Involving men in ending violence against women: Facing challenges and making change (Keynote speech, White Ribbon Conference, Sydney, May 2013)
I have been something of a ‘cheerleader’ for men’s violence prevention. I’ve identified the principles which guide men’s involvement in violence prevention. I’ve written at length about the strategies which are most effective, the standards for best practice. But in this keynote address, I want to do something different. I highlight some hard truths, some of the challenges of this field. I will focus on three key points: (1) Men’s violence against women is fundamentally linked to gender inequalities. (2) Men’s involvements in violence prevention are shaped by these same gender inequalities. (3) Gender inequality is the problem, and gender equality is the solution. I then complicate these, noting that gender is not the only story and gender inequality is not the only problem, and that in some ways gender itself is the problem.
In this presentation, I first briefly outline the rationale for involving men in efforts to prevent and reduce men’s violence against women. I offer an intersectional analysis of gender, difference and violence. I first offer an intersectional account of men and masculinities, and I then also offer an intersectional analysis of violence against women. I then spend the remainder of the paper exploring effective ways in which to engage men from diverse backgrounds in violence prevention.
He Hits, She Hits: Assessing debates regarding men’s and women’s experiences of domestic violence (Seminar)
The debate over men’s versus women’s domestic violence is increasingly prominent, both in academic scholarship and in popular culture. We have always known that both men and women are capable of using violence, and that both men and women are the victims of violence. At the same time, domestic violence has long been understood to be a problem largely of violence by men, against women and children.
Separated fathers often feel profound grief, distress, and anger at the end of their relationships with their partners and their children. Some participate in ‘fathers’ rights’ groups, a movement which claims to advocate on behalf of men and fathers who are the victims of discrimination and injustice in the Family Court and elsewhere. Yet such groups may do little to help fathers heal or to build or maintain ongoing and positive relationships with their children. Some men do find support in these groups, but they also may be incited into anger, blame, and destructive strategies of litigation. The fathers’ rights movement prioritises formal principles of equality over positive parenting and the well-being of women and children. Some groups seem more concerned with re-establishing paternal authority and fathers’ decision-making related to their children’s and ex-partners’ lives than with actual involvements with children. However, other responses to separated fathers are more constructive.
The following provides a handy, one-page introduction to gender. It notes that gender is socially constructed, gender is both personal and collective, gender involves power and inequality, and there is diversity and hierarchy
This talk offers a stocktake of the White Ribbon Campaign in Australia: what it has achieved so far, the obstacles it faces, and the ways forward. I begin with an inspiring and accessible overview of the campaign: its character, its components, and its significance. I describe the campaign’s real achievements, its contributions to positive social change in community attitudes, relationships, and policy. I highlight the obstacles which the campaign faces. And I end by spelling out the key steps which can be taken – by ordinary men and women, policy-makers, managers, sporting bodies, and others – to make a difference. I urge that we use the F-word – feminism – to guide our efforts.
A new report highlights the everyday actions men can take to help reduce and prevent men’s violence against women. The report is titled Men Speak Up: A toolkit for action in men’s daily lives, and it was released on November 25th, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
The report is available at the following web address: http://www.whiteribbon.org.au/resources/research. (There is also an abridged version.)
Review of the determinants of men's intimate partner violence against women and of its prevention (2007)
This 17,000 word discussion presents a comprehensive review of both the determinants of men's intimate partner violence against women and of the strategies for its prevention.
I want to start by offering some good news. As far as we can tell, rates of violence against women in Australia have declined. Comparing the 2006 survey by the ABS and the last national survey in 1996, smaller proportions of women experienced physical or sexual violence in the last 12 months than ten years ago. I hasten to add though: the other side of this is that over 440,000 women experienced violence in the last year.
Why might rates of violence have declined? One factor is that community attitudes towards men’s violence against women have improved. Another factor may be growing gender equality in relationships and families, reducing men’s willingness or ability to enforce their dominance through violence and abuse.
The men’s movement is made up of networks of men self-consciously involved in activities related to men and gender. It emerged in the late 1960s and 1970s in Western countries, alongside and often in response to the women’s movement and feminism. The men’s movement, comprised of groups, networks, organisations, and events, engages in a variety of activities from self-help and support to political lobbying and activism.
The men’s movement is distinct from other mobilisations comprised largely of men such as the gun lobby or early trade unions by its self-conscious orientation towards gender issues. Twentieth century men’s movements have historical precedents such as organized male support for women’s suffrage in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (John and Eustance, 1997). While the term ‘men’s movement’ is useful in capturing the array of activities and organisations through which men have explored and contested gender relations, the term is problematic in several ways. In contrast to most other social movements, the men’s movement has had a largely therapeutic focus, is internally contradictory, and is comprised of members of a privileged group.