Activism & Politics
When men are involved in feminist work, this is ally politics. [… and] ally politics can only ever been seen as one component of social change efforts.
Black feminist Audre Lorde wrote, “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” She might also have written, ‘The masters will never dismantle the master’s house.’ Certainly not by themselves. Certainly not without being part of a broader feminist movement. […]
What about the actual work of engaging men? Engaging men doesn’t easily or quickly produce substantial change in gender inequalities, although it can certainly contribute to change. […]
Perhaps the most important reason why engaging men is not a game changer is that changing gender inequality, including changing men, is hard. […] Large proportions of men resent feminist efforts and resist the recognition of sexism. They deny, minimise, and blame.
[…] Sometimes, engaging men is the same old patriarchal game. […]
However, if we can change men, if men can change, in large numbers and in substantial ways, yes, that will be a real change in the game.
In violence prevention, we must move beyond simplistic notions of “white men saving brown women from brown men”. Women from CALD and indigenous communities are not necessarily hapless victims, and nor are immigrant and refugee men any more sexist or violent than their English counterparts. In any context – rich or poor, Anglo or otherwise, newly arrived or fifth-generation – work with men must recognise the intersections of race, class, and sexuality which shape men’s lives.
In efforts to prevent men’s violence against women, there is a growing emphasis on the need to engage men. Men are becoming involved as participants in education programs, audiences for social marketing, activists and advocates, community leaders, and policy makers. First then, what does this ‘engaging men’ field look like? Second, what are its achievements and what are its limitations or dangers? This field is one instance of a wider ‘turn to men’ in gender politics, an increasing emphasis on the roles that men can play in building gender equality.
Here is a handy guide to five key steps in organising men to stop violence against women.
The EMERGE (Engendering Men: Evidence on Routes to Gender Equality) project has produced a new policy briefing which makes the case for re-framing policy on gender equality in order to more productively factor in men and boys, and suggests actions and approaches that policy makers can take to do this. The briefing, along with an accompanying practice brief and a conceptual framing paper, is available here.
That we need to work with men and boys has become a key mantra of health programmes globally, particularly those concerned with HIV, violence and more recently sexual and reproductive health and rights, and yet there is very little known about how effective these programmes are, nor of the challenges, opportunities and politics of this work. A special issue of Culture, Health and Sexuality draws together a number of globally recognised authors to reflect on the field, as well as provide provocative insights into the politics and processes of working with men and boys.
Challenging Patriarchy presents contributions to the evolution of thinking on men and masculinities in Gender and Development, drawing on three IDS Bulletins published over a period of more than a decade: Men, Masculinities and Development (2000), edited by Andrea Cornwall and Sarah White, Sexuality Matters (2006), edited by Andrea Cornwall and Susie Jolly, and
A range of articles on male feminists, men supporting feminism, and so on have appeared in recent years. These populist articles have recurring themes regarding what men should do. Men should:
How can men help to build gender equality at work? How can workplaces and organisations engage men in progress towards gender justice? In this XY collection, we bring together key reports, manuals, and other items of interest.
Also see the recent report, Men Make a Difference: Engaging Men on Gender Equality, commissioned by the Diversity Council Australia and written by Dr Michael Flood and Dr Graeme Russell.