After years of working with mostly female victims of domestic and sexual violence, Michelle began working in a program designed to offer a change process to abusive men (mostly). This powerful paradigm shift helped her to explore the harmful societal constructs we use to raise boys (“boys don’t cry”, “be a real man”, “show no weakness”) which can cause harm to boys/men and ultimately to girls/women.
These societal constructs have created a version of masculinity that is extreme. Author Jackson Katz calls this “toxic masculinity”. These hyper-masculine standards of what creates a “real man” cheat men from many healthy emotional experiences. Often, they are taught that emotions are feminine and that feminine is weak. If we teach these boys/men that the worst thing they could be in the world is female, how will they learn to value girls/women? If we are to ever prevent and end issues of violence against women, it will be because we changed the way we raise boys and treat men.