Stop the Victim Blame. #HelpFindHannahGraham

29 Sep

enhanced-buzz-5927-1411599764-13Hannah Graham, a second-year attending the University of Virginia, went missing in the early hours of September 13, 2014. She is 5 feet, 11 inches tall with a slender build, blue eyes, light brown hair, and fair skin. Hannah Graham has been missing for 16 days. She was last seen on the Downtown Mall in Charlottesville. There is a lot of victim blame being thrown around.

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Week in Review 9/21-9/27

27 Sep

This week at Masculinities 101, we featured a two part post by frequent contributor, Peter Rauch. He gave us the history and current controversy surrounding what is being called Gamer Gate. For some reason, the post struck a nerve, and several people wrote nasty comments.* After sharing the blog post on my Facebook page, the same thing happened there. (You know you’re on to something when people come out of the woodwork for an attack.) We’d love to hear people’s actual thoughts (not just nasty emotional reactions) on this piece, so please share!

*On a side note, these comments forced us to evaluate our commenting policy—if you have nothing constructive to say, your comment won’t go up. Now, that is not to say you can’t be critical of the post, or that you have to agree with our politics at Masculinities 101. But if you are commenting simply to insult the writer or the blog, with nothing intelligent to offer on the topic at hand, well, we’re not going to stand for that.

And, unless you live under a rock, you’ve heard that Emma Watson gave a speech on men and feminism at the UN for the launch of the HeForShe campaign. We’re thrilled to see this topic getting international attention! Her speech has sparked conversations in traditional and social media forums, and it is worth sharing some of the feedback.
First, immediately after the speech, Watson was threatened with the release of nude photos. The threat turned out to be a hoax. Nevertheless, my guess is that, before finding out it wasn’t real, Watson experienced some distress. On that note, here are a few posts about the real meaning of these leaked photos (spoiler alert: SEXISM)…here, here, and here.

Far and wide, Watson was lauded for bringing feminism back into public discourse, and for defending it against claims that feminists “hate men.” But not all responses were so favorable. Here’s an important critique of the HeForShe campaign by Mia McKenzie from Black Girl Dangerous. Important points here include: the dangers of equating men’s experiences under patriarchy to women’s and the complete erasure of genderqueer folks from HeForShe. Her analogies to anti-racist and anti-homophobic activism really drive her points home.

Finally, from the Center for the Study of Men & Masculinities, Michael Kimmel wrote about Watson’s talk for Ms. Magazine.

Obviously, the Men’s Rights groups were (predictably) in an uproar about the speech, but I don’t feel like going into more than to say their responses were fairly typical. Feel free to google for those.

#GamerGate and the Politics of Resentment (Part 2)

24 Sep

(This is Part 2 of an article series that explores a case of harassment in online gaming known as #GamerGate. Please read Part 1 of this post here. Part 2 argues that the sexist harassment campaign is rooted in resentment against current changes in the gaming industry.)

In the early days of the harassment campaign against Zoe Quinn – indie game developer, critic, and cyborg - before the campaign was given its name, a number of editorials were written on a curiously specific theme: the cultural category of “gamer,” and how those who play games relate to it. On Kotaku, Luke Plunkett wrote of the “Death of An Identity.” “Gaming is a hobby I’ve had (on and off) for most of my life,” wrote Emma M. Woolley in The Globe and Mail, “but I’ve never called myself a gamer.  One reason is that while playing video games is something I enjoy, it doesn’t define who I am; another is that I don’t identify with many people who do call themselves gamers.” The “gamer” label has been a problem for games writers for some time; never literally describing everyone who plays any kind of games (which is to say, almost everyone), it’s traditionally been used to exclude casual games, mobile platforms, or certain genres. In its most nativist form, “gamer” (often appended by the modifier “real”) is a term used to denote a class of consumers that cares about gaming more than anyone else, competes more fiercely than anyone else, and is thus deserving of special attention from the industry and the press that covers it. In academic circles, there have been attempts to expand the category of “gamer” to better represent the variety of players out there. These editorials were taking the opposite tack: if this is what “real gamers” really want “gamer” to mean–young white men with disposable income who respond to academic criticism with death threats–then fuck ‘em. Let them have it. “‘Gamer’ isn’t just a dated demographic label that most people increasingly prefer not to use,” wrote Leigh Alexander for Gamasutra. “Gamers are over. That’s why they’re so mad.”

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#GamerGate and the Politics of Resentment (Part 1)

22 Sep

In an earlier post on Masculinities 101, I detailed the emergence of a specific masculine identity emerging in and around videogame culture. This masculinist gamer contingent is reflexively hostile towards criticism, and in recent years has been making headlines detailing their attempts to harass and silence women in the wider videogame community. Somewhere in the middle of that list was Zoe Quinn, indie game developer, critic, and cyborg. Quinn, along with co-writer Patrick Lindsey and musician Isaac Shankler, is the developer of  Depression Quest, an interactive fiction game exploring the experience of depression. After a year of availability on the web, Quinn was beset by an online harassment campaign when she brought the game to the Steam service, an online digital distribution platform for PC games. Recently, newfound attacks on Quinn have snowballed into a “scandal” known as GamerGate.

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Masculinities 101 Week in Review: September 19, 2014

19 Sep

As always, we bring you your weekply roundup of all things men and masculinities-related here:

Let’s start with what you can find here on Masculinities 101 this week.

On Monday we featured a post, “A Fat Boy Trapped Inside a Thin Man’s Body” by Aaron Sternlicht, reblogged from our friends at Endangered Bodies, NYC, that highlights a number of complicated ways in which masculinity is embodied and how body image affects men.

On Wednesday we shared another portion of the wonderful series on Colorlines about Black men.  This installment takes on the adjustments that many Black men face after exiting prison.

But what else is happening in the world of men and masculinities?

Screen-shot-2014-09-08-at-9.14.49-AMOur friend and assistant professor of sociology at SUNY Brockport, Tristan Bridges, wrote a wonderful piece reviewing and expanding upon Pixar’s Boy Stories: Masculinity in a Postmodern Age, a new book by Shannon Wooden.  His work, originally written for Feminist Reflections, has gained a lot of attention and has been reblogged on Inequality by (Interior) Design and Huffington Post.

Tomorrow night (Saturday, September 20th), UN Women is hosting the launch event for their new initiative aimed at bringing more men and boys into global work for gender justice, HeForShe.  The campaign, dubbed a “solidarity movement for gender equality,” emphasizes that gender equality is a human rights movement and argues that in the end gender equality will benefit everyone.  You can watch the launch event online at 5PM EST.

Out of Prison, but Not Free

17 Sep

Colorlines is running an extensive, brilliant and insightful series on Black Men: Life Cycles of Inequity. This video, produced by filmmaker André Robert Lee focuses on the adjustments of Black men after exiting prison. Colorlines’ Kai Wright writes:

They’ve all served many years in Louisiana’s infamous Angola penitentary. The state incarcerates a greater share of its residents than any government in the world, and the overwhelming majority of those prisoners are black men. The same is true nationally—one study estimated there are 65 million people with criminal records in the country. The men André spoke with described the emotional scarring those millions of people are carrying around with them—the myriad not-so-obvious readjustments they are still trying to make as they reenter society, with their families, lovers, friends and coworkers. We invite you to hear what they have to say, and to share it with your networks.

A Fat Boy Trapped Inside a Thin Man’s Body

15 Sep
Aaron, before and now

Aaron, before and now

By Aaron Sternlicht

I’ve never taken my shirt off at the beach. I’m barely comfortable looking at myself naked in front of a mirror; how would you expect me to be comfortable in front of another human being. I’ve been overweight for most of my life. At the age of 25 I found myself having to buy size 44 pants because I could no longer fit into my 42’s. I was incredibly insecure, self-conscious, had low self-esteem and had a tremendous amount of anxiety and depression that stemmed from my obesity. Tipping the scale at 280 pounds at 5 foot 10 inches, I had reached my breaking point. I had enough and was ready to finally do something about my problem. It was the first time in my life that I was determined to take back control of my body. I started to eat less, eat healthier and joined a gym. In less than a year I lost over 100 pounds. It has been over three years since I started my weight loss journey. I’ve maintained my goal weight and today healthy nutrition and regular exercise are staples in my life. In fact, physical fitness has become somewhat of a passion of mine.

But I still won’t be taking my shirt off at the beach.

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Masculinities 101 Week in Review: September 12, 2014

12 Sep

Your weekly essential catch-up on all things men and masculinities-related here:

Fem & the ArchiveTODAY, Feminism & the Archive roundtable at the CUNY Graduate Center that will bring together a variety of perspectives on feminism and the archive, broadly conceived. Participants will speak about their work about and in the archive as archivists, scholars, and feminists, as well as how archival research  allows us to consider and re-conceive of feminist genealogies and genres. Work to be discussed includes autobiographical accounts of the 1970s and 80s  that explore how and why various feminist expressions were used by U.S. feminists writers to mobilize subjects, identities, and communities as well as archival analysis of the genealogy of queer theory in 1980s feminism through representations of sexuality in visual culture.

This week on Soc Images, Man Up, Ladies! draws attention to a Glamour magazine article suggesting that women should exhibit masculine characteristic (through dress mainly) in order to succeed in the specific parts of the workforce. Also featured is a piece that considers the compatibility factors of homogamy, when couples are “more likely than not to match on a whole host of characteristics: age, income, education level, race, religion…” within the context of dating sites like OKCupid.

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The International Conference on Masculinities: Engaging Men and Boys for Gender Equality. Call for Proposals

8 Sep


The International Conference on Masculinities:
Engaging Men and Boys for Gender Equality

On March 6-8, 2015, 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 is timed to immediately precede the meeting of the Commission of the Status of Women (CSW) at the United Nations,

Twenty years after the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, the CSW will hold its annual two-week meeting, March 9-27, 2015, in New York. Thousands of participants from UN agencies, NGOs and national governments will discuss the progress made towards greater gender equality over the past two decades.

Those twenty years have also witnessed unprecedented efforts to engage men around gender equality.  The CSMM conference aims to bring together more than 500 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.  It will review the success of programs to engage men and boys, share research-in-progress, discuss new and possible policy initiatives, and chart research needs for the future.

The Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities was established at Stony Brook University (SUNY) in 2013. The Center is dedicated to interdisciplinary research on boys, men, masculinities and gender.  Its mission is to bring together researchers with practitioners and activists to develop and enhance social reform projects focusing on boys and men.

For this conference, CSMM has partnered with the American Men’s Studies Association, and the MenEngage Network, to build opportunities for dialogue, critique and inspiration across three days of presentations, panels, workshops, and trainings. The twin goals of the conference are: (1) To infuse men’s activism in support of gender justice with the rigor and insights of the most up-to-date research;  (2) to increase cooperation and ties between academic researchers who address various gender issues, and feminist activists, practitioners, and advocates.

CSMM invites all those committed to engaging boys and men in these global efforts to promote gender equality to share their ideas, programs, projects, and research.

Some basic themes of the conference will include:
– boys’ healthy development and education;
– involved fatherhood;
– balancing work and family life;
– men’s friendships;
– promoting men’s health, reducing health risks and HIV, and supporting women’s reproductive health and rights;
– joining the global struggle against men’s violence against women, sexual assault, trafficking, and harmful traditional practices;
– engaging men in policies to promote gender equality in education, employment, social life, and the political arena.

Some specific issues might include:  transforming fatherhood;  working with boys and young men;  challenges of reaching men in post-conflict settings;  preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS;  men and aging, disability, impairment, and illness;  diverse masculinities;  multi-cultural coalition building;  challenging homophobia;  understanding and preventing gang-rapes and mass-murders by boys and men;  engaging religious authorities;  boys’ education;  challenging bullying, harassment, and domestic abuse;  working with abusive & violent men;  men and child-custody issues;  campus programs for preventing sexual violence;  men in prisons;  men and the military;  men and prostitution;  gender-linked alcohol and drug abuse;  men’s depression and suicide, and other topics.

Presentations can cover research, policy, interventions, and activist work. Presentation formats may include: 3 -5 person panels, short one-person talks (with Q-&-A), workshops, films, art, poster presentations, informal roundtable discussions, music, and performances. We will accept formal academic papers but at the conference we will ask that presenters not read papers but to be more informal and interactive, within the context of language possibilities. The premium at each session will be on discussion.

The working language will be English.  Sessions completely in Spanish, French, Arabic, and Chinese may be accepted but the conference unfortunately cannot provide the resources for translation.

Conference costs will be kept low to enable widespread participation, and some limited financial support may be available to those in need, especially from the Global South.

Proposals may be submitted online ( and any questions about the proposal process may be directed to

The deadline for proposal submission is October 31st, 2014.

Please visit the Conference Website.

Week in Review, Sept 5th

5 Sep

Check out this week’s original content “Where’s my Manhood? And other Questions about Nothingness”.

Gloria Steinem and friend of the blog Michael Kimmel write about consensual sex on college campuses in a New York Times Op/Ed.

The new professional football season is upon us. At The Nation, Dave Zirin questions the NFL’s commitment to being a force against domestic violence in light of the leagues handling of domestic violence by its employees in the past, while Jessica Luther lays out how and why sports can -and should – play a role in challenging homophobia and rape culture. On a related note, the BBC Sportshour Podcast features an interview with former college player Katie Hnida about sexual violence, sports and social change.



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