Yukon men step up to fight violence against women

The feminist community is flipping the conversation on violence against women. Too often, women are blamed for being raped, assaulted or abused, Ketsia Houde, the executive director of Les Essentielles said.

The feminist community is flipping the conversation on violence against women.

Too often, women are blamed for being raped, assaulted or abused, Ketsia Houde, the executive director of Les Essentielles said. But the local francophone women’s organization is putting it the other way around.

“Women don’t need to be told not to be raped, we need to tell men not to rape,” Houde said.

Enter Scott Carlson, a self-identified feminist, who will head an upcoming project put together by the organization, called Engaging Yukon Men and Boys, which recently received $182,354 from the federal government’s Status of Women ministry.

Carlson revived the White Ribbon campaign in 2011, a men-led campaign in which men pledge to end violence against women.

Now he wants to start them young.

Carlson will be going around Watson Lake, Dawson City and Whitehorse to have “honest discussions” about male stereotypes with young men between the ages of 12 and 18. The discussions will take place in schools, workplaces, and even sports venues.

“These expectations we have of boys to be physical, to be dominant, to be often violent, is really highly prized,” Carlson said.

The conversations would teach boys and men to recognize signs of violence and be comfortable to speak out against it with their peers, he said.

It’s an urgent call. One in four Canadian women are sexually assaulted in their lifetime, Houde said.

Houde learnt about the tendency to blame victims for sexual assault from three years’ worth of questionnaires answered by participants at local music festivals.

Houde and Les Essentielles’ volunteers collected approximately 1,300 questionnaires this year alone. They set up a tent and handed out button pins with catchy mottos such as “consent is hot” at the Sunstroke and St. Jean Baptiste festivals in Whitehorse and Marsh Lake.

“One thing, kind of shocking (from the questionnaires), is a lot of people still blame women for being assaulted – if she dressed like that, behaved like that,” she said.

A lot of young people told Houde that women should protect themselves. It’s “a social bias” that needs to be changed, she said. That’s why Les Essentielles applied for the Status of Women grant, to take prevention measures a step further – with men on board.

Carlson will also train facilitators who are working in youth organizations such as BYTE (Bringing Youth Towards Equality) to lead discussions that debunk macho roles.

He’s still reaching out for more male volunteers. So far, he’s targeted the youth organization of the Skookum Jim Friendship Centre and First Nations youth groups in Watson Lake and Dawson City.

The project starts in the fall of 2013 and ends in March 2015. Any men interested in participating can join White Ribbon Yukon on Facebook or call Carlson at (867) 668-2636, extension 830.

Contact Krystle Alarcon at

krystlea@yukon-news.com

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