Why are women always tasked with ending men’s violence? Why are women both burdened with suffering under it and with solving it? Why do we never ask men to change their behaviour or to step up to counter misogyny and harm? How Men Can Help: A Guide To Undoing Harm and Being A Better Ally, by award-winning journalist and campaigner Sophie Gallagher provides the much-needed answers to these urgent questions.
I want to start with the rationale for this work. Why are we trying to promote healthy masculinities? What is the problem?
To answer that, I have to start with gender.
I’m using the term ‘gender’ here for the patterns of men’s and women’s lives, boys’ and girls’ lives.
Gender means: the meanings we give to being male and female, and the social organisation of men’s and women’s lives.
"the horrific enactments of violence discussed here are the work of men. Whether masculinity is something we should consider salvageable or bankrupt ought to inform our scholarship and our politics. And on these issues... Masculinity is the malignant tissue connecting these seemingly disparate events. It’s time to man down."
Men have a vital role to play in contributing to the prevention and reduction of sexual harassment, in workplaces and elsewhere. Although men’s involvement is often constrained by poor understanding of sexual harassment and barriers preventing their advocacy, there are effective ways to invite them in to the work of sexual harassment prevention, and practical actions men can take to make change.
I was asked, as a man, to explain “mansplaining”. That is an assignment fraught with pitfalls.
Firstly, the pandemic was a public health crisis. But the pandemic generated many secondary crises and illuminated underlying tensions and contradictions in our society. And the care crisis was a big one.
Driving is shaped by gender – by the meanings given to being male or female and the social organisation of men’s and women’s lives and relations. There are significant associations between men, masculinity, and risky driving.
Risky driving behaviours
Men are more likely than women to show various risky driving behaviours, as national data on self-reported driving behaviour in Australia finds. Males are more likely than females to:
I’ve happily worn my pro-feminist politics like a badge for nearly twenty years. I joined an anti-sexist men’s group at age 20, did Women’s and Gender Studies at university and completed a PhD in Gender and Sexuality Studies. I founded the pro-feminist magazine XY and ran it for seven years before turning it into a major website. I continue to research issues of men, masculinity and sexuality, and I’m involved in activism and education particularly on men’s violence against women.
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