"There is plenty of work to do to build a more gender-equal culture. And men – men who care for women, men who care for justice and equality, and men who care for the wellbeing of our communities and society – have a vital role to play. Whether a man wears a hard hat and a high vis vest, or a suit and tie, whether he works in a cubicle or he’s got a corner office, he can make a difference. Men can join with women, to help build gender equality."
There is great interest these days in the role that men can play in building gender equality. Beginning perhaps in the mid-1990s, we’ve seen a significant increase in attention to men’s roles in building gender equality. This was signalled by various developments.
Consent education among young people is an important strategy for the prevention and reduction of sexual violence. Consent education is one form of ‘respectful relationships’ or ‘healthy relationships’ education, and there is a wealth of research on effective practice in this field.
In this article, I cover three areas:
New toolkit identifies how to reduce backlash and build support in engaging men in violence prevention and gender equality work
Efforts to prevent domestic violence and build gender equality in Australia often meet resistance. Some people push back, responding with criticism and hostility to education or training or to community campaigns. A new guide provides practical strategies for practitioners, advocates, and educators in reducing resistance and building support.
It is possible to prevent and reduce sexual and domestic violence. Well-designed prevention strategies can lessen the social conditions that breed perpetration and victimisation.
It is vital to engage men and boys in this work: because traditional notions of masculinity and sexist masculine cultures shape the violence that some males perpetrate, and because men and boys can help to build fair, respectful communities.
Male political leaders and policy-makers must be engaged as agents of positive change, addressing sexism and abuse in their own institutions and supporting robust agendas of primary prevention.
How do men respond to women’s rejections of them, including sexual rejections? There was substantial media attention in mid-March to the reactions of right-wing media personality Piers Morgan to member of the British royal family and former actress Megan Markle. I was approached to give media commentary, and put together the following notes.
Sexual consent comprises an agreement to participate in a specific sexual activity. It involves feeling safe, respected, comfortable, enthusiastic, informed, and self-determined. For consent to be genuine, it must be given freely and voluntarily. Consent must be active and demonstrated throughout the whole sexual encounter (RASARA, 2021, pp. 1-2).
It is time to reframe the problems of domestic and sexual violence in Australia. To frame domestic violence as the perpetrators’ problem. In today’s presentation, I will argue that we need to change the ways that the community, policy-makers, and violence prevention advocates and educators ourselves talk about domestic violence. And I will describe a new project intended to contribute to the reduction and prevention of domestic violence in Australia.
Much of the work to engage men in preventing violence against women across the globe is profeminist — it is informed by feminist perspectives and done by or in collaboration with women and women’s organisations. Men involved in this work typically are expected to support feminism and to be accountable to women and feminism. But which feminism should profeminist men support? There has been relatively little discussion of this question in the ‘engaging men’ field.
I have five messages today.