White Ribbon New Zealand's 2016 campaign focused on giving fathers in New Zealand the skills and confidence to talk about respectful relationships, including respectful sexual relationships, with their sons. One significant influence on boys' and young men's sexualities is pornography, and White Ribbon NZ addressed this in their campaign materials.
Working with Boys and Men
While a lot of effort and attention is being spent to “engage men” in addressing, responding to and preventing gender-based violence, the term has not been defined in any specific or concrete ways. There is some vague idea, often, about what it might mean for men to be engaged, but without a clearer understanding of what we mean by “engaging”, we’re often left with a lack of clarity in terms of goals, objectives and related activities.
There seem to be at least five distinct but often overlapping goals that people are referring to when they use the term engaging men (with some of the questions that frequently arise in that goal area):
There has been progress towards gender equality in countries around the world. And increasingly, men are being invited to help build gender equality. There is a growing belief that men have a vital role to play in working with women to create a world of gender justice, in campaigns such as HeForShe and in programs addressing domestic violence, parenting, and health. But is gender equality good for men? What do men gain from more gender-equal relationships, families, and communities? What do men lose? Does feminism need men, and do men need feminism?
When profeminist men are alleged to have perpetrated abuse or harassment: How should the alleged abuser respond? How should friends and colleagues respond? Does this change how we see the alleged abuser’s work? Can the alleged abuser stay in public roles?
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.
Meaningful engagement with men and boys is increasingly recognized as critical to gender equality and equity, necessary not only for women’s empowerment, but also for transforming the social and gender norms that reinforce patriarchy and inequality and harm both women and men. The primary challenge embedded in this work is how to engage men and boys effectively without instrumentalizing them as a pathway to women’s empowerment on the one hand, or marginalizing women and girls in gender equity work on the other.
This paper explores the essential principles required for the development of an effective violence prevention framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and boys, to reduce and prevent violence against women and children.
It is now widely accepted that strategies to end violence against women and girls (VAWG) must include work with men and boys. Much of the evidence relating to such strategies comes from the health sector. Ending VAWG, however, requires coordinated work across many sectors. The need for a multi-sectoral response to the challenge of ending VAWG has focused attention on the opportunities for and challenges of male engagement strategies outside of the health sector.
This working paper:
- Reviews existing knowledge on child marriage and informal unions between girls and boys/men in the Global South;
- Explores the attitudes of male family and community members on child marriage and the role of masculinity in shaping these attitudes; and
- Surveys interventions currently working with men and boys to see what can be built upon more systematically in the future work on child marriage.
Please see below for the full report, in PDF.
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.