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DAIS To Host “A Call to Men” Discussion Tonight

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Domestic Abuse Intervention Services (DAIS) will host a public screening and discussion based on A CALL TO MEN CEO Tony Porter’s influential TED Talk at Goodman South Madison Library Tuesday, May 28 at 6:00 p.m.

“This event is about cultivating new connections with men and hopefully we can figure out how to plug them in,” DAIS Prevention Coordinator Brian Benford said.

The event will build off the annual luncheon hosted by DAIS at which Porter gave the keynote address. As an author, educator and activist working to advance social justice issues, he focuses on the socialization of men and the issue of violence against women.

He has served as adviser to the National Football League, National Basketball Association, National Hockey League and Major League Baseball. He also stepped in as a script consultant for the Emmy Award-winning television series “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.”

“I think Tony Porter’s work has been so transformational in this movement for many, many years,” DAIS Executive Director Shannon Barry said.

She and Benford hope the event will raise the level of awareness of Power of One, a safe space for male allies to discuss the root causes of intimate partner violent and to work together to support the mission of DAIS. The Power of One Leadership Team will facilitate a dialogue exploring intentional way of raising boys into men who value not just women and girls but also their own authentic selves.

Barry said the organization has done work with adolescent men since 2004 but a lot of adult men wanted to serve as active and visible allies in the work. Power of One, launched in 2016, was prompted by male identified allies who wanted to get more involved in the work.

“It was really about how each individual person can make a difference,” Barry said.

She said the group of men involved do their own work, unpacking and unlearning toxic masculinity, while also planning events to engage other men in having deeper conversations. The Power of One group meets every 4th Tuesday of the month from 7-to-9 p.m. at the DAIS building.

Benford facilitates the group and welcomes men in all levels of their understanding of the issue. The structure of the group changes based on current events or topics that interest the people in the room. He said someone might want to discuss something they saw in the news relevant to gender based violence or masculinity.

“They’re always mindful about how they can support the larger organization so we always talk about those things,” Benford said.

He said he hopes tonight’s event will help with outreach, recruiting new people to help support the causes. At their meetings, the Power of One often checks in with Benford about how to support the work DAIS does with young men before diving into deep dialogue. Benford said there’s always something to discuss.

“It’s a safe place. Everyone is authentic in the room and it’s so rare that male identified folks have a venue we can go to talk about these issues,” he said.

Barry said the issue of intimate partner violence touches a lot of women. 1-in-4 women will be a victim of physical or sexual assault at the hands of an intimate partner while 1-in-7 men will experience assault sometime in their lifetime, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. In both of these demographics, men are often the perpetrators.

She said the Power of One helps connect men who are struggling in how to support the work against violence. Benford said he hopes that this might lead to monthly outreach efforts for the group, however, for now the group hopes to get men thinking about the issue.

“It’s sort of like white people trying to do anti-racist work. You have to do your own work before you can be an aspiring ally publicly so this group of men is coming together and doing their own deep work as their calling out to men to say come join us and have a conversation,” Barry said.