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Speaker Highlight: Meet Ted Bunch, Chief Development Officer of A Call to Men

Updated: Apr 1, 2021

Each month, we choose one of our past speakers and take a look into their journey and the small steps they took in their life which led to their big goals. Ted Bunch shares with us about gender equality specifically masculinity, and manhood.

Ted Bunch, is a author, educator, activist, and lecturer working to end all forms of violence and discrimination against women and girls. Bunch is Chief Development Officer of A Call to Men and is internationally recognized for his efforts to prevent violence against women while promoting healthy, respectful manhood. He is a leading voice on male socialization, the intersection of masculinity and violence against women, and healthy, respectful manhood.

1. Ted Bunch, could you give us a brief introduction about the work you do as a gender advocate and the motivation/inspiration behind it?

A Call to Men educates men and boys all over the world on healthy, respectful manhood. Embracing and promoting a healthy, respectful manhood prevents all forms of gender-based violence. We are a violence prevention organization and respected leader on issues of manhood, male socialization and its intersection with violence, and preventing violence against all women, girls, and those at the margins of the margins. Tony Porter and I co-founded the organization nearly 20 years ago because we wanted to raise awareness of what men who do not battery or sexually assault women have in common with those who do. We recognized that in our society, men are socialized to devalue women, treat women as objects, and as the property of men. While offending individuals must be held accountable for their abusive and violent behavior, the majority of men have the power to address the larger social ill.

2. When do you decide you want to become a gender equality activist?

In 2002, Tony and I were both working as service providers with groups of men. I was the co-creator of America’s largest program for domestic violence offenders, and Tony was a leading clinician, and anti-racism activist focused on men's trauma. That’s when we found that men were the most frequent perpetrators of violence and discrimination, but women were overwhelmingly leading the work to address these issues. It was the inspiration for A Call to Men.

3. Why is important for men to be advocates and feminist allies? And how can they commit to being one?

My colleague Tony Porter just wrote a really great blog post about this topic that I would love to point your readers to. It’s called Five Questions for Men Who Want to Be Better Allies. He sums it up perfectly.

4. How can men end the “bro-code” concerning gender violence?

A Call to Men coined the term the Man Box to illustrate the collective socialization of men. The Man Box – or what you are calling the Bro Code – identifies the limitations on what a man is supposed to be and what he believes. These expectations are taught to men – sometimes unconsciously – and reinforced by society. In the Man Box, men are supposed to be powerful and dominating, fearless and in control, strong and emotionless, and successful. In the Man Box, women are objects, the property of men, and have less value than men. The teachings of the Man Box allow gender-based violence to persist. The Man Box also perpetuates a heterosexist norm that devalúes all those who don’t conform to a gender binary.

But the teachings of the Man Box don’t just hurt women, girls, LGBQ, Trans, and nonbinary folks, they are also damaging to men and boys. In 2019, the American Psychological Association released its first-ever guidelines for addressing toxic masculinity. The guidelines were based on more than 40 years of research showing that traditional masculinity is psychologically harmful and that socializing boys to suppress their emotions causes damage that echoes both inwardly and outwardly.

5. Why can’t men feel free and comfortable with vulnerability? And how can they embrace being emotional?