The idea of a ‘Man of Strength’ can evoke a number of traditional images of stereotypical masculinity. Sadly, too many of these images include elements of aggression, abuse of power, and violence. These harmful norms associated with masculinity can have a toxic effect on our culture as violence is excused as “boys will be boys” and women are expected to take measures to protect themselves from the ‘inevitable’ risks of being around men.
I am grateful for this campaign and the opportunity to be part of redefining what it means to be a ‘Man of Strength’. As the Assistant Director of the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault, I have the unique opportunity to be part of the effort to end gender-based violence. Gender-based violence is 100% preventable, but it requires a shift in our culture’s rigid gender roles and norms. It requires those with power and privilege to interrupt harmful behavior, using their privilege to confront those who would abuse power.
True strength is having the courage to hold ourselves and other men to a standard of behavior that does not involve demeaning and devaluing others. I am humbled to be considered a man of strength, when so many women who have fought this fight for so long were never so recognized. It is the strength of the fierce women in my life that I hope I can come close to replicating. If I can demonstrate this same strength as a husband, as a father, as a colleague, and as a part of this movement, then I hope I can do my part to redefine what a ‘Man of Strength’ can be.