Ted Bunch Tries To Stamp Out Sexism, One Abuser At A Time

Illustration for article titled Ted Bunch Tries To Stamp Out Sexism, One Abuser At A Time

Ted Bunch is one of the co-founders of A Call To Men and runs the Domestic Violence Accountability Program of Safe Horizon. His program, based in New York, only accepts men referred by the court system as a condition of probation because he got sick of seeing men attend to prove to their girlfriends that they've changed and to get out of doing time. But he doesn't run a counseling service or provide group therapy to guys who have beaten their partners — his program is about understanding sexism as a man.Bunch's group sessions involve a male and a female leader who don't take crap from their attendees and call them out when they say sexist things. They discuss everything from why a man would refer to grown women as "girls", to why catcalling is not a compliment to the women abusers additionally tend to harass, and any other sexist acts women are stuck dealing with on a daily basis. The men are asked to think about sexism as another way of exerting dominance over others, in the same way many of them have experienced being harassed by the police based on the color of their skin. Bunch doesn't fool himself that he's changing many minds — his advise to victims of abuse is to expect the same abuser back no matter how much he promises that he's changed — but he figures that maybe getting them to think about sexism and to be held strictly accountable for attending the classes (at the risk of being jailed) is a start. Bunch probably wouldn't self-identify as a feminist, but he says such wonderfully feminist things like:

Calling [violence against women] a woman's issue serves men because then men don't have to get involved in it. We need to start re-framing it, holding men accountable, changing the language so we have to start looking at our statistics in a different way like what you'll see if you Google "domestic violence" is "domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women." That talks about the victim, but it doesn't say anything about the perpetrator.


He also thinks we should all start saying "the leading cause of injury to women is men's violence." It's Bunch's combination of cynical resignation about the men he serves and his hopeful idealism about the society he'd like to change that makes him — and the work he's trying to accomplish — so fascinating. Class Teaches Respect for Women to Batterers [WNYC.org] Related: A Call To Men Safe Horizon's Domestic Violence Accountability Program


Erin Gloria Ryan

I'm a little ashamed that I never thought of domestic violence the way that he's framed it. Does heaven know that he's missing?