Activism & Politics
I’m going to start with some points about men, patriarchy, and feminism which I hold to be self-evident. That is, some basic truths. And I will end with some harder questions.
So, this first section is “Engaging Men 101”.
Some truths I hold to be self-evident
To achieve gender equality, we’ll have to engage men.
To end patriarchy, to achieve gender equality, men will have to change. Putting this another way, we will have to engage men. Above all, because gender inequalities are sustained in large part by men – by men’s attitudes, behaviours, identities, and relations.
Patriarchy is about men – about male privilege, about men’s practices and relations, with women and perhaps more so with other men.
Men are members of a privileged group, and we receive various benefits and dividends whether or not we want to. We have an ethical responsibility, a political responsibility, to challenge and undermine this privilege, to change our own sexism and to challenge other men’s.
So, to put it far too simply, men are part of the problem, and men are part of the solution.
There are many good reasons to engage men in building gender equality, especially given that some men’s practices, identities, and relations can sustain inequalities. The need to engage men can be particularly true in conflict and post-conflict societies, which often reinforce narrow views of masculinity and gender hierarchies. At the same time, involving men in gender-related policy and programming carries the risk of compromising resources and services directed exclusively to women or diluting the feminist orientation of such efforts.
The MenEngage Alliance, a global network of more than 630 organizations working with men and boys for women’s right and gender justice, has worked to enhance accountability in this field for some time, building on many years of work by women’s rights organizations. The MenEngage Alliance understands accountability as the commitment that activists and organizations working in the engaging boys and mend field must have toward women’s rights groups and other social justice movements.
Donald Trump's election to the US presidency, and his behaviour before and after, have prompted considerable discussion about masculinity, gender, and violence against women. Here, we have collected some valuable examples of this commentary.
Here is a handy, one-page guide to key activist and academic resources on men, masculinities, and gender.
It's available below, and in a downloadable Word document further below.