men, masculinities and gender politics

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Men and emotions

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It’s a weeknight after a particularly tough day at work. You’ve just put the kids to bed. You can’t stop thinking about work, the problems waiting for you there tomorrow and it’s getting you down. You don’t feel like talking about it, especially not with your partner. You just want to be left alone to mull things over. You’re ready for a beer and the couch.

Your partner always knows when some thing’s up and tonight is no exception.  She sits beside you on the couch and asks ”Are you ok? You haven’t said much all night.” You reply with a curt, “I’m fine.” And you turn back to the TV hoping she will change the subject. Your partner is offended now and she gets up and leaves the room.

Does this sound familiar? It’s a common scenario that many men could avoid if they developed their emotional intelligence.

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.

Like a Jungle

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People say that 'they are only words' when dismissing as 'politically correct' any attempt to resist insults. My response to this weird charge of political correctness is -'would you rather we kept calling people bints and spastics and wogs then?' Of course the real political motivation comes from those desperate to keep everyone in their place -submissive, mistreated and bullied in words and in deeds. A lyric from *The Message* by Grandmaster Flash has rattled in my head for years. How well it applies to women's resistance:
*It's like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder
How I keep from going under*

Minimizing the Damage – Male Accountability in Stopping Men’s Violence Against Women

I’ve been working to end men’s violence against women for almost 20 years.  And I am doing this work largely because of the inspiration, teachings and welcome of powerful, smart, feminist women.  We men (myself included) owe it to these women, and to ourselves, to practice true accountability. 

Mourning masculinity

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When you’re told you’re going to die, you go through five stages: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. I remember learning about these Stages of Death and Dying, by Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross.

I’ve noticed that, as men, we tend to go through these same stages when confronted with the reality of men’s violence against women.

Men, Feminism, and Men’s Contradictory Experiences of Power (1999)

In a world dominated by men, the world of men is, by definition, a world of power. That power is a structured part of our economies and systems of political and social organization; it forms part of the core of religion, family, forms of play, and intellectual life. On an individual level, much of what we associate with masculinity hinges on a man’s capacity to exercise power and control.
But men’s lives speak of a different reality. Though men hold power and reap the privileges that come with our sex, that power is tainted.

Politicising Masculinities: Beyond the Personal

Produced by the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), this report summarises and draws inspiration from the Politicising Masculinities symposium, which took place on 15-18 October 2007 in Dakar, Senegal. The report reflects on four key areas of discussion that took place at the symposium: new ways of theorising; male bodies and sexualities; shaping policies and transforming institutions; and mobilisation, activism and movement-building.

THE AIM FRAMEWORK: Addressing and Involving Men and Boys To Promote Gender Equality and End Gender Discrimination and Violence

This paper, originally prepared for UNICEF in 2003, synthesizes lessons from the past two decades of work with men and boys to end gender inequality and men's violence, and to promote new models of masculinity and new relations between women and men. It distills the conceptual tools that can help organizations focus such work so that it is not a drain on resources that could go to women and girls. And it develops a strategic framework for addressing and involving men and boys.

Please see below for the attachment, in either PDF or RTF. A French-language version is available.

Agenda journal, Special Focus: Gender, Culture and Rights (2005)

A special issue of the journal Agenda focuses on 'gender, culture and rights', with a series of articles on men, masculinities, and gender issues. Selected pieces from this special issue are available below.

Troublesome Masculinities: Masculinity in Trouble

This article explores the notion of ‘troublesome’ masculinities that characterise much of the policy discourse and programme thinking on problems of young men and gender. It critiques the dimorphism that shapes this view of young men’s gender trouble, and the ‘culturalism’ that constrains the perception of the troubled times in which many young men live.