Men rally to address violence against women

Almost one hundred students, faculty and community members gathered on Waterman’s steps for the Men Advocating Change (M.A.C.) rally last Thursday, to support ending violence against women. “It’s really exciting to see everyone out here freezing to death,” said Amy Boyd, of the Center for Health and Wellbeing While the crowd might not have appreciated the reminder that the weather was hovering in the low 40s, the subtext of Boyd’s statement was clear enough: this many people care enough about preventing sexual violence that they were willing to brave the cold. “We are being raped, we are being murdered, if that is not a hate crime, I don’t know what is” Emily Franz, a local feminist said in regards to the recent murder of Michelle Gardner-Quinn. Members of Men Advocating Change wore black to the event because of Gardner-Quinn’s murder, while they, as well as the majority of the assembled crowd donned white ribbons to draw attention to the continual misogyny that exists worldwide, said M.A.C. president and UVM sophomore, Phillip Ortego. The white ribbon campaign is a “personal commitment to not commit, advocate, or accept gender-based violence” Ortego said. Scott Hampton, the director of the New Hampshire group “Ending the Violence” aimed at combating domestic abuse, said that the white ribbon campaign was started in response to a shooting in Montreal in which a man killed fourteen female students. Men Advocating Change has been handing out ribbons in Cook Commons throughout the month of October to support the campaign, which started in Canada in 1991 and has since become a worldwide movement. The group holds meetings every Wednesday night at 8:30 in Wright 103 and both men and women are welcome to attend, Ortego said. Men Advocating Change has sponsored events at UVM such as the Vagina Monologues, freshmen barbecues, and several think-tank films, since its inception three years ago. Hampton, the guest speaker of the event, said that America’s sexist culture condones treating women as sexual objects, and that is a major contribution to the tolerance of abuse in this country. Gail Shampnois, the director of student and community relations, said that ignorance and acceptance allow for the prevalence of abuse. “Some still consider rape an act of male sexuality gone awry, rather than an act of violence. But we know different, just as we know that if a person hits another person over the head with a frying pan, we don’t call that cooking,” Shampnois said, quoting Christopher Kilmartin, editor of The Society for the Psychological Study of Masculinity and Men Bulletin. The intention of the rally, as articulated by several speakers, was to take steps toward the prevention of gender based violence. “I know we can change our view from Michelle Gardner-Quinn was just the latest victim, to Michelle is the last victim we are willing to tolerate,” Hampton said at the conclusion of his speech, eliciting a round of applause and cheers from the crowd.Boyd acknowledged that a lot of the speakers repeated what had already been said, but remained optimistic about the cause: “I realize we may be preaching to the choir, but someone once said, even the choir needs practice… and we have a great choir here.”One of the more articulate and inclusive speeches was made by Miles Dougherty- a brother of Phi Delta Theta. He acknowledged that fraternity members are often seen as the perpetrators of sexual assault, and while he did not overtly deny the possibility that some members of Greek life were morally conflicted, he talked of the importance of accepting “the natural brotherhood of flesh and blood.”Dougherty talked at length of the importance of integrity and honor to him, and within the Greek system, but “through my own actions,” he said, “I cannot believe to have this kind of honor so long as those I associate myself with do not share this honor.”