It is time for a critical stocktake of efforts to involve men in the prevention of violence against women. In particular, it is time to assess a series of assumptions about this work which are influential and yet which are unsupported by evidence or dangerous. In this presentation from the recent 2nd MenEngage Second Global Symposium 2014: Men and Boys for Gender Justice (Delhi, 10-13 November), Michael Flood offers a critical assessment of the 'engaging men' field.
Activism & Politics
Efforts to involve men as allies in domestic and sexual violence work are expanding, marking a shift for these historically women-led movements. Activists and scholars have identified the internal tensions and unintended consequences accompanying this shift, namely the sexism and male privilege men bring into movement spaces (Atherton-Zeman 2009; Flood 2003; Macomber 2012; Macomber and Sniffen 2011). In this paper, I examine how activists are responding to these challenges by emphasizing “men’s accountability.” I argue that although activists have successfully integrated accountability discourse into movement spaces, there is often a gap between discourse and practice. I identify two challenges that hinder accountability practices and offer suggestions for improving accountability practices at the group and organizational levels. This paper offers insights that can be used to inform men’s growing involvement and leadership in sexual and domestic violence work.
“What do you mean I’m sexist?” I was shocked. I wasn’t a macho guy. I didn’t hate or assault women. I wasn’t a bad guy. “But I’m an anarchist! How can I be sexist?” I was anxious, nervous, and my defenses were up. I believed in liberation, in fighting against capitalism and the state. There are those who are the architects, profiteers and enforcers of injustice and then there was us, right? I was nineteen and it was four years after I got involved in radical politics; my sense of the world was slipping.
Since its original publication in 1989, Refusing to Be a Man has been acclaimed as a classic and widely cited in gender studies literature. In thirteen eloquent essays, Stoltenberg articulates the first fully argued liberation theory for men that will also liberate women. He argues that male sexual identity is entirely a political and ethical construction whose advantages grow out of injustice. His thesis is, however, ultimately one of hope—that precisely because masculinity is so constructed, it is possible to refuse it, to act against it, and to change. A new introduction by the author discusses the roots of his work in the American civil rights and radical feminist movements and distinguishes it from the anti-feminist philosophies underlying the recent tide of reactionary men’s movements.
When you hear the term “Engaging Men Coordinator,” who comes to mind? Do you envision a man in this position?
The movement to end gender-based violence is seeing attention and funding directed to engage men and boys - in public education campaigns, community organizing, and prevention work. State coalitions against sexual and domestic violence host conferences with workshops and keynotes on how to engage men as allies. National speakers and consultants travel to train groups on how to engage men.
Most of these speakers and consultants are men.
The purpose of this review is “to investigate the effectiveness of interventions for preventing boys’ and young men’s use of sexual violence, including: increasing gender-equitable attitudes, bystander intentions, and other attitudes and behaviours”. It considers a total of 65 studies to assess the effectiveness of such interventions. The interventions came from 11 countries, although a high proportion was based in the USA. The majority of interventions took place in school settings.
[Note: The text of this talk is below. But if you want to see a video of the talk as it was delivered, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHnpNyyhjhw.]
Language warning. I’m going to use the ‘F word’, a lot, in this talk. And that word is feminism. I’ve got two simple messages. Feminism needs men. And men need feminism.
The Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault has published its paper "Engaging men in sexual assault prevention".
• The next step in sexual assault prevention is to engage men - both as facilitators and as participants in prevention.
• If men are to be engaged in the prevention of sexual assault there must be a shared understanding of the fact that men have a positive role to play.
• A consideration of how to engage men in prevention efforts must take into account the ways in which some men may resist prevention messages - whether that resistance stems from discomfort, rejection of ideas, or from other sources.
• There is a tension when masculine gender stereotypes are used as a tool for engaging men in prevention while evidence suggests that these same stereotypes can contribute as underlying factors in the perpetration of sexual assault and violence against women.
The global economic crisis is showing the cracks in the surface of how patriarchy is lived in everyday lives; is now not the right time to refocus the discussion? Can we reclaim ‘patriarchy’ from the analysis of all men as patriarchs? How do we understand masculinities in a more political way? How do we address the ways that patriarchy is bad for men, whilst still recognising the battles for women’s rights? What are the implications of rights language for an understanding of patriarchy? If marriage as an institution is the foundation of patriarchy, why are gay and lesbian movements so into marriage now? What do you get if you undress patriarchy? What does it look like underneath? How can stories, film, art media help us to envision this? If the metaphor is that patriarchy is a prison, who are the prisoners and who are the prison wardens? How do elements of patriarchy replicate themselves in our feminist movements? Patriarchy may be seen as an old-fashioned term with little relevance to current work on gender, yet these kinds of questions motivated participants to get excited about the notion of ‘Undressing Patriarchy’ and inspired them to draft background papers and to travel across the world to take part in this conversation. This was an unlikely encounter of unusual suspects. They spent four days together in a hotel in Brighton, in September 2013, engaged in rather unconventional dialogues across perspectives from feminism, men and masculinities work, sexual rights and other social justice struggles. This publication captures some of the dilemmas, new thinking, the interactive process, analyses, future possibilities and challenges identified in these debates in Brighton.