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.
Sexual and domestic violence (SDV) presents a serious security threat in all societies and one that security sector institutions such as the police, justice system, armed forces and prisons are increasingly beginning to address. Historically, SDV was thought to almost exclusively affect women, yet recent studies in several countries have indicated that there are also large numbers of male victims.
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.
“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 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.
This report outlines seven ‘entry points’ for engaging men and boys in domestic violence prevention: 1. Engaging fathers in domestic violence prevention; 2. Men’s health and domestic violence prevention; 3. The role of sports and recreation in domestic violence prevention; 4. The role of the workplace in domestic violence prevention; 5. The role of peer relationships in domestic violence prevention; 6. Men as allies in preventing domestic violence; and 7. Aboriginal healing and domestic violence prevention.
I have been something of a ‘cheerleader’ for men’s violence prevention. I’ve identified the principles which guide men’s involvement in violence prevention. I’ve written at length about the strategies which are most effective, the standards for best practice. But in this keynote address, I want to do something different. I highlight some hard truths, some of the challenges of this field. I will focus on three key points: (1) Men’s violence against women is fundamentally linked to gender inequalities. (2) Men’s involvements in violence prevention are shaped by these same gender inequalities. (3) Gender inequality is the problem, and gender equality is the solution. I then complicate these, noting that gender is not the only story and gender inequality is not the only problem, and that in some ways gender itself is the problem.
In this presentation, I first briefly outline the rationale for involving men in efforts to prevent and reduce men’s violence against women. I offer an intersectional analysis of gender, difference and violence. I first offer an intersectional account of men and masculinities, and I then also offer an intersectional analysis of violence against women. I then spend the remainder of the paper exploring effective ways in which to engage men from diverse backgrounds in violence prevention.