by Jessica Luther, aka scatx, who can also be found at her own blog, Speaker's Corner in the ATX, and blazing trails of righteous fury on Twitter.
[Content Note: Discussion of domestic violence.]
Just over a year ago, Melissa wrote a post called "Woman's Work," in which she talked about how misogynist anti-choicers count on "the effective void of male dissension, which supports their erroneous belief that they are the 'objective' arbiters of womanhood." When straight cis men fail to fight back against the harm done to all women (really, all people who aren't straight cis men), that silence is taken as tacit condoning by the people doing harm. One of the things that feminists and womanists often say is that things would change more rapidly and for the better for everyone if more straight cis men would be vocal opponents to misogyny in all of its forms.
I have some good news on this front.
Deep in the heart of my home state of Texas, there will be an anti-domestic violence rally in Dallas next month led by the mayor of the city, Mike Rawlings. Who will be in attendance? The men of Dallas. Rawlings said earlier this week that he expects 10,000 men to show up to the rally.
Can we pause for one moment and let that sink in? 10,000 men.
This is a response to a string of high-profile domestic violence murders that have taken place in the city in recent weeks, including the horrific case of a man who, after a long history of abusing his wife, tracked her down in the parking garage of the university where she worked and shot her to death.
Mayor Rawlings, less than a week later at a press conference, specifically stated that the victims of domestic violence are not to blame and if things are going to change, it is men who need to change their behavior: "It's our fault. It's not the women's fault. We want to make it known that any violent act toward a woman will not be tolerated by the men in the city."
At that point in time, he announced that he would be starting a public awareness campaign in the city "to change the male culture." He also showed incredible faith in the men of Dallas and the team of people he assigned to lead the campaign saying, "They'll stand with me in saying enough is enough. We will reinforce that hitting women is not acceptable, and we will learn how to intervene when we see it taking place."
The first major public event in this new campaign will be next month's rally. On Tuesday, Rawlings expressed that one way to stop violence in the future is to teach young boys that violence is unacceptable: "I want fathers to bring their sons. We have an intergenerational teaching moment here because, undoubtedly, this is a learned behavior."
Has Rawlings been listening to feminists/womanists?
For now, it is unclear what the next step in the public awareness campaign will be but Rawlings is unwavering when it comes to who he is directing the campaign at: "We're making this a grassroots movement. And we'll take it back to the community. In the past this has been viewed as a women's issue, but it ain't. It's our problem."
It's our problem.
This is radical.
And yet: Until my friend Andrea Grimes emailed me the story of the upcoming rally, I had not heard a single thing about this.
Thank you, Mayor Rawlings. I hope that your effort becomes a model for other city leaders and for other men around this country.
If you live in Dallas or somewhere close by and would like to attend this rally, it will take place at City Hall Plaza on March 23 at 10 a.m. "Athletes including Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr and former Cowboy Troy Aikman plan to attend the rally, as well as city leaders and religious leaders such as T.D. Jakes and Catholic bishop of the Dallas diocese Kevin Farrell."