ – If you don’t know what this term means, please take a few moments and read the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls report, research this acronym and the gender identities it entails.
2. INTERRUPT – What is an interrupter? An interrupter is someone who takes it upon themselves to stop any violence that they see or come across in their day everyday life. This can be in your family, in the community, in your job or even at a systemic level.
3. SHARE – Educate another man in your life. Talk about healthy relationships and talk about how you can be an interrupter. Share resources and be a supporter of women.
4. CREATE – Create a video or a social media post to ask other men and boys to help stop the violence. Provide tools or resources for people to educate themselves. Include the hashtag #16Days #GenerationEquality and #EndGBV. Also, as men, we should use our platforms to elevate the voices of and the creations of women and gender diverse community members.
5. PLEDGE – Make a pledge to stop violence against women and girls in all its forms every time you come across it. Take a look at the Moose Hide Campaign for a fantastic example of Indigenous men leading in this way.
6. TAKE ACTION – If you are serious about supporting women and gender diverse folks, you will speak up when it is inconvenient for you. You will call out the inequities when you see them and you will defer to women’s voices where they have been historically ignored.
Let’s go, men. It is our time to give ourselves a reality check and start asking some tough questions. What do our relationships look like with our sisters, mothers, daughters, aunties and grandmas? What do our relationships look like with women in our workplaces? Are we okay with living in a world where our daughters and gender diverse relatives make less money and are put into more dangerous situations more often? I’m not.
We cannot treat gender-based violence as a problem that is happening to only women, or a problem that is happening elsewhere, away from us. It is here. It is in our households, in our workplaces and in our systems at large.
If that feels overwhelming, it’s because it is. But men, often, are only hearing about gender-based violence, while women and girls are living that unsafe reality every day.
Before you start by saying “not all men,” I want you to take a pause. Don’t defend the violence. This is not a time to say you are not one of the bad guys. Because the reality is: there are too many men who perpetrate violence, or stand by silent as it occurs.
Ask yourself whether you are able to do these six things above, to get started on doing some of the work so our sisters, mothers and community members don’t have to continue to face this violence while men and boys do nothing. I’m taking action in my own life, my example is my message because we need everyone’s help to stop the violence today.
Michael Redhead Champagne is a community organizer, author and public speaker from Winnipeg’s North End with family roots in Shamattawa First Nation. His work is rooted in justice, kindness and solutions at a system level and he believes we can all achieve mino bimadisiwin (the good life).