Working to end violence against women using humor

  • Ben Atherton-Zeman Contributed photo—

  • Ben Atherton-Zeman Contributed photo

  • The Powers Institute in Bernarston, 20 Church St., also houses the Bernarston Historical Society and the Senior Center. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 8/8/2019 9:34:10 AM

Ben Atherton-Zeman of Maynard is a self-identified “recovering sexist.”

These days, Atherton-Zeman, an activist against male violence who has roots in Bernardston, travels the country using humor and voice impressions to discuss gender inequality, sexual harassment and domestic violence.

On Sunday at 2 p.m., Atherton-Zeman will perform his one-man multi-media play, “Voices of Men,” at the Bernardston Senior Center, 20 Church St. in Bernardston. The speaking event is hosted by the Bernardston Historical Society. Refreshments will be served.

According to the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence’s website, the half-hour feminist play confronts gender issues such as sexual assault and date rape, dating violence, domestic violence, sexual harassment and women’s objectification.

Throughout, Atherton-Zeman uses humor and celebrity voice impressions to broach these topics to a male audience in a way that circumvents defensiveness. The website says that each male character in the play is forced to deal with one of the issues. In doing so, they come to the realization that they’re a part of the problem.

In the past, Atherton-Zeman has given performances and presentations in 44 states and Canada, China, England, Turkey, South Africa and the Czech Republic, according to his website, He has spoken at military bases, colleges, high schools, public theaters, conferences, houses of worship and juvenile detention facilities.

For the last few decades, Atherton-Zeman has worked as a prevention educator for rape crisis centers, domestic violence programs and state coalitions. He is an advisory board member for the White Ribbon Campaign in the United Kingdom and a spokesman for the National Organization for Men Against Sexism.

Admission to Sunday’s performance is free and parking is off Library Street. Representatives from local organizations including the New England Learning Center for Women in Transition will be at the event.

Andy Castillo is features editor at the Recorder. He can be reached at

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