Can you tell us a bit about MÄN and what you do?
Shahab: In short, we work against men's violence. We do this by engaging men, and having men as our target group. Classically, we’ve seen that the work against men's violence has been very much about strengthening the woman, protecting the woman, but how do men become part of the active work? What we have been able to do before is listen, take part in women's stories. But how do we become active? This is where we come in as the organisation MÄN. We can work against men to understand how violence is part of the male culture we are born into. Expose norms and things that happen around us without saying "but you are a bad guy" or shame someone. Doing it because we like men and at the same time say that we can take collective responsibility as a group. Because we like ourselves and want to get better, not because we want to say that someone is bad. So that's what we do, then we do it on many different levels. We have a voice in the political debate, we write articles, are in the media and are part of the public debate. We work against politicians and those in power. We have training with different methods for violence prevention. We work communicatively with social media, have support activities that i.a. contains a chat and a support reception where we talk to young guys and men. And then of course we are a member movement. Men can apply to us, get involved and become part of a positive work of change.
Our focus is to somehow be the one who extends a hand. We talk about men's violence being men's responsibility, and if we are to take that responsibility, we cannot shame. Many men may not recognise themselves in what is portrayed in the exhibition, but it is not understood that we build a culture together, a structure together, that makes the most serious violence available. It is about our common agreement as men. How do we want to be with each other and against others? What kind of culture do we want? That is something we must decide for ourselves. Therefore, MÄN must be inviting and say "come on, let's discuss this stuff so we can move forward". Cultural change is a long process.
What tips do you have for a man that wants to get involved against men's violence?
Shahab: I think the most important thing is to dare to talk about these things. Talk about it with other men in your presence, it's a good first step. And dare to be wrong. Let go of pride. I think that's what I really want to say to men. Many adults have this pride, but especially men have a certain pride that you must not be wrong. It makes us get stuck, we stop evolving. If we cannot be wrong, how can we develop? Instead of getting angry when someone points out that I have done something wrong, I can take it as a gift! "Damn nice thank you, I'm taking this with me!" It lands so much better. When someone points out that what I say is wrong, it creates a better feeling if I am ready to take responsibility and think about this. That's the best tip I think, to dare to be wrong and talk about this stuff.
Visit MÄN's website for more information about their organisation: https://mfj.se/en
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