Men's monopoly of violence is the product of a lifetime's training in how to be a "real" man. The dominant model of masculinity offers to boys and men such qualities as aggressiveness, control, a sense of entitlement to power, and emotional callousness, as well as a series of myths which justify men's violence and men's power. In Western countries, to "be a man" is to be tough, self-reliant and dominant. Many males are taught to adopt an aggressive and violent masculinity, to be repressive of empathy and extremely competitive.
Men’s anti-violence activism is an important case study of male involvement in struggles for gender justice. What does this activism involve, why do men participate, and how do patriarchal inequalities shape both men’s efforts and their reception?
Efforts to prevent violence against women will fail unless they undermine the cultural and collective supports for physical and sexual assault found among many men. Men are the overwhelmingly majority of the perpetrators of violence against women, a substantial minority of males accept violence-supportive attitudes and beliefs, and cultural constructions of masculinity shape men’s use of physical and sexual violence against women. Educational strategies which lessen such social supports for violence therefore are vital. This paper outlines recent Australian community education campaigns directed at men and the dilemmas with which they deal. It then identifies five key challenges in such work.
Australians this week have grieved over the death of cricketer David Hookes, assaulted outside a Melbourne pub. This tragedy should bring into relief the fact that violent assaults occur outside pubs and clubs around Australia every weekend. As long as a culture of aggression and male honour persists, violence will continue to happen, and men (and women) will be injured and killed.
Michael Flood presents an overview of key insights in feminist scholarship regarding violence against women.
Racism is not an attitude but a system. Victor Lewis spells it out, commenting too on anti-sexist men's failure so far to address important aspects of men's experience. He is interviewed by Michael Flood.
If we pay attention to race and ethnicity, what does this mean for the men's movement, for the development of communities of men, and for our understandings of masculinity?
Men can be a ‘problem’ for women’s studies in at least three ways: as objects of feminist scholarship, as students of feminist scholarship, and as agents of this scholarship. First, studying men is an established and desirable aspect of feminist research. But to what extent does the emergent literature on men and masculinities extend or undermine the insights of feminist theory? Second, what issues does male students’ participation in Women’s Studies classes raise for feminist pedagogy? Third, can men themselves produce and teach feminist theory? While “Men’s Studies” has failed to engage with the complexities of feminism, I argue that men can develop pro-feminist or anti-patriarchal knowledges. I explore these issues with reference to my qualitative research on young heterosexual men’s understandings and practices of safe and unsafe sex, and my experience as a student and teacher in Women’s Studies.
In this chapter, I argue first that the term “masculinity” is used in diverse and contradictory ways. I note three problems in these applications of “masculinity”: a slippage from norms concerning or discourses about men to the practices and relations of actual men, the reified representation of masculinity as a fixed character type, and difficulties in identifying multiple masculinities. Second, I argue that the designation “masculinity” and a related one, “hegemonic masculinity”, are employed to refer to cultural norms and ideals, powerful men and patriarchal authority, or both, and that such definitions are potentially at odds. Third, there are times when it is more useful to focus on men, men’s practices and relations. Finally, I acknowledge that neither category “masculinity” nor “men” can be taken as given, and I question the assumed link between masculinity and men.
Citation: Flood, M. “Between Men and Masculinity: An assessment of the term “masculinity” in recent scholarship on men.” Manning the Next Millennium: Studies in Masculinities. Ed. S. Pearce and V. Muller. Black Swan Press, 2002.
A sexist, violent culture exists in some sports, writes Michael Flood.
Originally published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 3 March 2004