Sir Patrick Stewart is calling on one million men to pledge to work toward ending violence against women. We knew we liked him.
In New York City, at the center of the Diplomat Ballroom at the UN Hotel on Friday, Stewart gave a rousing speech, pounding his fist on his podium until he reached “nine.”
“Every nine seconds a woman is assaulted or beaten in the United States,” Stewart said.
The 72-year-old British actor, famous for his roles in X-Men and Star Trek: The Next Generation hosted the launch of “Ring The Bell,” a global campaign calling for one million men to make one million “concrete, actionable promises” aimed at ending violence against women.
“Violence against women is the single greatest human rights violation of our generation,” Stewart said. “This is a call to action—not an act that will make things better in six months or a year’s time. This is action that might save a life today, or tonight, or tomorrow.”
The event fell on International Women’s Day, and had roughly 200 assorted actors, activists, politicians, filmmakers and musicians in attendance.
Stewart received a standing ovation after recounting a personal story of repeated violence he witnessed as a 5-year-old in his home.
“I became an expert on when to open the door and throw myself between my father’s fist and my mother’s body,” Stewart said, saying that his father “was unable to control his emotions—and his hands.”
“My mother did not do anything to provoke my father,” Stewart said. “But even if she did, violence is not the answer.”
The event was full of other quotable sound bites as well. Dallas Mayor Michael Rawlings, who launched an initiative to combat domestic violence in his city in January, said that “You can call a man who hits a woman a lot of things, but you can’t call him a man.”
Former NFL quarterback and feminist Don McPherson agreed. “We don’t raise boys to be men,” he said. “We raise them not to be women, or gay men.”
McPherson’s solution to violence against women is similar to the fight against racism. “White people confronted white people to fight racism,” McPherson said. “Men need to confront men.”
— Patrick Stewart (@SirPatStew) March 8, 2013
Below is a video of Sir Richard Branson’s speech, which was previously recorded and played at the event. What do you think of the “Ring The Bell” movement? Will you be one of Sir Patrick Stewart’s “one million men?”