Male allies standing up with women

Dr Matthew Klugman (Damjan Janevski) 222477_01

Goya Dmytryshchak

The photo of AFLW star Tayla Harris’s famous airborne kick, at first attracting trolls and now immortalised with a bronze statue, is a prime example of how things can be turned around.

Men across Melbourne‚Äôs west are sharing their stories of what it means to be an “ally” in the fight against gender-based violence in a YouTube video created by Victoria University.

VU sports historian Matthew Klugman features in the video, Tips for Allyhood: Working together to end violence against women.

He recalls one instance of standing up for a female student at an overseas conference.

“A student was giving a presentation at a conference and a big name in the field really harangued her at the end of it and no one did anything,” Dr Klugman said.

“So, I went and spoke with her and asked if it was OK if I followed it up and she was OK with that. And then I went and spoke with him.

“It didn’t seem something that he would have done to a young man and it had clearly shaken her. It was pretty appalling.”

Dr Klugman said there were aspects of masculinity that men needed to work on.

“We see it in terms of people at sports events saying, ‘You kick like a girl’ or the various insults that might be called at male players, such as ‘pussy’,” he said.

“I tell my students that if they want to get a sense of how unequal the world is, just look at social media and look at the way people react to female athletes as opposed to male athletes.

“Tayla Harris is a great example. A classic kicking action, beautiful kick, wonderful photo by Michael Wilson, and all these people come and start making crass, sexist comments demeaning it.”

The video features men talking about the meaning of “allyhood” and emphasise that it doesn’t mean being a “white knight” and standing up for women, but rather “standing up with women”.

“It’s not asking men to ride in and save the day, it’s asking them to start doing work in various ways but a key part of that work being listening,” Dr Klugman said.

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Peter Dawkins, said the video was part of a recruitment drive to recruit men at VU and across the west.

“We know the prevalence and impact of gendered violence and we have an evidence base regarding best practice in both responding to and preventing this violence,” he said.

“All that is left to do is to act.”

The video was made by HealthWest Partnership for use by many organisations across the region.

Watch the video at: youtu.be/A10BNsVzlzk