Men’s responses to #MeToo, and other forms of feminist advocacy on rape and sexual harassment, range from enthusiastic support to hostile backlash. There are common forms of resistance among men to these campaigns, including defensive denials that men’s violence is routine, a focus on ‘other’ men, and complaints that #MeToo has ‘gone too far’. And for many men, there is simply mute discomfort. Masculinity is implicated directly in men’s perpetration of rape and sexual harassment, but also in men’s widespread inaction or complicity in the face of men’s violence against women.
As part of the White Ribbon Campaign in Australia, White Ribbon Australia produced the White Ribbon Policy and Research Series, focused on the prevention of men’s violence against women. This comprised a series of papers, with the first in 2010 and the last in 2017. Here, we have collected these papers.
Facing Patriarchy challenges current thinking about men’s violence against women. Drawing upon radical and intersectional feminist theory and critical masculinity studies, the book locates men’s violence within the structures and processes of patriarchy.
The UN Women Training Center has developed a great resource for men to educate ourselves: the Self-Learning Booklet: Masculinities and Violence against Women and Girls (2016).
The booklet was developed as the result of a series of training courses that aim to strengthen capacities of development practitioners and advocates to understand, integrate and address critical gender issues in their lives and work. This tool aims to assist both UN and non-UN staff to better understand the issues of masculinities in relation to violence against women and girls.
Research tells us that socially constructed gender norms which associate masculinity with power, violence and control can play a role in driving conflict and insecurity.
The SHED Manual: For workers engaging in men’s behaviour change to shed abusive beliefs and violence (2013) was developed over almost 20 years of practice in rural Australia by Chris Laming. The SHED (Self Help Ending Domestics) Project engaged with men and challenged them to look at themselves, as though in a mirror. It was ‘time and space for men to face who they are and what they have become and a chance to change what is not good’.
Sexist jokes often are dismissed or excused as harmless fun. Yet they have real, negative effects in the world. They are linked to sexist and violent behaviour, they worsen gender inequalities, and they increase tolerance for violence against women.
Efforts to promote gender equality and violence prevention in workplaces and organisations often meet resistance. Resistance takes a variety of forms, from denial of the problem, to inaction, to victim-blaming, to outright attack. How should we respond to resistance and backlash? And, how can we make resistance less likely in the first place?
Everyday sexism is a serious problem. Sexist jokes and comments, intrusive and harassing treatment, and other behaviours are a near-daily experience for many women. They cause direct harm, and they contribute to wider gender inequalities. Everyday sexism is routine, invisible, and often excused or ignored.
So, how can we challenge everyday sexism? What can you say when your uncle makes a sexist joke at the Christmas dinner? What can you do when your workmate comments on a passing woman’s appearance? How can you respond when your mum says that women need to be more careful to avoid rape? What can you do when some guy on the train is making a young women uncomfortable?
The notion of the ‘Man Box’ names influential and restrictive norms of manhood. The ‘Act Like a Man’ box or ‘Man Box’ has been a common teaching tool in efforts over the past three decades to engage men and boys in critical reflections on men and gender (Kivel, 2007). The ‘box’ names the qualities men are expected to show, the rewards they earn for doing so, and the punishments they are dealt if they step ‘outside’ the box. It emphasises that these dominant standards are restrictive and limiting for men, as well as harmful for women. Individual qualities in the Man Box are not necessarily bad, and indeed some may be useful or desirable in some contexts. On the other hand, some of the qualities are negative in themselves, the range of qualities available to men is narrow, and men are expected not to deviate from them. The Man Box norms also sustain forms of privilege or unfair advantage for men, and men’s attitudes and behaviours that underpin inequality between men and women. The reference to ‘acting like a man’ makes the point that masculinity is a ‘performance’, a set of qualities and behaviours practised in particular contexts.