men, masculinities and gender politics

Authors

Michael Flood

Separated Fathers and the ‘Fathers’ Rights’ Movement (Journal article)

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.

Gender: A one-page introduction

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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

The White Ribbon Campaign: Achievements, obstacles, and ways forward (Speech, 2011)

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.

Men Speak Up: A toolkit for action in men’s daily lives

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)

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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.

Explaining, and preventing, intimate partner violence

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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.

Men's Movements (Encyclopedia entry)

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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.

When men are the victims of violence (Encyclopedia entry, 2007)

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The victims of violence often are male. This is true in particular of collective, public forms of violence (in wars, political conflicts, street and gang violence). For example, in areas of political conflict such as Palestine or Northern Ireland, young men have a greater exposure to and participation in violence than young women (Reilly et al. 2004). However, males also comprise a significant proportion of the victims of violence in relationships and families. The perpetrators of these diverse forms of violence also are predominantly male.

Building Men’s Commitment to Ending Sexual Violence Against Women (journal article)

Efforts to prevent sexual violence against women and girls now increasingly take as given that they must engage men and boys. The theatre-based intervention described in the previous issue of Feminism & Psychology (Rich, 2010) is one of a wave of programmes and strategies focused on males. Using that intervention as a springboard, this article asks: why should we engage men and boys in preventing violence against women, what strategies are under way and do they work? Educational interventions among males often invite them to become active or pro-social bystanders, taking action to stop the perpetration of specific incidents of violence, reduce the risks of violence escalating and strengthen the conditions that work against violence occurring (Powell, 2010: 6–7). However, engaging men in challenging rape-supportive norms and behaviours is hard work. This article concludes by discussing the barriers to, and supports for, men’s bystander interventions.

Men as Students and Teachers of Feminist Scholarship (Journal article)

When men participate as students in Women’s and Gender Studies (WGS) classrooms, they undergo feminist change. They adopt more progressive understandings of gender, show greater support for feminism, and increase their involvement in antisexist activism. Male students in WGS classrooms benefit to the same degree as female students, showing similar levels of change, although they start with poorer attitudes and thus the gap between them and their female peers persists. At the same time, male students’ presence highlights critical challenges to feminist pedagogy: gendered patterns of interaction, resistance to feminist teaching, and limitations on women’s critical reflections on personal experience. When men teach WGS, typically they are ‘‘graded up’’—evaluated by students as less biased and more competent than female professors. Male professors face distinct dilemmas in teaching about gender inequality from a position of privilege. Yet, like male students, they can adopt traitorous and antipatriarchal social locations and standpoints, developing pedagogies for and by the privileged.