Our world is a deeply unequal one. Systemic inequalities which disadvantage women and advantage men are visible around the globe. Whether one looks at political power and authority, economic resources and decision-making, sexual and family relations, or media and culture, one finds gender inequalities. These are sustained in part by constructions of masculinity–by the cultural meanings associated with being a man, the practices which men adopt, and the collective and institutional organisation of men’s lives and relations.
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[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.
“Men who go to Church don’t commit domestic violence!” A recent Christianity Magazine survey revealed over ½ respondents – mostly women & regular church goers - had suffered domestic abuse. Up to 10% evangelical Christians in UK experienced physical abuse in 2012. Read more
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.
Women often wonder why men behave like 'dicks'. Well I've got the answer. Society, to paraphrase Naomi Wolf, sets men up to fail. Every day we're expected to perform roles that, if we're being brutally honest, don't often come naturally to us. And that's confusing. And Irritating. And uncomfortable. You can't programme a computer to perform a task it wasn't designed to perform. If you do it'll crash. The HAL 9000 computer in 2001 went berserk and rubbed out the space crew when it was given conflicting primary orders. Well, men crash by behaving like arrogant, domineering, eye-wateringly stupid macho dicks throbbing with impotent fury.
In previous posts we have discussed television advertisements and shows that actively encourage “hypermasculinity” and “emphasized femininity”. In this post we will look at the show The Big Bang Theory and discuss the masculinities and femininities that are presented as alternatives to “hypermasculinity” and “emphasized femininity”.
In a few days from now, two men in suits -- Mitt Romney and Barack Obama -- will stand side-by-side to debate each other three times in three weeks. Imagine those moments. The two men defending their records and outlining their case to the American people: “This is why you should choose me to lead you for the next four years.”