Ben Atherton-Zeman will be on campus this Friday, November 4, to speak to Swarthmore students about sexism and violence prevention and to perform his show “Voices of Men.” The play addresses issues of sexual assault, dating and domestic violence, objectification, and sexual harassment in order to raise awareness of and end violence against women. Ben, who identifies as a “recovering sexist,” is a spokesperson for the National Organization for Men Against Sexism and has spent the past seventeen years working as a prevention educator for rape crisis centers, domestic violence programs, and state coalitions.
Atherton-Zeman’s performance is sponsored by Swarthmore Feminists. Lisa Sendrow ’13, the group’s president, describes Atherton-Zeman as a friendly speaker who is skilled in presenting difficult subject matter in a fashion that is both informative and entertaining. She says Atherton-Zeman is “a really nice person who is extremely enthusiastic about what he does.” She explains that his presentation does not aim to accuse or place blame, but focuses on raising awareness and creating community-wide action to make this type of violence less common.
Although the play is accessible to all genders and identities, it is especially focused on the male perspective. It uses humor and multiple voice characters to minimize what Atherton-Zeman refers to as “male defensiveness” about sexual assault, objectification, harassment, and violence. The goal is to help audience members see how they contribute to the problem as well as how they can contribute to the solution.
Joanna Venator ’13, secretary of Swarthmore Feminists, emphasizes the importance of Atherton-Zeman’s presentation. “This is a very important issue to bring to all genders, and ‘Voices of Men’ provides a medium that is approachable to everyone.”
Leah Foster ’14, treasurer of the Swarthmore Feminists, agrees. “He is both relevant and accessible.”
Atherton-Zeman’s performance will be held this Friday in Science Center 199 from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. It will include the play, “Voices Of Men,” as well as a question and answer session with Atherton-Zeman.