Activism & Politics
Feminism has changed the world; it is radically reshaping women’s lives. But what about men? They still hold most of the power in the economy, in government, in religions, in the media and often in the family too. At the same time, many men are questioning traditional views about what it means to be a man. Others resent the gains women have made and want to turn back the clock.
It is time for a critical stocktake of efforts to involve men in the prevention of violence against women. In particular, it is time to assess a series of assumptions about this work which are influential and yet which are unsupported by evidence or dangerous. In this presentation from the recent 2nd MenEngage Second Global Symposium 2014: Men and Boys for Gender Justice (Delhi, 10-13 November), Michael Flood offers a critical assessment of the 'engaging men' field.
Efforts to involve men as allies in domestic and sexual violence work are expanding, marking a shift for these historically women-led movements. Activists and scholars have identified the internal tensions and unintended consequences accompanying this shift, namely the sexism and male privilege men bring into movement spaces (Atherton-Zeman 2009; Flood 2003; Macomber 2012; Macomber and Sniffen 2011). In this paper, I examine how activists are responding to these challenges by emphasizing “men’s accountability.” I argue that although activists have successfully integrated accountability discourse into movement spaces, there is often a gap between discourse and practice. I identify two challenges that hinder accountability practices and offer suggestions for improving accountability practices at the group and organizational levels. This paper offers insights that can be used to inform men’s growing involvement and leadership in sexual and domestic violence work.
“What do you mean I’m sexist?” I was shocked. I wasn’t a macho guy. I didn’t hate or assault women. I wasn’t a bad guy. “But I’m an anarchist! How can I be sexist?” I was anxious, nervous, and my defenses were up. I believed in liberation, in fighting against capitalism and the state. There are those who are the architects, profiteers and enforcers of injustice and then there was us, right? I was nineteen and it was four years after I got involved in radical politics; my sense of the world was slipping.
Since its original publication in 1989, Refusing to Be a Man has been acclaimed as a classic and widely cited in gender studies literature. In thirteen eloquent essays, Stoltenberg articulates the first fully argued liberation theory for men that will also liberate women. He argues that male sexual identity is entirely a political and ethical construction whose advantages grow out of injustice. His thesis is, however, ultimately one of hope—that precisely because masculinity is so constructed, it is possible to refuse it, to act against it, and to change. A new introduction by the author discusses the roots of his work in the American civil rights and radical feminist movements and distinguishes it from the anti-feminist philosophies underlying the recent tide of reactionary men’s movements.
When you hear the term “Engaging Men Coordinator,” who comes to mind? Do you envision a man in this position?
Engaging boys and young men in the prevention of sexual violence: A systematic and global review of evaluated interventions (2011)
The purpose of this review is “to investigate the effectiveness of interventions for preventing boys’ and young men’s use of sexual violence, including: increasing gender-equitable attitudes, bystander intentions, and other attitudes and behaviours”. It considers a total of 65 studies to assess the effectiveness of such interventions. The interventions came from 11 countries, although a high proportion was based in the USA. The majority of interventions took place in school settings.
Genders at Work: exploring the role of workplace equality in preventing men’s violence against women
This report released by the White Ribbon Foundation examines the role of workplaces, and men in workplaces in particular, in preventing men’s violence against women.
The report begins by noting that men’s violence against women is a widespread social problem which requires urgent action. It highlights the need for preventative measures oriented to changing the social and structural conditions at the root of this violence, including through settings such as workplaces.