By Michael Flood, August 7, 2018. Revised, August 13, 2018.
How do we prevent our sons from becoming rapists?
Media headlines lately have been dominated by violence – young men’s violence against other men outside pubs and in the street, and men’s sexual assaults of women. Most boys and men do not use violence. But a minority do. The confronting truth is, some of the boys growing up right now will force or pressure a girl or woman into sex.
The term toxic masculinity has appeared increasingly frequently in media and popular discussions of men and gender. The term typically is used to refer to the narrow, traditional, or stereotypical norms of masculinity which shape boys and men’s lives. These norms include the expectations that boys and men must be active, aggressive, tough, daring, and dominant.
The term toxic masculinity points to two interrelated impacts of the constructions of masculinity:
Men’s relations with men structure the practices, processes, and cultures of a wide variety of social contexts. Homosocial bonds have a profound influence on men’s friendships with other men and their social and sexual relations with women. Various institutional contexts, from schools and workplaces to militaries and governments, are dominated by males and shaped by the relations between them. Male-male relations define important kinship and familial connections.
There has recently been a ‘turn to men’ in gender politics, an increasing emphasis on the roles that men can play in building gender equality. This is a feminist achievement, which locates the responsibility for gender injustice squarely with the group who benefit from it, and it prompts programs and policies which ideally involve men in processes of personal and collective transformation. Yet there are problems with this turn to men.
What role can men play in building gender equality? How can men be engaged in the work of building a gender-just world? This page offers a guide to the wide range of resources and materials on XY on these issues.
What is sexual harassment? What are its character, causes, and consequences? Here are some key readings, particularly recent academic overviews.
The pieces are listed below, and the full text attachments are below them.
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.