men, masculinities and gender politics



Forget about blue ribbons! When it comes to ending violence against women, these leaders wear white ones.

(Special thanks to Madeline McDaniel for inviting me to see a talk by Todd Minerson, Executive Director of the White Ribbon Campaign. And to the YMCA of Fredericton and the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Foundation for bringing him to town.)

Slutty until proven innocent. (How we treat women who bring forward allegations of abusive behavior by powerful men.)

(Since these are powerful guys I am writing about, let’s get the legal stuff out of the way: the now ex-head of the IMF, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, is currently facing charges for sexual assault in New York City, but these charges have not been proven in a court of law. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton settled the sexual harassment lawsuit brought against him by Paula Jones out of court, but he was not found guilty of harassment in a court of law. And the sexual harassment allegations made against U.S.

For Dr. Ottilia Chareka the sky was the limit… until one man brought her crashing down.

I never had the good fortune to cross paths with Dr. Ottilia Chareka, a fellow immigrant to Maritime Canada. And now, because of a senseless, violent act, I never will. She is dead, and the police say that her all-too-brief, amazing life was ended by a brutal attack at the hands of her husband. If the charges against him are true (and there is every reason to believe that they are) it means that one man – for reasons known only to himself – was able to snuff out her brilliant light. And we are all diminished by the loss.

10 Things Men Can Do To Celebrate Mother’s Day

It is Mother’s Day, the one day of the year when we finally take a moment to honor the immense and continuing sacrifices that mothers make – first to bring babies into the world and then to raise those babies to adulthood, all the while uttering a quiet but fervent prayer that those children will have safe, healthy, happy, and fulfilling lives. Sadly, not all mothers are good mothers, and, tragically, not all children will be born into situations where they will have the opportunity to have a life that is safe, healthy, happy, and fulfilling.

“What are you looking at?” On the link between traditional masculinity and paranoid personality disorder.

In the mental health field there is probably no more controversial set of diagnoses than those that live on “Axis II” – the so-called “personality disorders.” Unlike the Axis I disorders – which are more likely to be illnesses in the more classic sense of the term (i.e. schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression) – the personality disorders can be thought of as being more like deep character flaws. They are less about what someone has, and more about what someone is.

Pink toenail polish on a boy? Oh, the horror!

This past week the clothing company J. Crew sent out an advertisement featuring a mother (who happens to be a J. Crew executive) playing with her young son. Both are having an uproariously good time. When you look closer, you realize that the mother has been painting her son’s toenails. Neon pink. “Lucky for me I ended up with a boy whose favorite color is pink,” reads the caption. “Toenail painting is so much more fun in neon.”

A boy with pink toenails! Oh the horror! Could anything be worse than that?

Guys! Get out there on the dance floor! And dance!

I have recently had the opportunity to supervise several dances at both the high school and middle school levels. And at both levels I have seen pretty much the same thing: while most of the girls are out there dancing and having a great time, most of the boys are standing around with their hands in their pockets looking not quite sure what to do with themselves. Acting goofy. Acting superior. Acting cool.

Guns don’t kill people: Men and boys kill people. (Thoughts on what is really wrong.)

Today a man walked into a shopping mall in Holland and went on a shooting spree. At this moment there are 7 people dead and 15 others injured. More of the wounded may well die. The gunman was described as being a male about 25 years old and wearing a leather jacket and camouflage pants. And just yesterday another man walked into an elementary school in Brazil and shot dead 11 children and wounded 13 others.

The horror of these events simply chills me…. And then it makes me want to weep.

Deep breath….

We men can be amazingly decent – when we feel like it.

A few years ago I was taking some classes at a university. One day the athletic department moved in across the hall. From that day forward the men’s washroom was a cesspool. Literally. Some days I wished that I had worn boots in there because the floor in there was so wet and disgusting!

“Look at me now.” On Chris Brown and the ineffectiveness of batterer intervention programs.

Chris Brown – the singer perhaps best known for brutally beating the singer Rihanna on the night of the Grammys in 2009 – is again in the headlines due to his violent behavior. This week Mr. Brown, who was recently praised by a judge for having successfully completed a batterer intervention program that he had been sentenced to, appeared on the ABC television show “Good Morning America.” When he was asked about his domestic violence assault against Rihanna, he replied: “I think I’m past that in my life.”