men, masculinities and gender politics

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Fathering

Are you a man or woman who has been affected by discrimination in the workplace related to pregnancy, parental leave and return to work following parental leave?

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On 22 June 2013, the Attorney-General’s Department asked the Australian Human Rights Commission to conduct a national review on the prevalence, nature and consequences of discrimination in relation to pregnancy at work and return to work after parental leave.

Separated Fathers and the ‘Fathers’ Rights’ Movement (Journal article)

Separated fathers often feel profound grief, distress, and anger at the end of their relationships with their partners and their children. Some participate in ‘fathers’ rights’ groups, a movement which claims to advocate on behalf of men and fathers who are the victims of discrimination and injustice in the Family Court and elsewhere. Yet such groups may do little to help fathers heal or to build or maintain ongoing and positive relationships with their children. Some men do find support in these groups, but they also may be incited into anger, blame, and destructive strategies of litigation. The fathers’ rights movement prioritises formal principles of equality over positive parenting and the well-being of women and children. Some groups seem more concerned with re-establishing paternal authority and fathers’ decision-making related to their children’s and ex-partners’ lives than with actual involvements with children. However, other responses to separated fathers are more constructive.

Fathers' rights (encyclopedia entry, 2007)

‘Fathers’ rights’ refers to organized groups or networks of fathers who act in support of the collective interests of fathers, especially separated fathers whose children do not reside with them. Fathers’ rights (hereafter ‘FR’) groups are active particularly in lobbying for changes in *family law.
FR is defined by the claim that fathers are deprived of their ‘rights’ and subjected to systematic discrimination as men and fathers, in a system biased towards women and dominated by feminists. FR groups overlap with *men’s rights groups and both represent an organised backlash to feminism. While other networks also promote fathers’ involvement in families, the FR movement is distinguished by its *anti-feminist discourse of men or fathers as victims. At the same time, FR perspectives do have a wide currency across the political spectrum.

Allowing Men to Care: Fatherhood Project in South Africa

In South Africa, men are increasingly rejecting widespread stereotypes of manhood by stepping forward to challenge gender roles that compromise their well-being and the health of their partners and their families. This case study documents the Sonke Gender Justice Network’s Fatherhood project, which was designed to reduce HIV transmission and address related problems, such as gender-based violence, women’s overwhelming burden of care, and the preponderance of children in need of care and support.

See http://www.icrw.org/publications/allowing-men-care for the report regarding this work.

Fact Sheet #2: The myth of women’s false accusations of domestic violence and rape and misuse of protection orders

Myth:

  Women routinely make up allegations of domestic violence and rape, including to gain advantage in family law cases. And women use protection orders to remove men from their homes or deny contact with children.

Facts:

  • The risk of domestic violence increases at the time of separation.
  • Most allegations of domestic violence in the context of family law proceedings are made in good faith and with support and evidence for their claims.
  • Rates of false accusations of rape are very low.
  • Women living with domestic violence often do not take out protection orders and do so only as a last resort.
  • Protection orders provide an effective means of reducing women’s vulnerability to violence.

'Fathers' rights' and the defence of paternal authority in Australia

Feminism’s achievements regarding violence against women are a key target for the fathers’ rights movement. This article provides an overview of the impact of the fathers’ rights movement on men’s violence against women. It documents the ways in which fathers’ rights groups in Australia have influenced changes in family law, which privilege parental contact over safety, particularly through moves toward a presumption of children’s joint residence. They have attempted to discredit female victims of violence, to wind back the legal protections available to victims and the sanctions imposed on perpetrators, and to undermine services for the victims of men’s violence.

A Request to Men’s Organizations and Allies for Support of Protective Child Custody (in English, Spanish, and French)

Male supremacist groups (“Father’s Rights”) have caused unspeakable harm to our country and to our children by encouraging abusive fathers, often with little past involvement with their children, to seek custody as a tactic to pressure a mother to return or to punish her for leaving. The following call for support comes from the US-based National Organization for Men Against Sexism (NOMAS).

For further discussions of 'fathers' rights' groups, see some of the pieces in XY's collection on 'men's and fathers' rights'.

Raising boys? Help yourself to some gender stereotypes

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Steve Biddulph’s bestseller on bringing up boys takes us on a trip back to the 19th century.

Role of Men in the Lives of Children

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Indeed, the rights and well-being of the child are best served when relations between men and women in the household are based on mutual respect, equal rights and shared responsibilities. In line with this reflection and taking into account its past experience, UNICEF must broaden its research and programme focus to include men and boys as important actors in programmes of cooperation.

This background paper is part of an ongoing effort to better understand the role that men can play in the lives of children and women. Arguments for UNICEF’s support to activities focused on men and boys are discussed. This is supported by UNICEF’s previous and ongoing initiatives to involve men in development programmes for children and women as well as a general review of current literature.

Men, Male Roles, and Gender Equality - Norway White Paper (2009)

Gender equality has long been synonymous with women and their struggle for economic independence, equal pay, and equal power. It has also been a key principle in eliminating oppression and violence.

However, gender equality is about both men and women. Men spend less time together with their own children, are more prone to accidents, are over-represented in crime statistics, and drop out more often from upper secondary education. These examples indicate that men would have much to gain from true gender equality. Men are under-represented in the teaching professions in preschools and schools, in nursing and children's social services. At the same time, men still sit in the majority of positions of power in society and they still make more money than women. It is mainly men who are the perpetrators of domestic violence.

In recent years there have been positive changes in the role of males in society. It has been almost 20 years since the Committee on Male Roles in 1991 presented its recommendations. The Committee on Male Roles pointed out the following goals: the reallocation of power between women and men, more time for fathers to care for their own children both before and after a family breakup, reduced gender differences in choice of education and training and the prevention of men's violence against women; all of these were to be central goals for the future work towards gender equality. In several areas the development in the period has been positive. In particular, there is reason to look at the development in the home, and the increased contact between fathers and their children. In other areas, however, the development has been stagnant or negative. While women have entered previous male arenas in the working life, there has not been any increase in employment of men in the health and care giving sectors. In the education sector men constitute a smaller group today than 15 years ago. Consequently, there is reason to reiterate the goals stated by the committee.