Archive for May, 2012

All the people who have ever gotten into the work of preventing domestic violence, sexual violence, or even just violence in general began somewhere.

Most people began by reading a book or multiple books.

Here is a list of books that multiple advocates throughout the state of Florida have chosen as great books to read and learn about why preventing and ultimately ending this violence is so important. Books that have opened their  eyes pulled us deeper into this movement and these jobs we do.

The more we talk about this the more books that arrive on people minds….so no doubt this will be an ongoing post.

The books:

Men in Feminism  by Alice Jardin and Paul Smith

The first substantial attempt to produce a dialogue between feminists and their male allies, this collection of essays assesses the benefits or disadvantages of male participation in feminism.






Nonviolent Communication

A book on how we can begin to speak in a nonviolent way


The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell.

This is a great tool for understanding and helping others to understand social change, how it works, and why it happens.

Dragonslippers: This is What an Abusive Relationship Looks Like by Rosalind B. Penfold.

This book is one woman’s diary that she wrote/drew in cartoon format, of her experiences of being in, and getting out of, an abusive relationship.

The Toughest Cowboy: by John Frank

This is a children’s book about overcoming gender stereotypes.

Speak:by Laurie Halse Anderson

A young adult novel about dealing with the aftereffects of a trauma which a girl goes through the summer before her freshman year in high school.  She is a voluntary mute,  and we don’t find out until the end that she has been raped.

Making Social Worlds:by W. Barnett Pearce

A nonfiction book by one of the best authors and thinkers on community peace and empowerment.  It helps us understand how we create our own social worlds and relationships with others, and we need to take responsibility for creating good ones.

The Missing Piece and The Missing Piece Meets the Big O  by Shel Silverstein-


Two wonderful books talking about relationships and codependency. It also looks at the problems of power and control and being able to stand on your own, Understanding you do not need a relationship…but deciding to choose one.

The Four Agreements byDon Miguel Ruiz:

The many ideas and thoughts of what love is and what love definitely isn’t. 1 of the four agreements is to be impeccable with your word (Not using or accepting verbal abuse) Another is to not take things personally (the abuser is not abusive because of the victim)

 The LOVE book – By Leo Buscuglia

A book that changes the way we see humans, ourselves, and everyone we’ve ever said “I love you” to. A book that looks into what love is, and how loving each-other and ourselves is so important.

The 5 Love Languages-by Gary Chapmen:

I use this to speak of abuse; If your love language is words of affirmation then harmful words (verbal Abuse) would be devastating

This is the 1st installment of the many books that people have been reading to realize why it’s so important to do this work and become part of the solution rather than the problem.

If you are reading this…the “YOU” in the title is YOU.

I’d like to share with you a piece written asking men to do something about what is going on in the world!


In a time when men are stating comments about women breast feeding as equal to defecating…it’s obvious we need this.

In a time when men see no problem with telling women what they can and can’t do with their body…it’s obvious we need this.

In a time when men are deciding what kind of women can get support when they are being abused, and what kind of women can’t….it’s obvious we need this.

In a time when women are being exploited as pieces of sexual meat on stages, tv screens, movie screens, and in magazines and the majority of the people are ok with it…it’s obvious we need this.

That’s enough of my words….here are Stephen’s:


I’d like to share something I wrote recently I hope can be used to move more men to become active in supporting VAWA and the movement of men working to end men’s violence against women.


(Inspired by Martin Niemoller’s “When they came for me…”)

First, he began to tell her what to wear, and I did nothing because, obviously, he cares what she looks like.

Then, he came home from a bad day at work and told her the house looked like crap and said she was a pig, and I did nothing because it is his house, isn’t it?

Then, he started calling her bitch and stupid fat whore when he was angry,  and I did nothing because I give money to breast cancer research and wear a pink ribbon;

Then, he warned her not to go anywhere with her bitchy best friend, and I did nothing because he was just trying to protect her;

Then, when she did meet her best friend for lunch, he put his fist through the wall a foot from her head, seething with anger and spittle, and I did nothing because he did tell her not to, didn’t he?

Then, he told her not to go anywhere without him, and I did nothing because it’s not really my business;

Then, when she did, he showed her the gun he bought, and I did nothing because I am active in the peace movement;

Then, when she threatened to call the police, he told her they wouldn’t believe her, and I did nothing because the cops can handle this type of thing;

Then, when she told him she didn’t want to have sex anymore and he forced her, I did nothing because she’s his wife, isn’t she?

And then, when she said she was leaving him, he said he would commit suicide if she did, and I did nothing because it was just an idle threat;

And then when she did leave, he found her and shot her, and I did nothing because
it was too late.

And besides, isn’t there some kind of woman’s group that could have dealt with this?
Stephen McArthur
Community Outreach Coordinator & Hotline Advocate

opt 4 doing something.

Opt 4 doing anything to change the way things are going.

Being a good bystander is more than just complaining about the problem.

This is amazing!

How often little girls are taught ways to dream and live that are against true empowerment.

This is an awesome article on what Disney has done to our societies view on women, men, and the role women play in relationships and society in general.


“I Want to Live the Fairy-tale and Princess Life”: A Deeper Look Into the Portrayal of Women in Disney.

At a recent S.T.O.P (Students Trying to Oppose People Bullying and committing violence) club meeting at a local middle school we made thank you cards.

Saying thank you to people is very important and makes them feel better about their job and about people in this world in general. For more about the power of saying thank you read this.

The instructions were very simple. Write a thank you note. Sign it “The STOP club”. Give it to someone who deserves a thank you card. (Everyone deserves a thank you card.)  Not only is this a thank you card, it gives the students an opportunity to explain what the club is, what the club believes in, etc.

There were 15 students in the club. Each student took 10 thank you cards. In 1 day 155 thank you cards went out to people all over the school. Teachers, plant operators, lunch people, maintenance, administration, everyone.

The lunch workers got so tickled they said thank you thank you and posted it up so everyone could see it.

All of the teachers posted on the bulletin board for everyone to see…all 180 students. Wait…let’s think about this.  180 students per teacher saw info about the club. What a great way to get the information to stop bullying and start thanking people throughout the whole school.

One plant operator had worked there for 15 years and nobody ever said thank you to him. The thank you card that he received meant so much more than the club, and it made him cry.

Remember, when we are trying to stop domestic violence and violence in general, we have to change the whole culture…and thank you cards begin to do this.

Opt 4 thanking everyone.

Opt 4 starting a thank you card writing campaign in your school.

The power of a thank-you

A gentleman was walking through into his day of work. He hated his work. He hated his life. He hated the people at his work. He hated his boss who always told him the things her did wrong. He hated everything about his job…everyday.  He was a garbage collector.

Day in and day out her would ride in a garbage truck and put his hands in waste that nobody wanted to touch and nobody wanted to even look at.

One particularly horrible day it was raining and hailing, and he was hanging on the side of a yellow garbage truck. The rain felt like little knives on his exposed skin, and every once in a while a piece of hail smacked him in the head or the arm. Because of the wetness and the sludge that seeped out of the garbage bags, he had already slipped and fell twice. That meant another lecture from the boss and his hip hurt horribly.

On this day of days, he arrived at a pair of metal trash cans. Sitting on top of it was a card that said…thank you on the front. It was soaked and coming apart. He tried to open it, but when he did it disintegrated into his hands. The piece that was in tact said Thank you in a very nice script.  He thought it would be nice to receive one of these, but he’s a garbage man…nobody thanks you for that, you just do your job.

The next day was bitter cold, but no rain. When he came up tot he cans this time…there was another card with “Thank You” on the top. When he opened it this time it was a note that read: “Dear Garbage man…thank you.”  He showed it to the driver and he smiled, and this man smiled too. It felt good.

Everyday for 2 weeks there was a card saying thank you to the “garbage men”.

Now is this a story of some famous person who became a great famous because of this…no! In fact, it’s not about anyone you know…unless you’re on his route. This is a true story of a man who hated his life and found joy because a woman wrote a thank you card to her garbage man.  This is the story of a man who became something we all want to become: HAPPY.

That’s what thank you’s do. Thank you’s change people. Thank you’s let someone know they are appreciated. Thank you’s let people know that whatever they are doing, no matter how horrible, they are appreciated. Thank you’s let people know that there is someone who knows that whatever is going on…it’s nice to be thanked.

So, the next time you are wondering how to make someone smile or prevent violence in your community – how about a thank you card?

That thank you card might be the only thanks that the person has ever received.

Thank you to you for reading this post!

I was sitting in a meeting when I realized how violent it all was.  Interesting enough, I was in a meeting speaking about peace.

There was one person talking about “shooting” e-mails, and “shooting” out a mass “blast” of e-mails.

There was another person talking about “hits” on a website and “hitting” and smashing the other groups that were being violent.

Then there was a person who was responding to the e-mails and the website saying and speaking about that it’s a good “rule of thumb” and “killing two birds with one stone”.

As I sat through the meeting I counted up the violent phrases that we see as absolutely normal, and I was flabbergasted at the number:  2 hour meeting, 200 violent phrases (That’s 100 an hour)

Keep in mind, these are NOT violent people. These are people who are doing amazing things to teach and promote nonviolence. However, they are merely using words that they have heard, you have heard, we have all heard on a daily basis.

If we, who are trying to promote peace and nonviolence, are speaking 100 violent words an hour, imagine what is being spoken by people who don’t care to promote peace or who don’t even think about it.  Imagine what the media and TV are speaking per hour…are they just as violent?  Of course they are.

Science piece:  It has been proven time and time again that the more violence we experience, the more violence we commit. If we are hearing over 100 violent words per hour. then we watch thousands and thousands of violent pictures a day, we are encapsulated in violence every minute of every day. That is more violence than anyone can handle. Is it any wonder we live in such a violent society?

A big factor of Domestic violence is power and control and the acceptance of violence.  (Another big one is that one gender is better or above another – therefore violence is a way of correcting and putting that gender in their place – why so much gender and sexism comments are on this blog)

Acceptance of violence in our society is very big.

So the prevention committee of Pinellas county (who puts out this blog) decided to task themselves with eliminating violence in their language. This turned out to be a lot harder than anyone thought. When we first began we started slipping up almost immediately. First gave the shooting of emails then hits on a website and then hitting and pushing people to do things.  After an hour of “trying” to communicate correctly we realized – we are having a really really tough time doing this.

See, we are so connected to the violence and violent language we hear and use all the time, we don’t ever realize it’s coming out of our mouth. We speak it and teach our kids to speak it. no wonder verbal assault is so hard to stop for so many people – it’s almost cultural. (How sad is that.)

The reason paying attention to your speech is so important is that it changes the way you think. When you begin to eliminate the violent speech in your language, you begin to see the large amount of violence that is in our language in the first place.

The second step is usually finding out how much violence language is in your own speech.

The third step is the magic step, this is where you try to reform your speech. What you are actually doing, is changing the way your mind connects things to other things. Instead of a violent connection, it is now a peaceful connection. Suddenly, your eyes are opened up to the myriad of words that are available to you that are not violent and actually explain and depict what you’re saying in a better way. Not only that, when you stop and think about a nonviolent phrase, you because more conscious of what you’re saying and how you say it. When this happens you change your brain into a searcher for nonviolent phrases and inevitably nonviolence.

Just by changing the words coming out of your mouth, you change your entire brain make up. It’s amazing.

Next step…


Start paying attention to what comes out of your mouth. Try to eliminate the violent words that are coming out of your mouth.

Once we eliminate the sexist & violent words, we are 1000’s of steps closer to equality and peace, just by changing the way we speak!

Opt 4 a new way of speaking.

Opt 4 a new world view on language.



Why does it have to be like that?

My son came home and asked if I knew how to play football. Let me start out by saying, I don’t like football, I don’t play football, and I’m not too happy about the violence or view of masculinity that football promotes.  But hey, this is a teachable moment and an opportunity to spend some quality time with my son – I was definitely not going to pass this up. In the middle of conversations about passing, fumbles, and touch downs I asked him why he had never told me he was interested in football before.

His answer shook me to the core:       Because the other kids at P.E. said that I was a Faggot and an F-word idiot if I didn’t play football. They said I wasn’t a real boy and I should go play with the stupid girls because that’s where I belong.

As the tears streamed down his face, I gave him a hug. As I did that I overheard my misogynistic sexist neighbor say to his son: See that’s’ why that boy is turning out gay like that.

After all of these years trying to get people to live peacefully and for there to be equal rights between the genders,  I was right back to where I began; a snot nose kid with my masculinity in question and so was my son.

My mom made sure that respect for women and how you treat women was paramount in my raising. If I didn’t open the door for her or any other women for that matter, I felt her nails across my neck pulling me back to correct my mistake. If I even looked sideways or made a comment that suggested I had any disrespect for women, I was corrected immediately. I learned about the suffrage movement, the loss of feminine power, and the violence men dished out on a steady basis.  All that changed around 7 years old when my mother begins a relationship with a physically verbally abusive man. He was a man’s man: heavy equipment operator, cowboy, welder, hunter, beer drinking, testosterone drunk, male. What I call my “feminist education” immediately screeched to a halt.

Crying, whistling, skipping, caring for animals, feeling bad for people who got hurt, flowers, nature, and anything else that he saw was “like a girl” was eliminated immediately. If I didn’t want to eliminate it, a steady barrage of taunts, and phrases like “you’re a wous”, “little pussy”, bitch, faggot, sissy, and the one I got called the most – “momma’s boy”, flew at me with reckless abandonment. These phrases would follow me through the yard, through the doors, through the walls, and into the fights he would have with my mother about me. According to him, I was the worst kind of boy there was – “a girlie boy”.

After the taunts didn’t work to his satisfaction, the physical attacks began. It began simply enough, a smack on the back to say hello that almost dropped me to my knees. A punch in the arm that pushed four steps away to make sure I got a joke. The “two hits for flinching” game. The “hurts don’t it” game. Then at 10 came the true male education: boxing, football, wrestling and shooting.

 Step 1: Watch the game.  We sit down and I do a lot of watching him drink and yell at the TV. Then we glorify the violence on TV by slapping and hitting each other.

Step 2: Learn the rules while playing the game.  He tells me a small amount of rules of the game, we begin playing and I am advised of the rules as I get hit, beat, and thrown around the yard.  But I must always remember the more violent the better.

Step 3: Shoot and destroy Barbie. This was practice for hunting. If I could destroy Barbie with a dart gun, then I moved up weaponry until I was blasting barbies out of the air with a 12 gauge shotgun.

Throughout this education, good learning and proper manly actions were rewarded with a smack on the back that usually took my breath away and bad learning and actions were chastised with more taunts and intimidation. To put the intimidation into perspective, he was a 6 foot 7 construction worker and I was a 5 foot tall skinny middle school student.

Now my mother was a very strong woman so she added constantly to my education and my understanding of the world; and now that I look back on it all, I see that she said the right things at the right time to make me hear her over all of the “masculine” nonsense. But in her own words, she wanted someone just like her father and for a very long time she was comfortable with all of the abuse. It was like she had finally found the home she had been kicked out of at 15. Her father threw her out of the house by her hair for getting pregnant; ironically she lost the baby because of all of the stress. So she was powerless to stop him and his violence because she saw it as just boys being boys. If she said anything, she was put in her place through taunts, intimidation, and abuse. In the end, she just hugged me and told me she loved me. As much as I had been taught that hugging and lovey stuff was for girls, it was always something I took advantage of when I could get it.

My masculine education ended when I was thrown out of a window for defending another boy. My mother, I, and her boyfriend were sitting in the living room watching TV. It was a week away from my high school graduation and a newsflash came on, back when we got our news and information from the TV and not the internet. Somewhere in the Midwest a high school kid about the same age as I was openly stated he was gay. Now, I had been taught by my mother that “some boys date girls, some boys date boys, and some girls date girls” and that was that. He had never said anything about people that were gay; even though he used all the derogatory words for gay men, I never associated them with people who were gay.  I had always seen who someone dates as their choice and nothing more.  The 18 year old was jumped by a group of guys,  drug behind their pickup truck, tied to a barbed wire fence, peed on and had beer poured all over him. His wounds were so extensive that by the time they found him he had bled to death. It floored me that someone could be so cruel.

“That’s what he deserved. That’s what they should do with all them fudge packers. Damn faggots!” was the words that came out of his mouth. I can hear them as clearly now 20+ years later as that night. I spoke up, yelled, screamed, and the fight was on. In the end, I landed in a pile of glass outside my living room, and he landed himself in a drunk tank for 3 days. I left my house and all that behind till I was staring in the face of a little girl and a book mark.

At age 33, I was a divorcee, the proud father of an awesome daughter, and starring at a book mark that was being held by my girlfriend. As my small child stood there smiling, my girlfriend read off the things that were on this book mark that she said described me. As she read them, I informed her of why I did the things I did.

“tries to control me” – No I don’t. I just know the way to do things better than you do.

“is possessive” – that’s’ what dating is about. You are MY girlfriend.

“makes all decisions” – Because I know the right decisions and you don’t. If you did it would be different.

“keeps me from seeing my friends and family” – They annoy me, so if I keep them away from US. Plus, every time you go see them they say horrible things about me.  You don’t see my friends doing that, do you? Plus, why wouldn’t you want to hang out with me instead?

“always blames me” – Stop doing things to be blamed for them.

“minimizes things that are going on” – That’s because you’re an emotional  girl and make too much of things.

“threatens to leave me if I don’t do what I’m told” – Yeah, if we’re not getting along then the relationship isn’t working. Duh!

“makes me cry” – You’re a girl…an emotional mess. You decide to cry. I don’t make you do anything.

Then she read the bottom: If you recognize any of these warning signs, you are probably in a abusive relationship. She looked at me and said, guess what you’re an abuser. What? How did this happen? The one thing I was trying to avoid. The one thing I was running away from. How did I get here?  Then my daughter saw that I was getting angry and started crying. I yelled, “Stop crying. You have nothing to cry about! Crying is stupid!”  She cried more and I yelled more. I walked past the mirror and there I was – the exact man I never wanted to be.

My 3 year old cried herself to sleep and I later went in to check on her. As she lay there with her tear stained pillow and cheeks I picked up a pink Barbie notebook filled with scribbles and flipped to a blank page. I began writing down the characteristics of the type of man I wanted my little girl to marry. I wanted her to marry a man just like me, but the characteristics I put down were not the man I was. They were the man I could have been. They were of the man I wanted me to be. That night the girlfriend left, and I am glad she did. Her parents raised her right; raised her to see when she was in an abusive relationship, even if it didn’t involve physical violence. I think the bookmark was all she needed to remind her of whom she was and where she didn’t need to be. My life and the way I lived it changed that night.

I hugged my little boy tighter and tighter. I pulled him close to me and gave him a great big kiss, all the things that the “bro code” says I’m not supposed to do to a man or a boy. As his face smooshed into my chest, I cried. I cried because I knew where he was. I cried because I knew how he felt on that school field. I cried because he would have to go through all of this and it’s not any easier looking on this side of growing up then his side. I cried because he should be allowed to be exactly that wonderful, imperfect boy he is; the same boy we all are. I cried because I don’t want him to be judged or pushed into thinking a certain way.  I cried because no matter what I say to him, his peers will push, punch, and yell louder.  I cried because this isn’t the first time he has been judged for his masculinity. I cried because his sisters will be forced to be with men like those boys that made him hurt, and they will hurt them.  I cried because I wish I had a Dad like me. I cried because it doesn’t have to be this way.

But I honestly wonder why does this exist? Why is it that men need to live in this shell of violent masculinity? Why do so many men see this as the right way to be? Why do so many men uphold this power and control driven way of being? Why must men force other men to be “just like them”? Where did men see this as the right way of being?  I’m fortunate to have seen firsthand what boys experience unconsciously and there is a need to prevent this type of brain washing and sexist socialization.

No, I don’t have all the answers. No, I don’t even have the answers to all of my questions.   But I do know a solution; a solution that all of us men can use. I took hold of my son’s shoulders and we wiped each other’s tears away. I told him what he needed to do:

You need to be a real man! A real man has empathy for others, feels his emotions, and wants to help others in trouble no matter what that trouble is. Real men look for ways to promote nonviolence and uplift all people. Real men look for solutions to the problems the world is having right now. Real men don’t bully, demean, or use violence; those things have never helped the world. Real men educate other men about respect, kindness and empathy. Remember, respect is treating others how THEY want to be treated, as long as it’s not violent. Real men stand up for what is right, even when everyone else is doing the wrong thing.  Real men use their knowledge and their strength to help and assist women, not lead and control them.  As we walked into the house I pondered the questions I still hadn’t answered. But you know, if all men stood up, spoke up, and began being a “real man” – I wonder if those questions wouldn’t become obsolete….I’d like to think so.

Besides this awesome blog…lol..there is another site that needs to be talked about.


Their motto:

Together, youth, adults, and the community can create a better world for all. When you shine the light of positive action, you help everyone down the path to peace.

There is such truth in that!

As a teen the world of healthy relationships is a vast and scary place.  No matter how much you have people like me in your face talking about healthy relationships, there’s always going to be a person that comes into your life to create emotions, feelings, and thoughts that contradict and confuse you about healthy relationships.

That’s why PARK is there.

Park speaks to every teen who has a question.

PARK speaks to every teen that has a problem.

What do I mean speak….I mean speak. You can e-mail and talk to the PARK crew about problems you’re having, violence in your community, and ways to prevent domestic violence.

Not only will they help you, they will also guide you to the healthiest decision that you can get to. However, this isn’t a place where young sounding adults are answering and e-mailing, on the contrary – it’s teens speaking to teens.

PARK is a place like no other, and a place every person should check out.   So do it today!

Opt 4 talking to every friend you have about healthy relationships.

OPt 4 helping everyone out.

OPT 4 focusing everyone into a nonviolent way of thinking.


We must end bullying!

There are too many deaths because of bullying.

A young woman made the following video and it should be widely circulated. It is a story that could be anyone…and it is reality for many many students.

Most people just want to be accepted for who they are – this does not happen as children, as middle school students, as high school students or as adults.  This is because of us.

You may’s not my fault.

Yes.. it is all of our faults.

We must raise our children that this sort of debasement of others is wrong!

We must speak out to every child we know and say…Stop BEING SO MEAN!!!!

We know the old saying – Kids are mean. But that doesn’t have to be our reality.

Remember – Bullying is another form of power and control. It is very very likely that the bullies of today are abusers of tomorrow.  Stopping bullying and stopping this power and control addiction that the human race has will solve so many problems.

Watch this video…when it’s done DO SOMETHING!!!


Usually through the course of this blog I have condemned magazines and advertisers who have used sexism and objectification to increase their sales.

Definition of sexism: The belief that one sex (usually the male) is naturally superior to the other and should dominate most important areas of political, economic, and social life. Sexist discrimination in the United States in the past has denied opportunities to women in many spheres of activity.

This includes ads that depict women and girls as objects and things to be used rather than the living breathing humans that they are. This also includes ads and articles that focus on the use of only one body part as a sexual “thing”

With that said, I’d like to take a moment and commend a few magazines for doing exactly the opposite of that.

A magazine concerned and focuses on Cars, things cars can do, and things that fit into cars. A magazine that showcases how to make cars run better and uses advertising that is geared towards cars and mechanics.

A magazine dedicated and focused on raising your truck or car as high as you can to get over the brush and mud that stands in your way. A magazines that talks about, shows how to’s, and ideas of making you a better 4 wheel driver. In addition to this, it explains how to 4 wheel with respect to nature and places you can go throughout the states.

A magazine dedicated and concerned with the sport and art of martial arts. As much as I’m not a proponent of violence, this magazine does not focus on a need for violence. Instead, it focuses on the need for control of your body and mind in order to perfect your body and mind while at the same time being able to defend yourself when it is needed. This magazine chooses advertising and articles that are connected to this sport and art, and only shows you the ideas that can make you better in it.

Rolling Stone Magazine depicts industry news, artist highlights, and interviews about artists and innovator throughout the music industry. Though the industry is full of sexism and objectification, the magazine is surprisingly devoid of it. The advertisers and articles depict ways of improving the art and the industry itself, as well as social issues that need to be spoken about.


These magazines have decided to put in only pictures and depictions that show women and men being exactly as they are: people.

Stereotypically when we think of cars, 4 wheeling, and music (especially rock and roll) magazines we think of women in scantily clad clothing dripping and displayed in grotesque sexist ways. That arcane norm of exploitation is refreshingly absent from all of these magazines.

GOOD JOB Road and Track!

GOOD JOB Four Wheeler

GOOD JOB Black Belt

GOOD JOB Rolling Stone


As I always ask that you write letters and make yourself heard about the sexist exploitation of men and women in magazines….

I now ask you to write letters and make your voice heard saying..Thank you…to these magazines for not lowering themselves to this type of degradation. Thank You for doing so!

Do you know of any magazines that should be commended?



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