Since the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, there have been tremendous advances in the rights and well-being of women and girls. We are still far from achieving equality between women and men, but by many measures—including health, education, political participation, and income— we are closer to it than we were 20 years ago. As envisioned in the Beijing Platform for Action, one critical piece for advancing the gender equality agenda is engaging men and boys.
Working with Boys and Men
To achieve gender equality, we’ll have to engage men. Above all, because gender inequalities are sustained in large part by men – by men’s attitudes, behaviours, identities, and relations. First, this work must be feminist – and I mean, strongly, robustly feminist. Second, this work must challenge men. It must address male privilege. Gender inequality is as much a story of male advantage as it is a story of female disadvantage. Gender inequality is a story of male privilege. Third, we have to involve men in processes of personal and social change. Fourth, we must affirm diverse ways of being a man. We should affirm men who do not fit dominant codes of masculinity and challenge sexist constructions of manhood. Finally, we have to engage men in working for systems change. In tackling the material, structural, and cultural factors that underpin gender inequality.
We’re in an interesting period in terms of men’s violence against women and its prevention. This violence is particularly high on community and government agendas. There are some significant signs of progress. But let’s not lapse into rosy optimism. […] This presentation is intended to contribute to, and intervene in, both advocacy and policy-making aimed at the prevention and reduction of men’s violence against women. It emphasises three key directions for our work. And each of the three also embodies a challenge. Each faces significant obstacles.
Q. Recently, there have been calls for education regarding sexual ethics. How do you conceptualise this? In terms of sexual consent?
The film Raise Our Men features interviews with New Zealand men about their experience of growing up and conforming to male stereotypes (the man box).
The film was developed by White Ribbon New Zealand as part of their 2017 campaign, because how we encourage and expect men to behave, directly affects the high level of domestic violence and sexual harm in this country.
Feminist analysis and activism have been instrumental in achieving gains in women’s rights, including action to address violence against women and girls (VAWG). Over the past two decades, strong local, national and international women’s movements have brought VAWG, including in armed conflict and natural disasters, into the public domain as a development, public health, international peace and security and women’s rights issue.
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.
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.