“You Can’t Change That”

I had an interesting discussion a few weeks back with friends on the domestic violence case with Ray Rice and the NFL. I have my own strong opinions, but it’s always compelling to hear someone else’s thoughts on any given subject. I won’t go through the whole back and forth discussion, but one thought stood out to me.

As we talked, I voiced my opinion on changing the way society thinks about domestic violence, rape, and crimes against women. Instead of telling our daughters to watch their drinks, to dress a certain way, or beware of certain situations, we need to teach our sons not to commit these crimes in the first place. Violence against women is not a woman’s problem in that we are not the ones hurting ourselves. Until we shift this conversation on the men who are committing these crimes instead of blaming the victims, there will be little change.

The all too often said ridiculous statement was then uttered by a friend, “that’s just the way men are, you can’t change that.”

I wholeheartedly disagree with that statement. Firstly, that statement is also grossly selling men short – as if the gender as a whole is unable to control themselves and must commit these crimes. If we don’t believe a group of people or society as a whole can change, or if everyone in this world thought like that, nothing would get done. If we thought like that, the civil rights movement would not have happened. If that was the case, women would not have the right to vote in the United States. The thought that we can’t change society is mind-boggling to me.

Changing a culture, and changing society is possible. It’s the lazy way out to say that “you can’t change that.” That statement is wrong. One person can spark a movement of people who can cause a movement of change. Those courageous people in Ferguson, Missouri are not standing in solidarity and protesting for nothing. They are standing for justice; for change not just in Ferguson, but in society. A change in how black men and women are treated in this country.

Circling back to the original statement – men are not born with the natural instinct to inflict violence on women (mental disabilities aside). That is something that is taught, just as a person isn’t born racist. If we change society to teach our boys and young men that you do not own a woman’s body, we can change the way violence against women happens.

I may be pessimistic about certain things, but in this case I truly believe can create enough to change to alter the way society thinks and acts. No, everyone will not change, but progress is the word here. Reaching one family to change the way they tell their son to behave and treat women is a victory itself. Imagine if 50 people went about campaigning for this change, how many people could they possibly reach? In turn how many people would those that were changed reach? It’s about creating a cycle of change. If we all thought that way, human rights in this world would never be achieved.

I urge whoever I can reach with this blog post to get out there and make a change, and make a difference. Don’t fall back on the “that’s the way it is, you can’t change that,” way of thinking.

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