Speaking out against domestic violence

Every day, an average of three women die in the United States as the result of domestic violence. Hillsborough County ranks second in the state of Florida in incidents of domestic violence and forcible rapes; 11 women died last year as the result of this violence, according to Marilyn Bray, grants manager of The Spring of Tampa Bay Inc., a provider of domestic violence victims’ services.

In response to these statistics, The Spring, in partnership with the Harrell Center and USF women’s studies department, presents Ben Atherton-Zeman in his one-man show “Voices of Men.”

Atherton-Zeman is a representative of the National Organization of Men Against Sexism and has put on his act in 36 states, China and the Czech Republic.

His presentation was conceived out of the frustration of witnessing firsthand the effects of domestic violence.

“Most of the victims I have met have been women, and most of the people that committed violence against them have been of my gender,” Atherton-Zeman said. “Because of that, I decided it was time for us as men to raise our voices until this violence stops.”

Atherton-Zeman, who impersonates Rocky Balboa and James Bond, uses humor as an icebreaker, conveying a message he feels men in particular may not want to talk about.

“I use humor and funny costumes and voices because many men get defensive when women talk about the violence our gender commits,” he said. “We feel that we are being accused of being batterers or rapists, when the reality is, we’re really just getting informed.”

Atherton-Zeman emphasized that his act may not be for everyone.

“The performance does contain some scenes that depict graphic violence against women,” he said. “So it is a little tense for some folks, but there is funny stuff and you will laugh if you come.”

The presentation will take place tonight at 7 in Room 120 of Theater 2.