In the last couple of months, Australia has been rocked by a number of high-profile sexual assault/rape allegations, making a lot of women feel feel increasingly uneasy and unsafe. Now more than ever we need to be having conversations with men themselves, and work with them to change our sexist culture. One guy is trying to fix that, and has already made a massive difference.
Speaking on The Sunday Project, Hunter Johnson believes that changing men’s relationships with women starts with early intervention programs that focus on boys strengths, over deficits. His organisation called The Man Cave is focussed on training boys to become better men, through teaching them about consent, toxic masculinity and mental health.
We’ve been hearing a lot about the need for a change in the way young men handle their relationships with women.— The Project (@theprojecttv) April 11, 2021
Here’s the story of one man who’s trying to change male thinking from the inside. pic.twitter.com/8IvUtlAIHj
The Man Cave started in 2014 and since then the organisation has performed workshops with over 20,000 young men across Australia. The program even caught the attention of The Royal Family.
“It was life-changing and I’ll never forget it. Our gender is always told not to show our feelings, which can lead to suicide. Australia needs more groups like you,” a year 8 student said about the program.
Arguably, one of the reasons that The Man Cave has been so successful is that it doesn’t seek to shame men or shut them out of the conversation. Johnson talked about the need for “safe spaces” for young men in an opinion piece for The Sydney Morning Herald.
“We need to stop having conversations about young men. We need to be having conversations with them,” Johnson said.
“We urgently need to create a safe space for boys and men to enter the discussion, and to be part of the solution.
“Because when we shut out young men as a part of the solution, young men will shut themselves off from the problem.”
While it does seem controversial to approach sexual assault and violence against women in this way. It does work in helping men understand things like consent in a safe space.
We have a long way to go in achieving equality, but teaching young boys to build better relationships for themselves and others is a great first step.