Thursday, 31 May 2012

#SpeakUpMan- A tweetathon on the role of men in the fight on gender based violence

By Ranjani Raghunathan, Intern – Centre for Social Research
On Wednesday, 30th May 2012, @Bell_Bajao and @isfsd_csr initiated their second tweetathon entitled #SpeakUpMan (read about the first: #Genderinmedia)

@Bell_Bajao and @isfsd_csr started the tweetathon with the question “Why is it important to have men involved in the fight against gender based violence?” One of the first replies came from @OneVoiceGBV “As men are equally involved in each aspect of it, the only way to reduce it is to have the one board” @rainbowavenger from Malaysia pointed out that “Men are the perpetrators of most gender based violence. Not just about having a partner to work with, but changing mindsets too” @CSR_India concurred with her on the point on of changing mindsets of people. @Blank_Noise and @AmiFromIndia said that gender based violence is a social issue, and not just a gender issue, and must be tackled by every member of the society. @MendNow said “we should talk about everyone’s rights”.

Gender In Media

@koobear felt that feminists tend to push away men, which causes them to be further distanced from causes such as gender based violence, as they then see it as merely a gender issue. @GotStared corroborated this by tweeting “in our experience women led NGOs don't trust male led ones!” @MustBol said “there should be peace & reconciliation. Not revenge.”

@UberSchizo shared his personal experience of not even knowing a few years ago that street harassment is so common, and said that he realized it only when a girlfriend of his faced it.

@Bell_Bajao said “So we establish that men tend to feel left out or unwanted when it comes to #vaw” and then went on to say “We don't want that. What can we do to make issues such as #genderequality more male-friendly?” This was corroborated by @iWomenLeaders.

@runjoo said “we need to make it socially acceptable for men to be 'feminists' or speaking about gender issues” and @ankitavivek agreed to this point. @BPiali said “GBV should be uprooted from homes, GBV starts even before the child sees the light of day”. @halabol suggested that “Men can check their thoughts and actions towards women on a day to basis! thats a start!” @pallavikaushal agreed to this and said “start with ourselves. Make sure you don't let it happen with your friends and gender-b-violence both physical and mental!” @vivek2025 said “Be a man and fight violence against women and gender discrimination in our homes, our friend circles, our work places, our public spaces”. @HopeNetwork4U suggested “How about getting men to do sensitization training for other men?”

Many ideas for awareness generation among men came up. Some tweeters felt that the internet caters to a niche audience, and efforts must be taken to the real world to really make a difference. To this @MustBol said “virtual still has incredible outreach and anonymity and ease. Move on ground as well, but online costs less” @nauveen from Pakistan said “Media in it's all forms can be very influential for one, atleast if not a tv, most villages do have radios etc”.

@EndingViolence from Vancouver, Canada tweeted “We've been following #SpeakUpMan tweet-a-thon - very much appreciating the way men are urging other men to own their role to end #VAW@EndingViolence also retweeted many of the tweets.

Finally, the @_thealternative made a meme on the tweetathon to reflect the idea of men being equal partners in the fight against gender based violence.

And thus ended the second tweetathon, with more than 400 tweets, as opposed to around 250 tweets in last week’s session. Do we think that tweetathons will go to make a huge difference in society, or the way people think? No we’re not so idealistic. But this tweetathon did bring forth some core features about the role and involvement of men in the fight against gender based violence. One particular issue which was reiterated again and again, was that the concept of gender based violence should move from a gender specific focus to a more holistic approach- that is, it affects men and women alike, and only when we come together as a society, can this problem be tackled.

Gender based violence is not a new concept. Since time immemorial, this issue has been raised over and over again. Yet it continues to prevail, and rampantly at that. It means that despite an increase in education, increase in wealth and literacy, the societal attitudes on violence against women have not reduced. And while Twitter may be classified and dismissed as a niche medium of communication, catering to the very elite, the fact that an issue like gender based violence generated so many varied responses, from across the country and the world, is proof of the prevalent nature of this social evil. This, and the universal need and desire to put an end to it. Many of the suggestions for solutions mentioned that change needs to start from one self. A society which is free from gender based violence can only emerge from individuals, who bring about change in their every day attitudes and behaviours.

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