men, masculinities and gender politics


James Lang

New journal article: From work with men and boys to changes of social norms and reduction of inequities in gender relations

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.

Men and the Prevention of Gender-based Violence: A Conceptual Framework for Policy Change (2010)

This discussion paper was produced for “Partners for Prevention: Working with Boys and Men to Prevent Gender-based Violence” a UN interagency initiative UNDP, UNFPA, UNIFEM and UNV. This regional programme is a coordinated approach to support primary prevention of gender-based violence in Asia and the Pacific with the deeper involvement of boys and men.

Ending Gender-Based Violence: A call for global action to involve men

In this report, seven masculinity researchers write about masculinity in different parts of the world and about how masculinity is often linked to violence. These acts of violence are committed not only against women and children, but also against other men. The writers suggest a number of ways in which men can be involved in working to combat men’s violence.

Working with Men to End Gender-Based Violence: Lessons for the South Asian Context (2003)

Compared with women, men - especially young men - are overwhelmingly involved in all types of violence. Cultural ideas about what it means to be a man often support this violence. But that is not to say that violence is a natural condition for men, or a natural part of being a man. Men are taught to use violence and at times are encouraged to use it. This paper was prepared for a 2003 UNESCAP Sub-regional Training Workshop on the Elimination of Violence Against Women in Partnership with Men.

Men, Masculinities & Development: Broadening our work towards gender equality (2000)

This paper discusses the role of men in redressing gender inequalities by exploring the meanings and uses of masculinity. Discussions on masculinity provide a place in which men's involvement in producing and challenging inequalities and inequities in gender and other social relations can be investigated. In this paper, masculinity is defined in terms of biological determinism or essentialism, cultural or social constructionism and masculinity as a discourse of power. The uses of masculinity are examined in the context of power and patriarchy; production and social reproduction; poverty; governance; violence and conflict; health; and workplace and organizations. Thinking about masculinities and men's role in working towards gender equality is relatively new in the development field. Therefore, continued efforts should be made to publicize and advocate for the importance of men's responsibilities and roles in work towards gender equality in the international fora, local and national policy debates, and development programming. It is believed that making masculinities visible and men more conscious of gender as it affects their lives and those of women is a first step towards challenging gender inequalities.

Gender Is Everyone’s Business: Programming with Men to Achieve Gender Equality (2002)

To reach Oxfam’s goal of overcoming poverty and suffering, inequalities such as those based upon class, race, ethnicity, physical ability and gender must be addressed. We must continue to confront these inequalities, and to learn to do so more effectively and with more sustainable results. As a primary factor influencing inequalities, gender has been at the centre of Oxfam’s work for decades. Gender equality is an end itself, but it is also a requirement for long term poverty reduction. It is also clear that gender equality is not possible unless both women and men are engaged in the process. Through the “Gender Equality and Men” (GEM) project, Oxfam GB is exploring ways to move more effectively towards gender equality by incorporating men and boys more fully in its gender work – their positions and privilege, and the consequences of that privilege.