A Call to Men & the failure to understand perpetrators
This apology was recently given by the two founders of the organisation A Call to Men in response to an interview they gave with ESPN suggesting that Ray Rice committed a 'mistake' when the physically assaulted his then partner rendering her unconscious and dragging her out of a lift by her hair:
Our Deepest Apology:
We have been in deep reflection since our recent interview with ESPN about Ray Rice and his potential return to the NFL.
After hearing from so many of you who lead the work of the domestic and sexual violence movement and have supported A CALL TO MEN, as well as our own soul searching, we realize we were wrong to independently endorse Rice's second chance at his football career. We took action without consulting the community that we are so privileged to work for and with, and without thoughtfully considering the impact of our endorsement.
We also irresponsibly characterized Rice's actions as a "mistake." We have worked tirelessly alongside you to educate the public that domestic violence is not a mistake. Men's violence against women is a choice rooted in patriarchy and sexism, used to gain power and control over another person.
We were blinded by the possibility of making a difference in a young Black man's life who could potentially teach other young men about the impact and consequences of their choices. After intimate conversations with the Rice family, we were also overwhelmed with hope for them. We acted without upholding our own principle of having systems of accountability to ALL women.
As men who strive to be supportive allies to women, we are aware that good intentions are not enough, and we recognize and accept that male entitlement played a role in our decision to not consult those most impacted by our stance - women and more specifically, women of color.
We apologize to survivors, our partners, our board, our staff and ALL women. We take full responsibility for our statements and actions. We recommit to be more vigilant about including survivors and those most marginalized in our ongoing work as we strive to create a world where ALL men and boys are loving and respectful, and ALL women and girls are valued and safe.
To all who have been courageous and thoughtful in holding us accountable, we thank you.
Ted Bunch and Tony Porter
Founders of A CALL TO MEN
Whilst we appreciate the apology, we've a number of concerns about their statement starting with the fact that they should have "consulted with the community".
A Call to Men is not a couple of guys hanging out in their backyard. This is an organisation that has been working for YEARS with men to end male violence. They are the community.
They shouldn't need to consult with anyone to know that it takes a whole lot longer than 9 months for a perpetrator to address their issues of entitlement, privilege, and violence and take meaningful steps to change (if they actually have an interest in changing their behaviour). They should know that that emotional and psychological abuse are the most common forms of domestic violence. They should know that perpetrators are highly manipulative - that it's not uncommon for perpetrators to apologise and express contrition publicly whilst continuing to engage in abusive behaviour within the home.
Publicly forgiving a perpetrator tells their victim that we won't believe or support them should another act of physical violence occur. It tells women living with domestic violence that we don't consider emotional and psychological abuse a serious problem.
Calling domestic violence a 'mistake' is not something that anyone who has even the slightest knowledge of it should do. It's a huge red flag and not one that can simply be erased by an apology. Ted Bunch and Tony Porter need to do some serious work themselves retraining and challenging their own attitudes before working with other men.