My name is Ted Rutherford and I am the founder of Responsible Men. I began developing Responsible Men in 2007 after I left teaching to work at SafePlace in Austin, Texas. It didn’t take long to realize that not many men (relatively speaking) were involved in preventing domestic violence and sexual assault. In an agency of over 100 staff members, I was one of 6 men working in either prevention or direct services. It seemed logical to me that since men are largely responsible for a long history of domestic violence and sexual assault, then men should be responsible for ending it as well (thus the name Responsible Men). I wanted to organize men and charge them with the task of repairing the long history of damage already done and challenge them to teach their sons to compassion, love, and respect for themselves and for the women in their lives.
After diving head first into the work, I quickly realized that domestic violence and sexual assault are not stand alone issues, but the biproduct of multiple forms of oppression. I came to understand that many men perpetuate (consciously and unconsciously) the various forms of oppression out of fear – mostly of existing outside the social definition of masculinity. In society, feminity is considered to have less value than masculinity. Examples – big and small – can be found throughout society. Have you heard anyone use the word “gay” to describe something they thought was stupid or weird? Have you heard anyone refer to complaining as “bitching”? In both cases a perceived negative was given a feminine label and on some level this devalues women every time it happens. Unfortunately, examples like this have become an accepted part of life. Many people are offended when they hear something like that, but they seem small enough and harmless enough to ignore. Ther are millions of examples like this that, when combined, create an extremely unlevel playing field for women. In addition, devaluing women in this and other ways make domestic violence and sexual assault possible.
So, I have made it my mission to educate men on the ways we contribute to and perpetuate sexism and violence against women and to engage and mobilize men to support one another in an effort to redefine masculinity. Under this new definition of masculinity, men will be free to be their authentic selves. We will become better partners, fathers, friends, coaches, and co-workers. We will become better people.
Please join me in this mission and invite your friends to do the same. Change is already happening.
Thanks for your time!