Last week’s International Conference on Masculinities was the latest in a string of international events on engaging men and boys for gender equality.
In this 10-minute speech at the Melbourne Town Hall, Dr Michael Flood had four messages: (1) We know a fair amount about the problem – about men’s violence against women. (2) Men are now part of the solution. (3) We face real challenges. (4) It’s time for a fresh approach.
Violence perpetrated by and against men and boys is a major public health problem. Although individual men’s use of violence differs, engagement of all men and boys in action to prevent violence against women and girls is essential. We discuss why this engagement approach is theoretically important and how prevention interventions have developed from treating men simply as perpetrators of violence against women and girls or as allies of women in its prevention, to approaches that seek to transform the relations, social norms, and systems that sustain gender inequality and violence. We review evidence of intervention effectiveness in the reduction of violence or its risk factors, features commonly seen in more effective interventions, and how strong evidence-based interventions can be developed with more robust use of theory. Future interventions should emphasise work with both men and boys and women and girls to change social norms on gender relations, and need to appropriately accommodate the differences between men and women in the design of programmes.
White Ribbon conducted a review of research and evaluation approaches for gender-based violence programming for men and boys. The concept of “engagement” is defined and deconstructed and includes a call to broaden the definition of engagement to include male responsibility and commitment when measuring program effectiveness. Additionally, with the increasing utilization of social media in prevention programming, it is important to consider physical and virtual spaces when evaluating engagement.
Tanveer Ahmed’s opinion piece (Men forgotten in violence debate, The Australian 9th February 2015) charges radical feminism with outdated notions of gender relations. However, it is his own world view, focused on the reinstatement of biological sex differences as a basis for men’s power and his concern about what he calls men’s disempowerment that fails to grasp the changes required of men as we move towards the necessary empowerment of women and gender equality.
This collection highlights useful online resources for the work of engaging men and boys in preventing and reducing men's violence against women.
It has long been asserted and assumed that women ‘cry rape’ – that women often maliciously invent allegations of rape for malicious, vengeful and other motives (Lisak et al. 2010). The reality is, instead, that false reports of sexual assault are rare. In addition, the scale of false reporting in rape cases is no higher than for other crimes (Kelly 2010).
In addition, false accusations of domestic violence (and other forms of violence and abuse including child abuse) in the context of family law proceedings are uncommon. Mothers are more likely than fathers to have unsubstantiated allegations – both false accusations and allegations without support – leveled against them, and fathers are more likely than mothers to make unsubstantiated allegations.
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.