[Note: The text of this talk is below. But if you want to see a video of the talk as it was delivered, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHnpNyyhjhw.]
Language warning. I’m going to use the ‘F word’, a lot, in this talk. And that word is feminism. I’ve got two simple messages. Feminism needs men. And men need feminism.
A growing body of international scholarship documents that significant proportions of children and young people are exposed to pornography. Different studies define ‘pornography’ in varying ways or allow research participants to do so, and some do not distinguish between different kinds of pornographic media (videos, internet sites, and so on) or between accidental and deliberate exposure. Nevertheless, it is clear that large numbers of young people, particularly boys, are growing up in the presence of sexually explicit media.
Debates regarding pornography – its use, significance, and regulation – should be based on informed understanding and research. While there has been little research on pornography in Australia, a recent book titled The Porn Report has become a common reference point in some contemporary debates. However, the book and its research have important methodological and theoretical limitations. This article provides a critical assessment of the book, comparing its findings and arguments with wider scholarship on pornography.
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. However, a very different understanding of domestic violence is now increasingly visible. Here, domestic or family violence is seen to be gender-equal or gender-neutral. In this paper, I assess this claim. I will demonstrate that there is no ‘gender symmetry’ in domestic violence, and there are important differences between men’s and women’s typical patterns of victimisation and perpetration.
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 in PDF below.