Every so often, someone asks me how men should get involved in feminism. It’s not that surprising, as I’m a sociologist of gender and social movements, specializing in men and feminism. Still, I always struggle with how to respond because there are a huge number of ways men can get involved in feminism: teaching other guys about the issues, fundraising, volunteering at a sexual assault/domestic violence center or other women’s rights organization, and advocating for feminist policies in school, at work, as well as at the local, state, and federal government levels.
Working with Boys and Men
Both women and men may experience violence and abuse by intimate partners or former partners. Men are a visible, although small, proportion of adult victims of intimate partner violence. What are effective and appropriate ways to respond to male victims? In this XY collection, we have gathered resources and guides on this area. Unfortunately, much of the public commentary on male victims of domestic violence is driven by anti-feminist political agendas rather than by a genuine concern with male victims' needs.
A recent report from the New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse explores how to effectively involve men and boys in preventing violence against women. The report has the following key messages:
The Senate just voted to advance legislation that puts women’s lives at risk. The President was recently embroiled in a fight with MSNBC talk show host Mika Brzezinski that led to him tweeting that she had a “low IQ” and was “bleeding badly from a face lift,” words that fall in line with his other attacks on women, people of color and immigrants.
MY MASCULINITY HELPS explores the role of African American men and boys in the prevention of sexual violence. It shows African American male allies (psychologist, professor, peer educator, attorney, pastor, athlete, middle and high school students, activist) demonstrating understanding and support for survivors of sexual violence. Strategies for assistance and prevention are provided. Survivors also share their stories and what has helped them. The film serves as a counter-narrative to often inaccurate and misleading portrayals of African American masculinity.
How can we prevent and reduce men's violence against women? What does violence prevention involve? What does primary prevention mean?
In this XY collection, we present short, accessible introductions to the field of violence prevention. They are listed below, and provided in full text at the bottom of this page.
There is an excellent international literature on how best to prevent and reduce men's violence against women. It includes major, systematic reviews of effective practice in this field. In this XY collection, we present key reports on and guides to prevention practice. They are listed below, and provided in full text at the bottom of this page.
Initiatives aimed at ‘engaging men’ to address gender inequality have gained popularity in recent years. But how much do we really know about the most effective ways to engage men in gender equality?
I’m going to start with some points about men, patriarchy, and feminism which I hold to be self-evident. That is, some basic truths. And I will end with some harder questions.
So, this first section is “Engaging Men 101”.
Some truths I hold to be self-evident
To achieve gender equality, we’ll have to engage men.
To end patriarchy, to achieve gender equality, men will have to change. Putting this another way, we will have to engage men. Above all, because gender inequalities are sustained in large part by men – by men’s attitudes, behaviours, identities, and relations.
Patriarchy is about men – about male privilege, about men’s practices and relations, with women and perhaps more so with other men.
Men are members of a privileged group, and we receive various benefits and dividends whether or not we want to. We have an ethical responsibility, a political responsibility, to challenge and undermine this privilege, to change our own sexism and to challenge other men’s.
So, to put it far too simply, men are part of the problem, and men are part of the solution.