“Since 9/11, more women have been murdered by their husbands or their boyfriends than all the people killed in 9/11 and all of the [soldiers] killed in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.” – Activist Gloria Steinem, November 2012.
Standing together against domestic violence
When Christian Guerrier was growing up in Haiti, he saw his neighbors’ experiences divided by gender. “I would listen to women in the neighborhood talk about how the men were not able to understand their pain and suffering,” he explains.
Now, seeing that these issues exist not only in his home country but in Miami and in communities worldwide, Guerrier hosts monthly meetings where Miami men can discuss issues of gender inequity, domestic and other forms of gender-based violence, and pressures of masculinity that affect their attitudes and lives.
“We talk about becoming more humble and more true to ourselves,” Guerrier explains. “Society puts pressure on men to do things a certain way in order to be seen as manly. We want to change the culture to accept that there are many different types of men and to elevate the culture to promoting a higher type of manhood — one where men are in touch with their feminine sides and promote gender equality.”
Among Us Men meetings are a safe space where participants can be open about their experiences, beliefs, and obstacles. There, they can learn how to grow, becoming the type of men they want to see in the world and pass those lessons onto their children and fellow community members. Discussions cover a wide range of topics, including their own challenges in communicating with women, domestic violence situations they have witnessed or experienced, men and women who have inspired them, and methods of collective support.
“At the meetings, we bring awareness to the way our society treats women and girls,” explains Ishmel Williams, who has been coming to the Among Us Men meetings since the first meeting. The group is dedicated to combating the disproportionate impact domestic violence and other forms of gender-based violence have on women, both at home and abroad. “What’s important to me,” says Williams, “is that through the meetings each of us can make a difference in at least one person’s life. That’s one more person with less heartache.”
Williams has already been able to make that impact through attending the meetings. “I never thought I’d be involved in a domestic violence issue, but because of the meetings, I was able to help a very close relative become aware of the danger, and possibly loss of life, that a violent situation she was in could have lead to,” Williams shares. He ended up talking to this relative and showing her a documentary short called “Death in Plain Sight,” about homicides linked to domestic violence, that he’d seen at an Among Us Men meeting. This helped her recognize the seriousness of her situation. Many women do not have that kind of support, and it can literally save lives.
William Broadus, another Among Us Men regular, is similarly grateful for the person growth he attributes to the meetings. “I have definitely become a better man through the meetings,” he stated. “They’re non-judgmental spaces that allow you to express any challenging situations you are in and learn to distill strong values in yourself. I’ve received mentorship, inspiration, become a better communicator, and learned from other men’s stories at the meetings.” Broadus says the men at the meetings are all “real models” to each other, because rather than being perfect “role models” they show their imperfections and their strengths.
One Wing Flying
“The men of the past have made huge mistakes, and right now we’re paying for these mistakes,” Guerrier explains. “They did not acknowledge that humanity is like a bird of two wings, male and female, and if a bird is going to fly it cannot only fly with one wing. It needs both. Unfortunately, in past centuries only one wing has been flying, and as a result, humanity has never been able to reach its full potential. So our biggest challenge is to help the other wing, which is the female, so we can be equal, so the bird can fly to the next level.”
If you share this vision, have a passion for supporting women, are challenged by a domestic violence situation, or simply want to be in a group of men committed to their own growth, you are welcome to join Among Us Men and attend any meeting. “Just come in knowing you’re allowed to be yourself. We’re there for each other,” says Broadus.
The meetings take place the first Thursday of every month from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m at the Miami Dade C.V.A.C. office at 2400 South Dixie Highway.
You can follow the organization on twitter at @Better_men to stay up on what’s ahead.