The Violence Stops Here – Men Ending Violence

Re: Photos of teen’s rape by gang go viral on Internet, Sept. 17

By Michael Harris

As a man, I am deeply disturbed that the alleged rape of a 16-year-old girl by seven young men could take place and be recorded and shared with others on Facebook. What is taking place in our society that would make these young males think of drugging and raping the girl, recording the incident and making it public? What is going on in their networks of family and friends to encourage such actions? What type of video games and music are they accessing? Are they heavily into porn? What experiences have they had, individually or collectively, to let them believe their debasing behaviour is in any way acceptable?

As for the girl, I am concerned that she will suffer long-lasting emotional and spiritual damage. How does she go on with her life and keep trusting in her spiritual beliefs? When will she ever trust the company of men again? I pray for her complete recovery.

Our women and children are sacred. The courts and the federal and provincial governments need to work together to make laws with heavy penalties that will deter people from behaving this way. All of our governments, school boards and community councils — and, indeed, all of our spiritual and religious circles — must develop programs that will encourage our youth to respect and protect our life-givers and children.

Michael Harris


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The Violence Stops Here – Men Stopping Violence

Violence Against Women in Our Society is an Epidemic

by Troy Westwood

I need to be careful with this, but it’s something I feel very strongly about. Today in the paper is another story of a vicious attack on a woman by a man and a sentence that is tragic. The father of the girl who was attacked is outraged by the sentence and where it is being served. I can’t imagine his emotions. I don’t know what I would do as a father in that situation.

Violence against women in our society is an epidemic.

It’s everywhere and occurring often. As a man, I say sorry to the women who are in anyway affected by violence. As a man, it is up to me to try to change the environment that exists for far too many of the women in society. Every single day I am around situations in the city where violence is a part of the equation of every day life for women. The presence of violence is abundant, the potential for violence around every corner. So many women being affected, so many moms, so many kids. The trickle down affect of violence and how it plays out in the world around us is immeasurable.

Violence against women is not a women’s issue. Women are the victims. Violence against women is a man’s issue, and it’s up to us as men to put an end to it. There are all kinds of reasons as to why a man might impose violence on a woman. None of the reasons are acceptable. It is something that should never happen. As a man when I see it happen, when I think it might happen, I must speak up. If we as men do not play an active role in declaring war on all forms of violence against women, and choose to sit quietly, then in our silence we are contributing to the problem.


Troy Westwood – Little Hawk



Troy Westwood is known for many things and in no specific order, some of his accomplishments include a 17 year professional football career with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, in which he amassed an amazing total of 30 career team records and is the all-time leader in Blue Bomber scoring. Troy retired as the leader in playoff field goal percentage in CFL history.

He is currently working as a Case Manager at Family Connections, a family reunification program in Winnipeg along with his weekday morning role as Co-Host of the QX104’s Waking Crew.

Troy remains active in the community as a Board Member of Nova House, a women’s shelter and place of safety in Selkirk as well as serving on the Board of the Manitoba Children’s Museum.

A Second Chance by Troy Westwood

A Second Chance

Posted By: Troy Westwood • 9/17/2010 9:11:00 AM

At some point of time, most everyone deserves a second chance. I don’t believe everyone deserves a second chance, but most often a second chance seems the fair thing to do. Enter Eric Tillman. For those who do not know the story, Eric Tillman plead guilty to sexual misconduct for an act he committed while he was the General Manager of the Saskatchewan Roughriders against his 16 year old female babysitter. For his guilty plea his was granted an absolute discharge with no criminal record. Soon after he pleaded guilty the girl and her family granted him forgiveness.

A couple of days ago the Edmonton Eskimos, who as an organization are desperate for wins, decided to hire Tillman as their new General Manager. When I heard Eric Tillman had been hired it made me a little sad. I know he needs to make a living, and I know in time he likely should have a second chance, it just seems to me that not enough time has passed here.

An aspect of this story that really, really bothers me is that Tillman to this day, still contributes some portion of his actions to the fact that he was somehow influenced by painkillers he had taken. It makes me sick that Tillman makes such a claim. As a player in the CFL for 17 years there were several times I had to take a fair amount of painkillers for extended periods of time to help allow me to practice and play. Not once was I ever induced to do something out of character.

Eric Tillman needs to take full responsibility for what he did. His claim as to the affect the painkillers had on his actions is a bunch of BS, and he needs to stop using it as a crutch in helping defend his poor judgment.

Edmonton’s decision to hire Tillman highlights the golden rule in professional sport. Win. Winning is all that matters in professional sport, and when an organization is desperate to win, it might make decisions that it wouldn’t otherwise consider. I guarantee some fairly interesting conversations occurred behind closed doors in Edmonton debating the amount of time that had passed since Tillman’s guilty plea and the need for the team to turn things around.

In professional sport everything finishes second to winning, even social responsibility.

Troy Westwood – Little Hawk

Troy Westwood – Little Hawk


Troy Westwood is known for many things and in no specific order, some of his accomplishments include a 17 year professional football career with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, in which he amassed an amazing total of 30 career team records and is the all-time leader in Blue Bomber scoring. Troy retired as the leader in playoff field goal percentage in CFL history.

He is currently working as a Case Manager at Family Connections, a family reunification program in Winnipeg along with his weekday morning role as Co-Host of the QX104’s Waking Crew.

Troy remains active in the community as a Board Member of Nova House, a women’s shelter and place of safety in Selkirk as well as serving on the Board of the Manitoba Children’s Museum.

Real Men Speak Up Against Violence Against Women

Real men speak up against the exploitation and abuse of women – Please share this.
by Michael Beasley Ⓥ on Sunday, September 5, 2010 at 12:01am

SILENCE HURTS. If you’re a real man, please share this. Help us achieve equality and end the suffering.


Be aware.

* Words are very powerful, especially when spoken by people with power over others. We live in a society in which words are often used to put women down, where calling a girl or woman a “bitch,” “freak,” “whore,” “baby,” or “dog” is common. Such language sends a message that females are less than fully human. When we see women as inferior, it becomes easier to treat them with less respect, disregard their rights, and ignore their well-being.

* Don’t fund sexism. Refuse to purchase any magazine, rent any video, subscribe to any Web site, or buy any music that portrays girls or women in a sexually degrading or abusive manner. Protest sexism in the media.

* Rape and relationship abuse won’t be taken seriously until everyone knows how common it is. In Australia alone, one in six adult women has experienced sexual assault since the age of 15. Approximately 99% of the perpetrators of sexual violence are men. 45% of women sexually assaulted since the age of 15 had experienced more than one incident.

* Understand the arguments against pornography depicting adult women. Realize that the sex trade in this country is worth billions of dollars. Examine your thoughts about the existence of strip clubs, prostitution and related sex trade businesses. Question the purpose behind the proliferation of explicit and graphic sex sites on the Internet. Think about how eroticizing violent sex contributes to violence against women.

Speak up.

* You may never see a man abusing his partner or witness a rape, but you will see and hear attitudes and behaviors that degrade women and promote rape and abuse. When your best friend tells a joke about abusing women in some way, say you don’t find it funny. When you read an article that blames an abusive relationship survivor for being abused, write a letter to the editor. When laws are proposed that limit women’s rights, let politicians know that you won’t support them. Do anything but remain silent.

* Don’t engage in any forms of sexual harassment, such as wolf-whistling, cat-calling, unwanted touching, outrageous or inappropriate behavior. Women are not public property, available for our intrusions. Neither are men.

* Develop an awareness of the cultural supports for violence against women. Develop the ability to recognize myths which support violence against women.

* If a brother, friend, classmate, or teammate is abusing his female partner—or is disrespectful or abusive to girls and women in general—don’t look the other way. If you fell comfortable doing so, try to talk to him about it. Urge him to seek help. Or if you don’t know what to do, consult a friend, a parent, a professor, or a counselor. DON”T REMAIN SILENT.

Talk with women…

* About how violence against women and fear of violence against women affects their daily lives; about how they want to be supported if it has happened to them; about what they think men can do to prevent sexual violence.  If you’re willing to listen, you can learn a lot from women about the impact of relationship abuse and how to stop it.

* Become an ally to the women in your life – do not participate in sexist behavior by objectifying or stereotyping women.

* Believe people when they tell you they’ve been raped or abused. Support what they say about it. Don’t ask about their behavior, what they were wearing, etc. Listen to them.

* Recognize that women neither ask for nor deserve to be raped or abused ever.

Talk with men…

* About how it feels to be seen as a potential abuser; about whether they know someone who’s been abused. Learn about how relationship abuse touches the lives of men and what we can do to stop it.

* Mentor and teach young boys about how to be men in ways that don’t involve degrading or abusing girls and women. Volunteer to work with gender violence prevention programs, including anti-sexist men’s programs. Lead by example.

* Approach gender violence as a MEN’s issue involving men of all ages and socioeconomic, racial and ethnic backgrounds. View men not only as perpetrators or possible offenders, but as empowered bystanders who can confront abusive peers.

Confront Yourself

* Have the confidence to confront your own actions, beliefs, and opinions.  Have the strength to look inside and admit your own faults and to commit to changing the way you think and act.

* Become educated and engaged.  Attend training sessions, read books and articles, join a student group.  Learn the myths and realities of violence against women and understand how our society condones it.

* Be aware of sexual stereotypes and how they influence attitudes and behaviors. Social roles and expectations may affect a man’s decisions about relationships. Men are taught that expressing feelings is not masculine. Examining your social role and learning ways to express feelings directly and non-violently can help to create deeper and more meaningful interpersonal relationships. You don’t have to prove yourself.

* Don’t have sex with anyone against their will.  Be responsible with your penis.  “Having an erection doesn’t mean you have to put it somewhere.”  Take “no” for an answer, and heed the “no” equivalents (“stop,” “I don’t want to do that,” “I’m not ready,” etc.)  Don’t assume that when women say “no” they really mean “maybe” or “yes.”  It is never okay to use force or coercion.  Don’t assume that because a woman dresses or flirts in a manner you consider to be sexy it means she wants to have sex with you.

* Don’t abuse girlfriends or partners.  This includes controlling, intimidating, manipulative, threatening, and harmful behavior.  Realize that abuse takes many forms, and that abuse is a choice.  A partner always has the option of leaving the room or breaking up.

Q's Pix

Men – What YOU Can Do

What YOU Can Do

“If you choose to do nothing, it’s a choice with consequences”
– Jackson Katz

“Men are ultimately the only ones who can put an end to violence against women”
– Troy Westwood

Adapted from The Pixel Project

There are 4 key ways in which you can help prevent, stop and end violence against women:

* Prevention through example and education

* Intervention

* Activism

* Self-awareness

Other ways:

* Speaking out
* Respecting the women in your life



Prevention Through Example and Education

Educate yourself and others about how larger social forces affect the conflicts between individual men and women.

It is also possible to attend programs, take courses, watch films, and read articles and books about colonization, racial/cultural masculinities, sexism, gender inequality, and the root causes of gender violence.

Mentor and teach young boys about how to be men in ways that don’t involve degrading or abusing girls and women. Volunteer to work with gender violence prevention programs, including anti-sexist men’s programs. Lead by example.




Here are some of the ways in which you can step up and step in as a man:

  • If your father, uncle, brother, cousin, friend, male classmate, male co-worker or male teammate is abusing his female partner – or is disrespectful or abusive to girls and women in general – never look the other way. If you can, call him out on it and talk to him about it immediately. Tell him to STOP IT NOW. Urge him to seek help.


  • If you see a woman or girl being physically assaulted or about to be raped in front of you – DO SOMETHING. If there are other bystanders (men or women), ask them for help and set an example by stepping in and urging them to step in with you to stop the incident from happening or continuing by pulling him off her and sending someone to get help from the authorities.


  • Report the incident and stand your ground as a witness. Do not “let it go” or pretend it never happened afterwards or rationalize it as “he was having a bad day”. When a man hits or rapes a woman once, he WILL do it again – maybe not to her but to another woman or girl. There is no excuse for abuse.


  • If you don’t know what to do or if your efforts at immediate intervention does not work, take further action – consult a friend, a parent, a professor, a counselor or even the authorities to get help for both the perpetrator and victim. NEVER REMAIN SILENT.


  • If a woman you know comes to you for help to escape the abuse, help her leave her abuser. This could mean everything from helping her plan her escape to providing transport for when she packs up to leave for the women’s shelter, helping her make arrangements with the women’s shelter and accompanying her to report the abuse or rape.


In short:

See yourself as a responsible and empowered man who can take steps to do what is right to stop violence against women, be it confronting your abusive male peers or helping a woman escape.




The simplest and most effective form of activism that you as an individual man can undertake in your daily life is to pro-actively raise awareness about the issue of violence against women.

Speaking out against violence against women is absolutely crucial in helping to stop and end it. Understand and believe that you’re not speaking out on behalf of women, but because it affects and offends you as a man.


Q's Pix

Here are some of the ways you can get started:

  • Talk to your male peers about it.
  • Discuss it with your family and circle of friends.
  • If you are a teacher or community leader working with young boys and men – talk to them about it.
  • Talk about how it makes you feel and how big the problem is globally, anything to get people talking about the problem.
  • Other ways in which you can participate in preventing, stopping and ending violence against women:
  • Actively help women and organizations such as Battered Women’s Support Services who are working to end all forms of gender-based violence – be a participant.
  • Don’t fund sexism in the media – boycott any magazine, video, website or music that portrays girls and women in a sexually abusive or degrading manner.
  • Don’t remain silent about sexism in the media:
    o Protest and write letters to the editor.
    o Urge your friends, family and community (including the local library) to join you in boycotting any media that degrades women.
    o Teach your sons, nephews and male students that sexism in the media is wrong and damaging.

Email for more information and to participate in Men Stopping Violence initiatives.




“First step to creating change is awareness”
– Ted Rutherford

* Have the courage to look inward and to question your own attitudes towards girls and women.
* Don’t be defensive when something you do or say ends up hurting someone else. Take responsibility for your actions.
* Try hard to understand how your own attitudes and actions might inadvertently perpetuate sexism and violence, and work toward changing them.
* Be conscious of your day-to-day treatment of the girls and woman in your life – make the effort to stop yourself when you realize that you are treating them with disrespect.

If you are emotionally, psychologically, physically, financially/economically, or sexually abusive or violent towards women, or have been in the past, be responsible STOP – seek professional help NOW.

Speaking Out

The important thing to remember is that men can help stop violence against women by educating and raising awareness in other men.

In short: Speaking out against gender-based violence in the company of your male peers.

Men’s lives are highly structured by relationships with other men – always keep in mind that men’s attitudes and behaviours are shaped in powerful ways by their male peers. Men have to change the traditional acceptance of social norms and become allies to Women.

Therefore, men like you have to become great examples in implementing non-violent masculinity by practicing and teaching qualities and behaviours such as listening, empathy, and respect for women along with other men and boys.

Here are some ways for spreading the message amongst your peers:

* Vocalize your stand against violence against women.
* Emphasize that women are your equal and should be respected.
* Emphasize that both men and women must work together to end gender-based violence.
* Teach young boys and young men that women should be treated by love, civility and respect.
* Hold other men accountable for their actions.
* Speak out every chance you get.
* Lead by example – step up to stop violence against women in your life every chance you get.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of how you can spread the message but it is that all important starting point that will help to bring an end to violence against women and spread humane values and beliefs at the same time.

Respecting the women in your life

Men should treat women in the same way they should treat any other member of society – with courtesy and as human beings and individuals with the right to live life free of violence.  Assess the ways in which you are using and maintaining power imbalances with the women in your life and STOP.

Email for more information and to participate in Men Stopping Violence initiatives.



The Violence Stops Here – Men Stopping Violence

My First Time


Byron Hurt

The first time I spoke out against men’s violence against women, I was mad nervous, yo.  My talk was in front of a group of guys that I knew pretty well – the men’s basketball team at my alma mater, Northeastern University (NU) in Boston.  I had never spoken to a group of men about sexism and violence against women before and the fact that I knew just about all of the guys in the room made my first experience doing so even more nerve-racking. Just two months earlier I was a student-athlete at NU, just like them.  I was a former football player and had played numerous pick-up basketball games with many of the guys on the team.  I had eaten dinner with them in the campus cafeteria, and partied with them around the city of Boston. Now I was back at my alma mater in a very different capacity – working as a mentor-training specialist for the Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) Project, a violence prevention program designed to encourage and inspire men to speak out against physical and sexual violence against women.  I wondered if the guys would take me seriously.

The guys poured into the room after an intense basketball practice, tired from running sprints and shooting baskets for nearly 2 hours.  Some dressed in sweats and flip-flops – others wore sweatshirts with jeans and sneakers. Several white colored cardboard boxes filled with pizza were laid out for the hungry team to devour during our talk.  Bottles of soda and plastic cups lined the table. The small classroom with big windows had just enough desks to accommodate all of the players on the team, about 15 total.  It was a dark Fall New England evening, around 7:30 p.m.   No one on the team knew why he was there or what the presentation was about.  The head coach, Karl Fogel, known for his brash and abusive coaching style, introduced Jackson Katz, the founder of the MVP program, and me to the team, and then quickly left the room. As the presentation got started, I remember feeling a little unsure if Jackson’s idea of teaching athletes bystander intervention in the face of men’s abusive behavior toward women would actually work. Jackson successfully used his passion and the power of persuasion to convince me that men needed to speak out against violence against women, but would it work with other male athletes?  Honestly, I had my doubts.

I had been in the basketball team’s position before.  As a former athlete, I remembered how inconvenient it was to sit through a stiff lecture given by a counselor, academic advisor, or guest speaker after a grueling practice.  It could be unbearably boring.  Physically, you are tired, your body aches, you have homework to do, and all you really want to do is eat dinner, go back to your room, and chill.  Now, here I was, standing in front of the room preparing to give a lecture to guys who, I’m sure, didn’t want to be there.  I felt like a union worker who crossed the picket line to go work for the corporate bosses in fancy suits.

Coaches and players generally view workshops like these as a colossal waste of time.  I knew domestic violence wasn’t a priority for coach Fogel or the players. I also knew the only reason Fogel agreed to let his players participate in the 90-minute workshop was because the athletic director mandated all male athletes at NU go through the MVP program. I knew if Jackson and I were going to be effective at all, our presentation had to pull in guys immediately.  But I wasn’t sure I could deliver.  I had experience speaking on front of audiences, but I was new at speaking about gender violence.  I lacked confidence and my stomach was wrapped in knots. Secretly I wished my first training session were somewhere far, far away, preferably in another state, in front of a roomful of guys I didn’t know.  But here I was, in my own backyard, talking to familiar faces about a topic most guys regard as women’s issues.  I knew that if I came off poorly, my masculine credibility would be in question with the guys.  I was deeply afraid the basketball team would think I had gone soft.

Jackson, on the other hand, seemed much less nervous than me. The first man to graduate from the University of Massachusetts with a minor in Women’s Studies, Jackson received his Master’s degree in Education at Harvard University. He proudly declared himself a pro-feminist male.  He knew all sorts of statistics about physical and sexual violence to support his argument that men needed to confront other men’s abusive behavior in order for it to stop. His analysis on gender violence was sharp and incisive.  When it came to challenging men to take more responsibility for the high levels of rape, sexual assault, battering, and sexual harassment, Jackson had ice water running through his veins. His experience as a grassroots anti-sexist activist made him fearless in front of audiences of resistant, sometimes-hostile men.  Me?  I was green.  I was young, unsure, and still grasping the bigness of the problem. I had no idea that violence against women was a global crisis. The idea that individual men who practiced sexism or abused women contributed to a much larger system of patriarchy that kept men in control over women, was a new concept to me. Prior to meeting Jackson, I knew a lot about how racism functioned in our society, but never saw the relationship between racism and sexism.  Furthermore, I didn’t see how, as a black man, I could be a victim of racism yet perpetuate sexism.  I didn’t know that one out of four American women would be raped or sexually assaulted in their lifetime.  I had no clue that battering was the leading cause of injury in the United States ­– more than rapes and automobile accidents combined. And I certainly did not understand the terrorizing effect men’s abusive behavior had on girls and women.

It’s ironic that I didn’t see men’s violence against women as a big problem. It was part of my lived experience:  as a boy growing up I had witnessed my father’s emotional abuse of my mother.  I had seen men from all walks of life hit, harass, or sexually assault women.  I heard guys tell sexist jokes at school on the playground, and in the locker room before and after practice.  I admit, I laughed at many of those jokes.  I cashed in on my currency as an athlete and had sex with adoring women who I had absolutely no interest in beyond sex. I called women bitches, hoes, sluts, and other negative words around my teammates, fraternity brothers, and other male friends.  I viewed girls and women as disposable if they didn’t serve my interests or cater to my needs.  I had double standards around sex – I could have a long list of sexual partners – but she could not.  And, like my father, I had yelled and said mean-spirited things during emotional arguments with my girlfriends.  Yes, it was all too familiar.   Men’s violence against women was real.

So that night, in front of the men’s basketball team, I knew we were about to engage in real talk.  What I didn’t know going into the session, is that I was going to learn almost as much as the basketball players would learn. My initiation into the world of anti-sexist activism was a night to remember.

To start the workshop, Jackson gave an overview of the program and told the team what we were there to discuss.  When they learned we were there to talk about violence against women, the guys shifted in their chairs, looked around to each other, and murmured.  After delivering a passionate intro, Jackson set the tone for the workshop. He then introduced me, and gave me the floor to address the team.
The room fell silent when I began to speak.  I don’t remember exactly what I said, but I do remember stammering my way through my opening remarks, and speaking with a straight face, and a serious tone. It’s funny, looking back, how seriously I took myself.  I wanted to convey to them that men’s violence against women was not a joking matter. I also wanted the team to view me as an authority figure, not a washed-up athlete returning to campus to pontificate.

I was stunned at how engaged the guys were as I spoke.  They seemed to take my talk seriously, just as I had wanted.  But now the hard work began.  It was time to engage the men in an interactive conversation about gender violence and bystander intervention.  After my remarks, Jackson passed out our teaching tool, the MVP Playbook.  The Playbook contained a series of real-life scenarios placing men in the position of bystanders as a teammate made sexist comments or abused a woman.  We asked for volunteers to read each scenario aloud, and then launched the group into a lively interactive discussion. Most of the guys had never men lead this kind of conversation before and listened intently as team members took turns debating how they would handle a teammate who was physically or sexually assaulting a woman. But some guys in the room postured in front of their teammates, looking disinterested.  And whenever someone said something thoughtful or intelligent or challenged a teammate’s sexist comments, his teammates would laugh and tease him.

Most guys said they would never hit a woman.  But as we delved deeper into the issues, guys began to reveal more and more of their innermost sexist opinions. Several team members made inappropriate comments and then snickered or sucked their teeth after I sternly corrected them.  When I challenged them about their attitudes, they avoided looking inward and deflected physical and sexual violence onto women, claiming they were the real problem, not men.  The more I challenged them, the more guys became defensive.  I was trying to control their thoughts rather than guide the conversation and allow honest conversation to flow.  Soon guys started to shut down as the conversation devolved into a battle between them and me.  Instead of trying to reach the men, I was trying to show off the knowledge I had learned in the two months since I had joined the MVP team.  As the facilitator, I wanted to win each argument.  My first training session was getting off to a rocky start.

But Jackson bailed me out and taught me a few facilitation skills that I would later use in future training sessions.  My serious demeanor, inflexibility, and lack of openness during the discussion didn’t go over well with the team.   Jackson, on the other hand remained loose and comfortable with the guys’ honest responses. Jackson skillfully used humor and candid personal stories to pull in the men and ease their defensiveness. As a result, when Jackson spoke, the basketball team listened.  I was uncomfortable in my skin while Jackson was completely comfortable in his. Initially, I thought they were taking Jackson more seriously because, by virtue of his white skin, they saw him as more of an authority figure than me.  Looking back, though, Jackson was the authority figure in the room.  His grasp of the issues, supported by sobering statistics and numbing personal anecdotes captivated the room.  His passion, conversational style of presenting, and nonjudgmental responses was more inviting than mine. He was engaging while I was self-righteous and preachy.

Whenever one of the guys said something deeply sexist or made a comment that wasn’t well thought out, he allowed the team to debate amongst themselves and then inserted himself as the facilitator.  He responded to the absurdly sexist comments with facts, and used racial analogies to make connections between sexism and racism. They listened to what Jackson had to say, not because he was white, but because of his command of the issues and because he made the issues relevant to them in a way I did not. When Jackson wrapped up the discussion, the team erupted in applause.  We all had been schooled.

After the presentation, when the last guy had finally left the room, Jackson continued to teach me about the most effective ways to engage men.   We recounted the night’s experience, and he explained to me that, for most guys, discussing gender violence in a roomful of other men is completely new and unexplored terrain. He explained how so many men have never had a conversation about sexism or violence against women – particularly a conversation led by two men.  The process of allowing guys to talk and debate the subject, Jackson said, represented growth and progress.

I was thinking that the session with the basketball team was an utter failure and that I did a horrible job as a facilitator.  But Jackson commended me for having the courage to challenge my peers about their sexist attitudes.  “Don’t worry,” he told me. “The more you do this, the easier it will get.” I felt encouraged.

A few weeks went by when the NU News, Northeastern’s student newspaper reported that a men’s basketball player allegedly sexually assaulted a female student in one of the residence halls.  Back at the office, the MVP staff received the news hard.  Did this mean the program was ineffective?  I wondered if our discussion with the team was a waste of time.  Thinking we had failed, my doubts about the MVP Program changing men’s behavior seemed to be confirmed.  On the day the NU News broke the story, one of the basketball players from the training session saw me walking up Massachusetts Avenue, not too far from campus.

As I waited for the light to change before crossing the street, he jogged over to me, and extended his hand.  “What’s up B. Hurt?” he said.  “Chillin’ man, what’s going on?” I replied as we dapped each other up.  “You heard about what happened, right?” he asked.  I was wondering if that’s what he wanted to talk about.  “Yeah, I did.  That’s messed up, man. What do you think about it?” I asked.  He took a moment, shook his head, and answered humbly, “This violence against women thing is real, yo.”

After an awkward moment of silence, he continued, “I know you probably thought that no one was listening to you or took you seriously when you and Jackson Katz spoke to our team. But I just wanted you to know that even though I was quiet and didn’t say much, I was listening, man.”  He apologized for his team’s immature behavior during our training session, and added, “I just wish my teammate had listened to what y’all were saying. No one on the team is laughing anymore.”


Unfortunately it took a teammate embroiled in a sexual assault case to reinforce the MVP message. “I hear you, man. You’re right,” I said.  “It is a real issue.  The cross light changed and we walked across the street, heading in separate directions. He gave me one last pound, and said, “Ayight man, I’ll rap to you later, brother.  Thanks for talking to our team.”  “Peace, man.” I said. “Thanks for approaching me and telling me that. I appreciate it.” “No problem,” he said.  “Maybe we should have another one of those workshops,” he said, walking away, smiling. “Obviously we need more training.”  “Keep doing what you’re doing, Byron. It may take a while, but you are making a difference.”


Byron Hurt is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, a published writer, and an anti-sexist activist. Learn more at