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The University of Regina is hosting the Man Up Against Violence campaign from Oct. 27 to 31. The student-led initiative is organizing a series of speakers and on-campus to raise awareness around domestic abuse and promote healthy masculinity.


“(Domestic abuse) doesn’t have the awareness that it needs, creating more awareness is always better, but this being a man’s issue I think it sometimes gets neglected,” said volunteer Todd Jones.


“Typically if you’re man the ideal of a man is to have your chest puffed and we’re saying it doesn’t have to be that, you can be kind you can gentle and you can be respectful towards women,” said the campaign’s athletic representative, Addison Docherty.


Docherty said that traditionally only women have spoken out about domestic abuse. He hopes the campaign will assist in changing that mind set and include men in the conversation.


“If you’re not questioning what the man is doing, then you’re not getting anywhere.”


To do this, the campaign encourages men to support the message about domestic violence. However, many women also participate in the campaign.


“As a woman you can never truly know what it means to be a man and only a man knows that. Men speaking to men is a good way to show a healthy relationship and healthy masculinity,” said volunteer Brandie Magee. “Women like me are supporting our peers and helping them spread the awareness.”


Magee adds that the campaign also has a strong message for women. “It’s important as a woman not to think of men in a negative way and that they actually have a lot of power to change what is happening,” she said.


According to Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile, 2011, Saskatchewan has the highest rate of domestic abuse than any other province and twice that of the national average.


Docherty said the campaign is paying special attention to U of R’s athletic teams. He said that with the recent abuse scandals in major league sports it’s an important conversation to have.


“It’s a good mediator for talking about violence against women. When we’re dealing with the athletes we talk about what’s expected in sport like aggressiveness and competitiveness and ... how people take those same ideals and they apply them to their relationship outside of sport,” he says.


The campaign has organized events including panel discussions with gender experts and a screening of the documentary Tough Guise 2: Violence, Manhood and American Culture. The keynote speaker, Jackson Katz, will give a presentation on Oct. 30.


Organizers say they weren’t sure what to expect, it being the campaign’s first year, but they’re very happy with the response.


“It’s been very well received, we're seeing lots of our toques and shirts all over campus and it's only getting more popular,” said Jones. He added that some classes will even be using class time to see Katz’s presentation.


However, Docherty said there is still room for improvement. While he is very pleased with the turnout he wishes more men would commit to the cause. He said that there is too much of what he calls passive resistance. Many men are supportive and pleased with the message of men taking on domestic abuse, but many are still not yet applying the principles.


Docherty said that men face a lot of pressure to be manly and keep loyalty with other men, which can make the transition difficult, however the campaign is promoting a step in the right direction.

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