By KYLE WHITNEY
Journal Staff Writer
MARQUETTE - With little more than a bike and a message, Canadian resident Joachim Ostertag is attempting to reduce violence against women.
Joachim Ostertag, a Canadian, is biking from Ontario to Vancouver to raise awareness of violence against women. Ostertag, who passed through Marquette Tuesday, said he hopes his 3,100-mile ride will engage people “on a larger level.” (Journal photo by Kyle Whitney)
Ostertag, who has worked for 24 years with an abuse counseling program in Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada, said violence against women is pervasive in society. He is biking more than 3,100 miles, from his home to Vancouver, in an attempt to "change the cycle."
Ostertag, who made a brief stop in Marquette Tuesday, said clinical and group work is important, but added he is striving for something larger with this long-distance ride.
"I also realize that we need to engage men more on a larger level," he said. "I think we need to get more of the word out and that we change our attitudes and our belief systems about women, because that is the underlying issue."
Ostertag is acting as a spokesman for The Men's Program, a project of Bruce Grey Child and Family Services. The program focuses primarily on counseling men who have been abusive toward women.
From popular action movies to pornography, Ostertag said women are routinely portrayed in the same light - weak and subservient to men.
"We are all a part of the same system and it's a system that allows women to be hurt," he said. "You could not produce literature that is the same way - abusive - about black people or about Jews, but we can do it about women."
Ostertag left Marquette Tuesday afternoon, heading west across the Upper Peninsula. The goal, he said, was to reach Duluth, Minn., by Thursday. The Men's Program is modeled in part after a model started years ago in Duluth.
"That's why my route goes trough Duluth," he said. "They are kind of the pioneers."
He is planning to reach Vancouver in August.
Ostertag's journey is being chronicled on his website, www.changethecycletour.org. There, people can read his blog, view his trip itinerary and donate to the cause.
Kyle Whitney can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org