V-Men workshop Saturday will seek men's input

Published: Thursday, April 1, 2010 at 7:44 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, April 1, 2010 at 7:44 p.m.

The Vagina Monologues speaks from a woman's perspective. Now, Eve Ensler is looking to write a new play. This one, however, will be from the male perspective.


If you go

What: Victory Over Violence is hosting a V-Men workshop for men to discuss men's issues.

When: nooon to 1:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Ustler Hall, next to the Student Recreation and Fitness Center on the University of Florida campus

Who: Any male in the community is invited to attend.

Why: Men will be asked to discuss their views on violence against women and what it means to be a man. Eve Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues, is writing a new play, “10 Ways to Be A Man,” and is looking for male input.

For more information: E-mail victoryoverviolenceUF@gmail.com or visit the V-men Web site http://www.vday.org/meet-vday/v-men

The University of Florida's Victory Over Violence group is working in conjunction with Peaceful Paths, a domestic abuse network, to hold an open forum workshop for men, run by men.

From noon to 1:30 p.m. Saturday in Ustler Hall on the UF campus, men from the community have been invited to take part in a workshop where their voices will be heard. The common themes of their conversation might even appear in a play within the next few years.

Jenna Calton, president of UF's VOV and a women's studies and psychology junior at UF, said the workshop will focus on three themes.

“How are masculinity and femininity defined? What do they mean?” Calton asked. “What does it mean to be a real man versus a strong man? What does it mean to be a real man? And, focus on violence against women and girls.”

Women are not going to be present at the event, which is being promoted on the V-Day Web site. "V-Day is a global movement to stop violence against women and girls," where the "V" stands for "stands for Victory, Valentine and Vagina."

Calton looked to the community for moderators to facilitate the workshop.

VOV found John Jasinski, an advocate at Peaceful Paths, and Joe Johnson, from the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce and board member for Peaceful Paths, to facilitate.

Jasinski said violence against women has many issues and is an important subject to address.

“Men are going to have perspectives that differ from women, and they definitely have a role to play in making change," said Jasinski. "I think it's important for men to get together to feel the freedom or liberty to talk about issues like this. It's not something that comes up in everyday conversation. It's not something that's viewed or talked about a lot.”

Those with VOV hope for a large turnout. They want men to participate, much like women did before The Vagina Monologues.

Lorraine Wheat, PR representative for VOV and senior advertising student at UF, jumped at the chance to work on V-Men.

“I can't believe she (Eve Ensler) didn't think of this in the beginning of the movement,” Wheat said.

Workshop attendees will speak about their experiences for “10 Ways to Be a Man,” offering insight into how men feel about violence against women and how they define masculinity.

“I don't even know what to expect, because we've never done anything like this,” Calton said. “This is the first time that we're getting men together to talk about these concepts. It's not for class, it's not for credit, and it's getting men together because they want to be there. There's no way of gauging how much of an impact this will have.”

For Johnson, he and his family have been personally affected by violence against women.

“My ex-wife was a victim of domestic violence. From that day forward, I vowed to help stop the cycle of violence,” Johnson said.

Part of his vow included his activism with Peaceful Paths; he has been on the board of directors since the early 1990s.

“I'm glad the university is doing this because a lot of the stuff that happens with young ladies happens at the college and high school level,” Johnson said. “A lot of girls don't report it because they don't want to be looked at in a different light.”

One phrase that Johnson often hears is, “I'm the man.”

With this workshop, men will learn about the cycle of abuse and how often women are abused, Johnson said.

And Johnson wants men to understand:

“Real men respect women. Real men cherish what women bring to the relationship. Real men do not take something that is not offered freely and lovingly.”

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