NEW: I have now added the conference program from the conference, as a second attachment below.
Working with Boys and Men
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.
“What do you mean I’m sexist?” I was shocked. I wasn’t a macho guy. I didn’t hate or assault women. I wasn’t a bad guy. “But I’m an anarchist! How can I be sexist?” I was anxious, nervous, and my defenses were up. I believed in liberation, in fighting against capitalism and the state. There are those who are the architects, profiteers and enforcers of injustice and then there was us, right? I was nineteen and it was four years after I got involved in radical politics; my sense of the world was slipping.
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.
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.
This review assesses the effectiveness of programme interventions seeking to engage men and boys in achieving gender equality and equity in health. Research with men and boys has shown how inequitable gender norms - social expectations of what men and boys should and should not do - influence how men interact with their partners, families and children on a wide range of issues. These include preventing the transmission of HIV and sexually transmitted infections, contraceptive use, physical violence, household tasks, parenting and their health-seeking behaviour.
Separated fathers often feel profound grief, distress, and anger at the end of their relationships with their partners and their children. Some participate in ‘fathers’ rights’ groups, a movement which claims to advocate on behalf of men and fathers who are the victims of discrimination and injustice in the Family Court and elsewhere. Yet such groups may do little to help fathers heal or to build or maintain ongoing and positive relationships with their children. Some men do find support in these groups, but they also may be incited into anger, blame, and destructive strategies of litigation. The fathers’ rights movement prioritises formal principles of equality over positive parenting and the well-being of women and children. Some groups seem more concerned with re-establishing paternal authority and fathers’ decision-making related to their children’s and ex-partners’ lives than with actual involvements with children. However, other responses to separated fathers are more constructive.