Step 1: Understanding the Importance of Cultural Differences
One-size-fits-all solutions to gender-based violence usually do not work in diverse communities. In building alliances it’s important to recognize cultural differences, as well as the fact that the values of dominant cultural groups are not the norm in all settings.
The history of work with domestic violence survivors is instructive. Many activists in the North American movement to end gender-based violence have heard stories or seen cases in which women of color who were survivors of abuse were not able or willing to access services. These women have historically faced overwhelming barriers, starting with the expanded repertoire of tools of control available to the abuser and continuing with obstacles placed by the community, the culture, the criminal justice system and the service providers. At the same time, advocates for women who have experienced violence have found it difficult to reach women of color with their services.
The movement has made greater efforts to include these survivors in the past decade, but there is still a long way to go.
As we move toward primary prevention of gender-based violence and face the challenge of engaging men, an obvious question comes up: Are we going to repeat the mistakes of the past? Are we going to pay attention to communities of color as an afterthought and only when we are pressured to do so? Or are we going to be proactive in our inclusion of people of color and start building trust from the beginning?
Do this exercise: Take yourself back to a situation in which you were uncomfortable because you were in the minority. How did it feel? What would you have needed to feel more comfortable? What would you have needed to be able to create bridges with other people?
- Why do you think it’s important to take cultural differences into account when working with men and boys to stop gender violence?
- What are the consequences of attempting to engage men of color if you ignore culture and cultural differences?
Share your responses and see what other people are saying about recognizing cultural differences in building alliances.
Men, Difference and Racism by Michael Flood is an introduction to gender and race/ethnicity among men that explores the significance of the interrelationship of racism and sexism for men’s activism.
Power and Control Tactics Used Against Immigrant Women provides information on abusive tactics used against immigrant women in the United States.
Last modified 2004-09-06 11:46 AM