The newly-minted student group Male Athletes Against Violence (MAAV) is looking to create accountability among male athletes and to change locker room culture and more generally campus culture with regard to issues of violence based on gender and sexuality.
Matt Carey ’11, Cody McKinney ’11 and Eric Barthold ’12—all varsity athletes playing soccer, hockey, soccer and alpine skiing respectively—were in Professor Mark Tappan’s Boys to Men education class in the fall, and were struck by the topic of sexual violence. “A lot of [the class] was talking about masculinity and masculine identity….The discussion about sexual harassment and the culture on [college campuses], and the fact that it is a prominent issue... struck a chord with us,” Carey said of the first push to start the group. Tappan told the class that a group called Male Athletes Against Violence existed at the University of Maine at Orono, and Carey, Barthold and McKinney were immediately interested in starting a similar group at Colby.
The inchoate group sees its immediate goals as recruiting members and holding events to raise awareness and educate people about sexual and gender-based violence. The three leaders want to reframe the dialogue about gender and sexual violence, positing it as a men’s issue (not just a women’s issue) and maintaining that change in campus and locker room culture will come from students holding each other accountable for their actions. Though the focus is on male athletes specifically, because of their visibility and the negative stereotypes surrounding them, one need not be a male or an athlete to join MAAV.
Carey said the mission of the group is to treat issues of violence based on gender and sexuality, whether sexual violence, harassment, verbal violence, homophobic violence or intimidation, not solely as a women’s issue, but as a men’s issue. “There have been initiatives made against sexual harassment and sexual violence but [the initiatives] come from the women’s group. But it’s a two sided issue and men need to be accountable,” Carey said. “I don’t know if I’m speaking for most men, but [sexual violence] is not something you always hear about. It is something people are uncomfortable talking about. We’re not going to talk down to you, but we want you to understand this is an issue.”
Already, MAAV has reached out to men’s athletic team captains, who have been overwhelmingly supportive. “When we [Barthold, McKinney and Carey] started working [to form MAAV] in December…every single men’s team on campus said they would be on board…there was a genuine buzz,” Carey said.
A major component of belonging to MAAV is signing a pledge, which creates accountability amongst teammates to not engage in violence, which is especially for captains who carry influence in their teams. Members of MAAV pledge not to engage in violence and to hold people engaging in such acts accountable for their actions. “By having [accountability] come from the captains…the person you respect the most in your team, we hope that…[members of MAAV] are going to honor [the pledge],” McKinney said.
MAAV will be tabling on March 14, selling bracelets with the MAAV insignia. Proceeds will help to fund the fledgling club and will also go to a battered women’s shelter or to the rape crisis center. This will provide a chance for MAAV to recruit members and to get the word out on the mission of the group. On March 31, as part of the celebration dinner for Women’s History Month, members of MAAV will be meeting with Trustees with whom they will discuss training programs for issues of gender and violence.
MAAV sees itself working with other groups on campus to change campus culture with regard to sexual and gender violence. McKinney is participating in a panel titled Gender, Power and Community at 7:00 in Page on March 9. In April, MAAV, working in conjunction with the Women’s Group, will be taking part in the Take Back the Night March, a rally against sexual violence. Already, members of various men’s athletic teams are on board to participate.
Later this semester, Carey, Barthold and McKinney hope to provide training sessions for members in issues of gender and violence so that MAAV can lead a seminar for First Year Orientation in the fall.