men, masculinities and gender politics

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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.

Engaging men in flexible working arrangements (2014)

Research shows that women, especially those with caring responsibilities, are more likely than men to both request and access flexible work. As a result, it is often assumed that flexible work is more relevant to women. Organisational practices are often developed with this perspective in mind. However, workforce demographics and family models have changed (e.g. 63% of fathers with resident dependent children now have a partner in the paid workforce) and this has led to increased work/family conflict for men. This new Australian report notes that many men do not conform to the ideal ‘full-time’ worker model and instead have a range of priorities and aspirations, e.g. to be active and engaged fathers. Research also shows that workplace flexibility is a key driver of employment decisions and job performance for both women and men, including young men, male managers, men approaching retirement and especially younger fathers. Given the above, having greater access to flexible work will enable men to increase their engagement in caregiving and household work, which in turn will help to facilitate gender equality at work. When couples share caring and domestic tasks more equitably, women who have traditionally undertaken the majority of these responsibilities are better positioned to access quality employment opportunities. Yet it is a rare organisation indeed that has focussed on gender equality in caring or on the critical role that men accessing flexible work might play in this.

Separated Fathers and the ‘Fathers’ Rights’ Movement (Journal article)

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.

Involving Men in Efforts to End Violence Against Women (Journal article, 2011)

Around the world, there are growing efforts to involve boys and men in the prevention of violence against women: as participants in education programs, as targets of social marketing campaigns, as policy makers and gatekeepers, and as activists and advocates. Efforts to prevent violence against girls and women now increasingly take as given that they must engage men. While there are dangers in doing so, there also is a powerful feminist rationale for such work. This article provides a review of the variety of initiatives which engage or address men in order to prevent violence against women. It maps such efforts, locating them within a spectrum of prevention activities. Furthermore, the article identifies or advocates effective strategies in work with men to end violence against women.

Engaging Men and Boys in Refugee Settings to Address Sexual and Gender Based Violence

Engaging men and boys has emerged as a vital strategy for ending gender based violence, including in refugee and post-conflict settings. While prevention and response activities are essential, the humanitarian community and host country service providers understand that they must move beyond simply addressing each individual case of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and begin to address the societal, cultural, economic, religious and political systems that either perpetuate or allow for violence based on gender to continue.

Men and Care in the Context of HIV and AIDS: Structure, Political Will and Greater Male Involvement

Rather than focusing simply on ways to increase men’s participation in caring for those with HIV/AIDS, we look first at the causes of the enormous burden of informal care and identify ways to reduce it. We start by analysing the ways in which global economic policies and forces affect how AIDS care is provided and then discuss the relationship between these policies and the lack of health systems capacity available in most high HIV prevalence settings. We then focus on what currently prevents men and boys being more fully involved and identify strategies for increasing their involvement.