The Federation of Women’s Shelters held its third annual Men’s Luncheon for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, for men to discuss their role in rape culture and why it’s important to be part of the conversation.
The event, held at the Bain Mathieu Centre on Friday, helps kick off the annual 12 days of action for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which starts Nov. 25 and ends Dec. 6, the anniversary of the École Polytechnique massacre.
The theme of this year’s event dealt with violence against women in the workplace and men’s role in addressing the issue. Discussions were centered around prevention, awareness, intervention and support.
Filmmaker and civil rights activist Will Prosper, who chaired the discussions, said men have a critical role to play in stopping rape culture.
“Men have to make sure that we’re part of the discussion because we’re essentially part of the problem,” he says. “We need to be part of the solution.”
He points out that one in three women is sexually assaulted in Quebec, so men need to think about their actions.
One persistent problem that organizers have is the poor attendance by men. This year, though, 500 invitations were sent out to men across Montreal from a range of backgrounds, including business organizations, law enforcement, politics, the arts and education, but only 39 men attended.
“That tells you, a lot of men are not willing to be part of that conversation,” says Prosper. “We have to take a look at what we can do, to bring more men into that discussion, and we have to realize also that women have been part of that discussion for a long time.”
He says that too many men are avoiding the conversation and that doing so just perpetuates the problem.