Voices of Men continues to promote Healthy Manhood
Thursday, November 15, 2018
Contributors: Tom Berkedal, President of Fox Valley Voices of Men and Tony Gonzalez, Vice President of Fox Valley Voices of Men
This morning, Voices of Men had their annual Call to Action breakfast to engage men and boys in helping end sexual assault and domestic violence in our community. Remarks (summarized below) were delivered by Voices of Men leadership team members Tom Berkedal and Tony Gonzalez to help kick off the event. View a video of the entire event online.
Three months ago, a change was made in the leadership of Voices of Men, due to reports of troubling, inappropriate and harassing behavior by our lone paid employee, who submitted his resignation.
It was—and in some ways, still is—an intensely emotional and difficult time for those who care about Voices of Men, and those who have volunteered time, talent and finances to helping us do the important work of eradicating domestic violence and sexual assault.
Voices of Men is much larger than the actions of one individual. We work with hundreds of past and present volunteers, and the organization’s vision of “creating a community where boys are taught Healthy Manhood, and men treat all people with dignity” remains more vital than ever.
We continue to urge men and boys to listen to victims who endure pain and injustice and, most importantly…to believe them. We know that sexist, harassing behaviors are often minimized by a “boys will be boys” mentality—or as in this case—self-described as “blind spots.” We reject these descriptions of what are clearly dehumanizing acts.
We plead with men and boys, to establish a clear understanding of the power and control that exists within your relationships, power that comes by virtue of your size, strength, position within an organization, and stature in our community, to name a few.
It’s imperative that all of us men and boys respect and not abuse the power and control that exists in our relationships with others. And we implore all of us men and boys to conduct ourselves always with the most basic of human decencies, treating all people with dignity and respect. So what’s next?
Even in the difficult and painful circumstances of the past three months, we have an opportunity. We have an opportunity to reexamine our organization on many levels, and strengthen our practices.
Voices of Men has begun the work of addressing things such as support to victims, changes in our organizational structure, policy, training and more.
This is an organization of men, informed and inspired by the insightful and strong leaders of four local domestic violence and sexual assault agencies—Harbor House Domestic Abuse Programs, Sexual Assault Crisis Center, Reach Counseling, and Christine Ann Domestic Abuse Services.
We are partners. We hear them, and we support them. And we will continue to engage men and boys in the fight to end domestic violence and sexual assault in our community.
Now, more than ever, that’s our commitment. Thank You.