A Call To Men is an organization that encourages educating men and boys with the goal of teaching them to be more respectful of women and to reduce violence against women and girls. Cases of domestic violence have risen throughout the coronavirus pandemic, making A Call To Men’s work particularly important right now. We recently spoke with Anna Marie Johnson Teague, Chief Communications Officer at A Call to Men - we discussed understanding and practicing healthy manhood, the organization's anti-racism work, and their new book The Book of Dares: 100 Ways for Boys to be Kind, Bold, and Brave.
“You see, you can’t be anti-sexist without also being anti-racist.”
Anna Marie Johnson Teague,
Chief Communications Officer at A Call to Men
What were some of A Call To Men priorities for this year and how did you adapt your goals to the global health crisis?
We are living in a monumental, historic moment. One that our children’s children will learn about in school. A reckoning. A great awakening for many. And an opportunity for everyone to face systemic inequity and injustice with courage, resolve, and a commitment to change. Our work at A Call to Men seeks to end gender-based violence and discrimination and address intersectional oppression at its roots. We intentionally look to those “at the margins of the margins” to articulate their own lived experience and help define solutions that will be effective in their lives. When we center our attention and efforts on those folks, it is our belief that everyone will benefit. This philosophy holds true for any anti-oppression work—and is especially relevant as we look at both gender and race in America in 2020.
Image via acalltomen.org
The greatest opportunity we see right now is to use our work promoting gender equity as a model for those who want to promote racial equity. You see, you can’t be anti-sexist without also being anti-racist. For decades, A Call to Men has mobilized hundreds of thousands of male-identified aspiring allies to women and girls. We have called them into this work, while holding them accountable, and educated and empowered them to speak out against and take action to prevent gender-based violence and discrimination. And we can do the same for those who want to be aspiring allies to Black people and other people of color. The events of 2020 have created a turbulent climate and forced us to re-envision how we create impact. The mandate for physical distancing has prevented us from providing in-person training for most of this year and will continue to shape how we gather for years to come. Yet, A Call to Men remains committed to serving our communities, providing training to prevent gender-based violence, and looking at this moment as an opportunity for transformation. Domestic violence is spiking globally. Men’s mental health challenges are rapidly rising. And we know that our work is needed now more than ever. We have pivoted in monumental ways to serve our community and are working virtually to create a more just world.
A Call To Men just published a new book named The Book of Dares: 100 Ways for Boys to be Kind, Bold, and Brave. Tell us a little more about it - what was the writing process like and what is the main message of the book?
The Book of Dares is a collection of 100 original dares that will help boys expand their worldview, inspire more respect toward girls and non-binary kids, and generally develop a healthier idea of manhood. The book features a voice intro to draw readers in, plus an afterword that's both a call to action and a resource for parents and educators. The Book of Dares is grounded both in practical parenting strategies and 20-years of A Call to Men’s work with men and boys to promote a healthy manhood, authenticity, and gender equity. Many of the dares are things we did and are doing with our own children. For example, dare to think about a song’s lyrics is something we do frequently. When my son was 12, I remember driving with him, and a popular song came on the radio. My son was singing along, and I knew he didn’t really know what he was saying. He just liked the beat. So, I asked him to pull up the lyrics and check them out. We walked through them line by line and talked about the positive aspects of the song – how the singer had overcome serious obstacles in his life – poverty and violence. We also were able to discuss the negative aspects of the song – objectifying women and treating them like property. We are not advocating for censorship. We want to teach young people to be conscious consumers so they can first, be aware of what they are watching and listening to, and second, make intentional decisions about how that content is affecting their beliefs and actions. The Book of Dares is a direct answer to parents' cries for building healthy manhood, respect, and emotional literacy in their sons.
Image via acalltomen.org
What do you think are some of the positive changes in regards to masculinity and male behavior, and what do you think are some challenges that society needs to keep on improving?
We are inspired by the number of young people who have come forward and are leading the charge for gender and racial justice. We are seeing real progress. Young men see how culture is trying to box them in but want to do things differently. They see that there’s room for equality without anyone having to lose anything. They see that there’s no one way to be a boy and they are bravely charting their own course. Not always without consequence — but with conviction. Understanding and practicing healthy manhood is the solution to eradicate sexism and inequality. It’s the solution to prevent violence in our communities — from domestic violence and sexual assault to mass shootings and male suicide. It’s the solution that will allow our boys to be their authentic selves. Healthy manhood relieves men and boys of a lifetime of trying to measure up, of trying to be man enough, of endless performance, and constant suppression of emotion — all at the expense of women, girls, LGBQ, trans, and gender non-conforming people — as well as themselves. It’s time to rise up. It’s time to move forward. And it’s time to let our deep love for humanity lead us from this fractured and broken place where people act out of fear, pain, and scarcity, to create a world where everyone can be themselves — where everyone can be safe — where everyone is valued.
What are some upcoming events and activities that A Call To Men is planning?
A Call to Men is offering virtual training for individuals and organizations. You can search our current offerings here: https://www.acalltomen.org/events/ or reach out to me at email@example.com to talk about custom training.
Subscribe to the NYXT newsletter
Learn about upcoming events, volunteer opportunities, and new organizations looking for your help.