Chico State celebrates women, but where’s the party?

Chico State University on March 8 hosted its first ever celebration of International Women’s Day. Highlighting the event was an address by Dr. Michael Kaufman, co-founder of a worldwide movement to end violence against women. Although Kaufman’s talk was enthusiastically received, he faced a disappointingly small audience.

Kaufman has traveled from his home in Toronto to communities all over the world to study the phenomenon of male violence against women. Ten years ago, he and other men founded the White Ribbon Campaign to raise awareness and activism about that violence.

The Associated Students brought him to campus to educate students about the horrible incidences of violations against women abroad—for example, the 12 brides in India who are killed daily because their dowries don’t please their husbands, the 50 percent of Sudanese women who suffer genital mutilation, and South Africa, where a woman is raped every 26 seconds.

But Kaufman also wanted to remind listeners of what goes on in their own country, where, on average, an American woman is physically abused every eight seconds and sexually abused every six minutes.

“There is bad, and there is worse,” Kaufman said. Making things better hinges on the continuing challenge of women who refuse to accept an unequal status and who force men to rethink what it means to be a man. “Men are able to be violent because they don’t feel what happens to their victims,” Kaufman said, citing a culture that encourages men to become warriors without empathy.

Unfortunately, his analysis found only a meager audience. A sliver of the Chico State community, perhaps 10 of them male, gathered in the Bell Memorial Union auditorium to hear Kaufman. The A.S. later reported attendance of about 100 people.