In 1982 a group of men in western Massachusetts founded the Men’s Resource Center (MRC), one of the first centers of its kind in North America. The MRC was at the forefront of a burgeoning movement promoting positive masculinity and engaging men to challenge men’s violence against women. Over time, its local focus grew and it became a regional and national model for socially engaged men’s centers. It trained and consulted with several such men’s initiatives, helping to launch centers in New Hampshire, New York, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Texas. In addition, MRC offered a range of services from a certified batterers’ intervention program (featuring a support group for women partners), and groups for young men of color, gay men, and male survivors of neglect and abuse. The MRC’s newsletter grew along with the organization, eventually developing into Voice Male magazine, now a national and international publication. Its book, Voice Male: The Untold Story of the Profeminist Men’s Movement, has become a part of gender studies curricula. Additionally, other offshoots include one early MRC staff member consulting internationally and bringing MRC’s cutting edge work to two national violence prevention organizations; another publishing a groundbreaking book, Unclenching Our Fists: Abusive Men on the Journey to Nonviolence; and a third creating an educational theater troupe, Phallacies, to heighten awareness about men’s lives through poignant and humorous vignettes.
In 2004, a new organization grew out of the MRC, Men’s Resources International (MRI). It carried forward core elements of MRC’s work into the developing world through training and consulting services. It became a recognized leader around the world, promoting both positive male engagement and gender-based violence prevention strategies. Together, MRC and MRI served as important catalysts in what has become a global movement to engage boys and men in gender equality and violence prevention.
In 2013, MRC and MRI engaged in a visioning process that culminated in creating an exciting new program: the Healthy Men and Boys Network. This next generation of the MRC/MRI approach to advancing gender equality strongly resonated with stakeholders from dozens of agencies and organizations throughout Massachusetts and beyond. New and former supporters rallied around the new Network. Partnerships with both local organizations and international campaigns emerged. The message was clear: merging the work into a single cohesive organization was the best strategy to maximize the impact of the work. MERGE for Equality is proud to carry on the tradition of both the Men’s Resource Center and Men’s Resources International.
MERGE began as an acronym—Men Embracing their Role for Gender Equality.
At the core of the name is the founding principle that men have a vital role in the movement for gender equality and eliminating gender-based violence and oppression. MERGE is the foundation that honors the 35-year legacy of MRC and MRI, as well as the HMB Network. These organizations have been on the forefront - locally, nationally and internationally - of male engagement efforts focused on transforming masculinity, achieving gender equality and eliminating gender-based violence.
Looking to the future, the organization’s approach to engaging men and boys in partnership with all who seek to eliminate gender bias has resulted in a best practice for recognition and inclusion that goes beyond gender. So the work begins to advance the premise that when we stand shoulder to shoulder we achieve a world where every individual is safe and valued, ultimately leading to a shared human experience. A vision defined as Equality.