Intern: Alex Collins
Summer 2012: Men's Engagement Internship
It never ceases to amaze me when I find another topic that captivates my every thought and pushes me even harder to make a change in the world. Sexual assault and domestic violence are issues close to my heart, and it’s from a family member’s past experiences that encouraged me to apply to Jane Doe Inc. I was extremely enthused when I received word that I had been hired as an intern; however, I will admit I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. I was going to be starting as an intern on the Men’s Initiative Project, and as someone who is a women’s studies minor, this perspective was going to be a new one.
Most of the women’s studies courses I have taken have focused on females. Through my work thus far at Jane Doe, I’ve learned the importance of incorporating men into the dialogue, and how violence against women isn’t just a “women’s” issue but a men’s issue as well. Working on the Men’s Initiative has been challenging at times, because I’ve had to constantly remind myself to view the material from a new perspective. It isn’t about feeling like men can’t help with the issues, nor is it about accusing men; it is about encouraging men to speak out and pledge to help end the violence. Jane Doe has helped me see that, and this new perspective has increased my knowledge on the issue, and my passion for it as well.
I was recently shown a new PSA by a fellow intern and supervisor, 1 is 2 Many, and was moved by the strong message. It follows along with the objectives of the Men’s Initiative that I’m helping with, and I loved seeing men discuss sexual assault and domestic violence. It shows how we are making an impact, and that impact is reaching so many others. Seeing so many famous men speak out against sexual assault and domestic violence was powerful for me, but also encouraging for young men who look up to those featured in the PSA as heroes, roll models, and idols.
Finishing up my fourth week of interning, I can truthfully say that I have learned more over this short time than I was expecting to learn throughout the summer. I’ve had the privilege of attending trainings and meetings, being introduced to inspirational and dedicated people each step of the way. Not only am I learning through literature, online resources, and events, but I have the chance to learn through the people I work with, including the other interns. Having such a variety of people from so many backgrounds in one office, focusing on one main issue, is powerful. Through casual discussions and comments it has allowed me to see things from multiple angles, discuss the issues we are facing, and learn new things daily.
Audre Lorde, an activist and feminist whom I look up to and respect tremendously said, “I write for those women who do not speak, for those who do not have a voice because they were so terrified, because we are taught to respect fear more than ourselves. We've been taught that silence would save us, but it won't.” I am constantly reminded of this while interning here. The work the organization does is impactful and influential, and I’m grateful to be able to take part in it this summer. I have had countless learning experiences over these past four weeks, and I’m looking forward to what the upcoming months have to bring.