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'Healthy masculinity': National campaign brings anti-domestic violence message to the Oil Patch


WATFORD CITY -- A national campaign will debut in Watford City next week to encourage men in the Oil Patch to take a stand against domestic violence.

A town hall meeting called Healthy Masculinity and the Patch is set for 10 a.m. July 31 in Watford City, one of six events planned around the country by the Healthy Masculinity Action Project.

The campaign aims to prevent sexual assault and violence by engaging men as allies and encouraging men and women to discuss stereotypical gender roles, said Jennifer Weisgerber, one of the event's coordinators.

The event is organized by the North Dakota Council on Abused Women's Service in partnership with a Washington, D.C.-based organization called Men Can Stop Rape.

The North Dakota campaign has posters geared for men in rapidly growing Oil Patch communities. One features men at a bar who tell a drunk guy to back off when a woman wasn't interested.

Another shows men telling a guy searching for online escort ads that it isn't right. A third has men intervening when a friend continues to pursue an ex-girlfriend.

"These scenarios are happening," Weisgerber said.

Photographer Thomas Hatzenbuhler of Bismarck, who took photos for the campaign, said he got involved with the project to help encourage conversation about breaking out of rigid gender roles.

Instead of laughing at a dirty joke or a comment that is degrading to women, men should speak up and say that it's offensive, Hatzenbuhler said.

"Hopefully there can be some standard of behavior that is established through our posters, through our message, that it's not OK to say this," he said. "And if you do see this, it's your duty as a man to speak about that."

On Tuesday, the organizations will be offering free bystander intervention training in Watford City. Another event will be held in Fargo this fall.