A Letter to the Men of our Community

A letter to the men of our community, from the YWCA’s CEO and the men of the YWCA’s Board of Directors:

We are concerned for boys and young men.

We are concerned they are seeing short-sighted, vitriolic, partisan rhetoric eclipsing thoughtful conversations that could lead to the end of sexual assault;

that the self-image of too many is being shaped by the drumbeat of messages that minimize victimization, diminish women, excuse abuse, and reinforce ideas of entitlement and privilege;

that they are growing up in an environment where the treatment of women remains unequal, yet acceptable in too many places;

that masculinity is too often depicted for them only in terms of power and strength; and

that the world they live in is not teaching them about the dignity and humanity of every person.

We are concerned because it is exactly this that has created the epidemic of violence against women that divides our community into two worlds. One for men. Another one for women, filled with caution and limitation. The result: assailants rape nearly one in five women. One in four women is physically abused by their intimate partner. One in six women has had a stalker threaten to harm her.

This cannot continue.

This should not continue.

It is true that the long arc of the moral universe bends toward justice. However, it does so only because it is bent by those who choose to work for justice. It is possible to bend that arc more sharply – to accelerate the end of violence against women – if more men commit to that effort.

For generations, women have worked to create a just world for victims and survivors. That effort has fundamentally reshaped much of our society, our roles, and our laws. We are honored to be a part of an organization that has led the way and to work with women whose vision and expertise have brought us so far.

At the same time, we recognize that men must come to see and be seen as more than allies. Men must become activists. Men can embrace and learn from the accomplishments of women and create a groundswell that reshapes how we define manhood; how we raise our sons; how boys are taught to value women and girls; and how, in concert, we build a more just, equal world for everyone.

For the tens of thousands of survivors in our community who have shared their stories and have endured the news of the last few weeks, know this.

You are heard.   You are believed.   We stand with you.

#MeToo     #TimesUp     #WhyIDidntReport     The refrain heard in each has been an invitation to men. To see the scale of this epidemic. To use one’s voice. To become part of the solution. We are a part of the YWCA because we believe that change is not only possible, it is required. Change – not just for our sons, but for all of us. This is our call to action.


Charisse Mitchell, CEO


Bryan Houck, Member


Sherwin Robinson, Secretary


Steve Waugh, Member


Doug Wilterdink, Immediate Past President