Men in the Post-2015 Development Agenda

26 Nov

Nearly 15 years ago, in September of 2000, all of the United Nations (UN) member nations and 23 international organizations committed to a set of 8 goals, now known as the Millennium Development Goals, which were understood to be a blueprint for a better world.  Each goal included a number of targets and benchmarks for the measurement of success, but all were intended to be reached by 2015.  Since 2000 the goals have served as a powerful, perhaps even the most powerful, guiding force for policy-making as well as public and private funding for international aid and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

The third goal, “to promote gender equality and empower women,” failed to take into account the role that men and boys can play in addressing inequality.  Indeed, the international development community has, until recently, largely overlooked the roles men can play as both sites and agents of change.  A lot has changed in the last 15 years. Continue reading

The Untold Story of Black Fatherhood

24 Nov

Photo by Matthew Brown

The great folks at Colorlines are currently running an extensive, brilliant and insightful series on Black Men: Life Cycles of Inequity. This week’s re-blogged article by Stacia L. Brown focuses on Black fatherhood. It first appeared on Colorlines.com on November 18 2014.

Thirty-five-year-old Tyrone Hopkins is like any number of black men I’ve known growing up in Baltimore. Sit down with him for a few minutes and he’ll talk to you like he’s known you forever. Everyone who lives in Baltimore says it’s like a big town, rather than a major urban city. “Smalltimore,” residents sometimes call it, because you can’t go far without finding a link to someone you’ve never met—a shared acquaintance, a common experience or a neighborhood connection. It’s like that with Hopkins, too. Ask him something personal and, if he’s cool with you, he’ll be candid, funny and cordial—even if it’s a difficult topic to discuss, like the ups and downs of life as a single black father.

Continue reading

International Men’s Day!

19 Nov

Today, November 19th, is International Men’s Day.  Feminists, Men’s Rights Activists, and everyone in between seem to have their own take on if and how the day should be celebrated.  We have compiled a few of our favorite takes on International Men’s Day here for you to consider:

Talking Masculinity on International Men’s Day – Cliff Leek

International Men’s Day – What are we celebrating? – Michael Kimmel

Today is International Men’s Day.  It can be a great feminist cause. – Ashwin Murthy

People Only Care About International Men’s Day on International Women’s Day – Frankie Goodway

International Men’s Day: When 35 Days Just Aren’t Enough – Michael Kaufman and Gary Barker

What do you think?  Should we celebrate?  And, if so, how?

 

autonomy & the subject

17 Nov

discussion about such abstractions as masculinities or femininities, must always invite the question of autonomy. with autonomy, or agency, comes responsibility and accountability. does what works for the individual necessarily work or benefit the whole? how do our individual moves shape, benefit, and harm theories and practices of everyday life?

let’s move on. follow me – this will get tricky. space/place interact in such a way as to compose a post-modern geography wherein liminality can be positioned as a location of disembodied identification – the liminal imaginary – a productive standpoint of the Othered. Continue reading

Only 1 week left to send in your Proposals for the 2015 International Conference on Masculinities

13 Nov

CSMM_ICM2015_logodates

Proposals for Presentations are due on November 20th 2014. You can read the call for proposals here.

The Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities (CSMM) will host the International Conference on Masculinities: Engaging Men and Boys for Gender Equality, in New York City. The Conference will take place from March 5th to March 8th 2015, immediately preceding the meeting of the Commission of the Status of Women (CSW) at the United Nations.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, a touchstone in the generations-long struggle for gender equality. Those twenty years have also witnessed unprecedented efforts to engage men around gender equality. The International Conference on Masculinities will bring together hundreds of activists, practitioners, and academic researchers from around the world who are working to engage men and boys in fulfilling the Platform for Action adopted by the CSW in Beijing.

Please read the full conference announcement here

And visit the conference website here.

Proposals for Presentations are due on November 20th 2014. You can read the call for proposals here.

Learning From The Missteps Of Our Brothers

5 Nov

The following post was originally published on Men Advocating Real Change (MARC), an online community for men committed to achieving gender equality in the workplace. MARC is an initiative of Catalyst, the leading nonprofit organization expanding opportunities for women in business. Find out more and join the conversation at onthemarc.org.


 

By Cliff Leek.

The United Nations (UN) marked the launch of its new campaign for gender equality on Saturday, September 20th with a special event at the UN Headquarters in New York. This new HeForShe campaign, dubbed the “UN Women Solidarity Movement for Gender Equality,” specifically aims to engage men in feminist efforts for gender equality and is a part of a growing global movement to involve men in gender justice work. So far nearly 200,000 men from all over the world have pledged “to take action against all forms of violence and discrimination faced by women and girls” as a part of the HeForShe campaign.

In addition to hundreds of thousands of men committing to do this work through HeForShe, the past month has felt like a parade male celebrities and other powerful men taking public stances on feminist issues (Aziz Ansari,President Obama, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and numerous others). As Slate writer Amanda Hess put it, “male allies are having a moment.”

In the midst of this “moment,” my social media feeds have been inundated by editorials and blog posts discussing every possible angle of men’s involvement in struggles for gender justice. Many writers have taken this moment to point to the various ways in which men can sometimes undermine our own good intentions and end up hindering the work we intend to support. Here are just a few:

Why I’m Not Really Here For Emma Watson’s Feminism Speech at the U.N. – Mia McKenzie

So You Want to be a Male Feminist? Maybe Don’t. – Kat Stoeffel

Male Allies Are Important, Except When They’re The Worst – Amanda Hess

#HeForShe, Domestic Violence, and Privileging Male Allies – Kenneth Kolb

If we are truly invested in changing the status quo by standing alongside women we need to take these concerns seriously.  We need not only to show up, but also to think critically about how we show up. A few writers in recent weeks have provided fuel for that critical thought:

So You Want to be a Male Feminist? Here Are 11 Simple Rules to Follow – Derrick Clifton

How to be a (Male) Feminist Ally – Elizabeth Pickett

After considering both the critiques of men’s involvement in feminism and the suggestions for how we can do/be better, I sat down to think about the lessons that I have learned in my efforts to support gender justice. What follows are the lessons that have been the most helpful in my own development as man involved in this work.

Do your homework.

What do I mean when I say “do your homework?” Well, I mean it quite literally.

As Elizabeth Pickett argued, “it’s your work, not the work of feminists, to educate yourself.” Too often we expect women to educate us on even the most basic feminist concepts when we could, just as easily, do our homework. We live in an era when trainings on-line and in-person are readily accessible for people who are inclined to educate themselves on issues of power and privilege. Seek out those trainings.

Learn on your own time. We should strive to make sure that our learning doesn’t come at the expense of the time and energy of women involved in other aspects of the work. Our education shouldn’t be a distraction from the movement.

See beyond self-interest.

Emma Watson, in her speech at the HeForShe launch event, argued that men should be involved in feminist work, at least in part, because gender norms are harmful to men too. In response, Mia McKenzie, of Black Girl Dangerous, wrote a scathing commentary arguing that “Telling men that they should care about gender inequality because of how much it hurts them, centralizes men and their well-being in a movement built by women for our survival in a world that degrades and dehumanizes us daily.” As she describes, not only does over-emphasizing men’s self-interest in feminist work displace women from a movement that is, at its core, about ensuring women’s well-being, but it also obscures the myriad ways in which men benefit from patriarchy.

Watson wasn’t wrong. Gender norms do have negative effects on men and feminist work to challenge those norms can go a long way in changing men’s lives for the better. That is one reason why men should strive to be feminists.

But, it shouldn’t be the sole reason. While it is important to recognize that feminism is good for men too, that doesn’t mean we should put men’s issues first as we join feminist work. Being in solidarity with feminist women does not mean we only show up when we stand to benefit from the conversation.

Don’t forget to look inward.

Finally, we have reached the toughest lesson of all.

Learning to examine and challenge patriarchy and gender inequality in the world around us is easy compared to seeing it and changing it in ourselves and in our own relationships.

Men who don’t turn their feminist analytical lens inward may miss the ways in which we can also be a part of the problem. Simply understanding feminism does not make us exempt from dominating conversations, taking charge when we shouldn’t, perpetrating microaggressions, or otherwise utilizing our privilege inappropriately.  Failing to examine and address these issues and behaviors in ourselves can not only make us hypocrites, but also position us as roadblocks or hindrances to the work we care deeply about.

Looking inward can be difficult.  Sometimes we don’t want to acknowledge, or simply don’t see the same things in ourselves that we so readily notice elsewhere. Because it can be so difficult, part of the process of looking inward can be setting up a system of mutual accountability with a friend or ally. It can help to develop a relationship with someone that you trust to be honest with you when they notice problematic behaviors.

Now, I don’t expect these lessons to be a panacea for men’s involvement in feminism. We will continue to struggle, we will continue to make mistakes, and we will continue to be less than perfect allies. But, perhaps by learning from the missteps of our brothers in this work we can learn to do/be better.

Cliff Leek is a founding editor of Masculinities101 and the Research Fellow / Community Manager for Men Advocating Real Change (MARC).

CRUSH

31 Oct

By Lyndol Descant

For me, crushes have turned out to be like a mind-trap or the ultimate carrot-and-stick scenario, ever dangling just out of reach but there to see; to entice.

Let me explain.

In the past my crushes have gotten me out of bed in the morning; the excitement, the thrill, the belief, or maybe it was hope, that he would eventually realize how wonderful I am and see that I deserve his love. And when he does, I will know for sure too. I will know with certainty that I too deserve good things.

But that never happened. It couldn’t. It can’t.

Romantic relationships are never as clean and easy as they are in our imaginations which, incidentally, don’t tend to indulge the realities of life; the complicated, messy, fleshed-out-by-difference-of-opinion and diversity-of-interest, realities of life.

Once I had a year-long crush on a peer who, one day, approached me, suggesting that we get coffee. What did I do? I ran in the opposite direction (literally and figuratively), yelling “thanks anyway”… over my shoulder.

Continue reading

A History of Divestment in Black Men

27 Oct

The great folks at Colorlines are currently running an extensive, brilliant and insightful series on Black Men: Life Cycles of Inequity. Today’s re-post features a video on the history of divestment in Black men, and an article that explains how black men have been cut out of economic opportunity initiatives for more than a century. They were first published at Colorlines on October 22nd 2014 by Imara Jones.

6 Ways the White House Can Help Truly Keep Our Brothers

After nearly six years of de facto silence on race, the White House this year swung into the harsh world that men of color inhabit with the unveiling of its “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative.

When compared to their white peers, black men are nearly half as likely to graduate from high school; earn $6 an hour less in the labor market; are three times as likely to live in poverty and 10 times as likely to have been a victim of homicide—not to mention off-the-charts incarceration rates. This depressing data has been well documented for over a generation and is not in dispute. To describe the totality of what’s going on, Marian Wright-Edelman of the Children’s Defense Fund drops the world “school” and simply dubs it “the cradle-to-prison pipeline.”

Continue reading

The Masculinities of Mario Dubsky

24 Oct

Detail of Good Friday Shadow _ Dubsky

I first discovered the work of Mario Dubsky in my final year of Art College, some 12 years ago. I was working on a series of paintings that explored bats and bat mythology. One day I was searching for some inspiration in the college library and came across a book of drawings by Dubsky[1]. At the time I looked upon his work with merely a visual art lens, enjoying his use of line and tone to create dark shadowy forms. The first drawing that grabbed my attention was ‘Good Friday Shadow’, which depicts a man naked but for an open shawl or shirt across his shoulders, arms out stretched in cruciform. It was the initial resemblance created by the out stretched arms and drooping shawl or shirt to that of the wings of a bat or vampiric creature that stirred my curiosity in Dubsky’s work.   Many of his drawings proved useful references to my own paintings at that time. Now at the early stages of a new series of painted works many years on, I have rediscovered Dubsky’s drawings and have been looking upon them with a masculinities lens.

Continue reading

Reminder: The International Conference on Masculinities – March 2015

23 Oct

CSMM_ICM2015_logodates

The Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities (CSMM) will host the International Conference on Masculinities: Engaging Men and Boys for Gender Equality, in New York City. The Conference will take place from March 5th to March 8th 2015, immediately preceding the meeting of the Commission of the Status of Women (CSW) at the United Nations.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, a touchstone in the generations-long struggle for gender equality. Those twenty years have also witnessed unprecedented efforts to engage men around gender equality. The International Conference on Masculinities will bring together hundreds of activists, practitioners, and academic researchers from around the world who are working to engage men and boys in fulfilling the Platform for Action adopted by the CSW in Beijing.

Please read the full conference announcement here

And visit the conference website here.

Proposals for Presentations are due on November 20th 2014. You can read the call for proposals here.

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