Archive by Author

Benefit Concert

3 Mar

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Fundraising is a difficult but important part of many feminist projects; interestingly, male privilege means it is often easier for men to raise money for a women’s shelter or hotline than for women to do it. If we take on some of that work, where our privilege is especially helpful, it also leaves women and people of other genders with more time and energy to devote where their specific life experiences give them more expertise!

 Unrelatedly: music is amazing. Musicians are often cool people, many just want to go out and share their talents with an audience, and some even write or cover songs specifically about gender justice! That said, the music industry is notoriously sexist – so it’s always good to push back against that a bit.

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International Conference on Masculinities: Themes and Thoughts

13 Mar

I’m writing this on the flight back from the International Conference on Masculinities in New York, which was an inspiring and energizing experience. It’s been a while since I wrote for Masculinities101, and having a chance to really engage with other people who are deeply involved in engaging men to reduce gendered inequalities got me motivated to write more. At the same time, the conference was definitely geared towards people who are connected to major organizations or institutions, so I wanted to take the opportunity to bring some of the themes from the conference out to folks who were not able to attend or might do their work in a different way. These are, of course, just the themes that stuck out to me, and some of them interact and overlap in complex ways that I won’t detail, but I wanted to provide a space where folks who were not at the conference could think about and discuss them as well.

Accountability – The conference was opened with a panel discussion entitled “Accountability in Activism and Research,” and the theme came up in nearly every conversation I heard thereafterfire. Continue reading

Some Men: Feminist Allies and the Movement to End Violence Against Women.

2 Mar

The International Conference on Masculinities is only a few days away! Today, we are excited to provide an excerpt from a new book by three featured speakers: You can hear Michael Messner, Max Greenberg and Tal Peretz on a featured panel on ‘Ally Tensions’ on Saturday March 7th, 11.15am in the Grand Ballroom. The following is an excerpt from their new book “Some Men: Feminist Allies and the Movement to End Violence Against Women”. The excerpt will also appear in the spring issue of VoiceMaleMagazine

Some Men

What does it mean for men to ally with women to stop gender-based violence?  This is the central question we tackle in our new book Some Men: Feminist Allies and the Movement to End Violence Against Women.  Based on life history interviews with 52 men anti-violence activists aged 22-70, and twelve women who work with these men, we explore the opportunities as well as the strains and tensions in men’s work to prevent sexual assault and domestic violence.

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Practice Your Responses

24 Jul

Masculine socialization encourages guys to behave in certain ways, and discourages us from other behaviors. This has been well understood since Bob Brannon described “the male sex role” in 1976: No sissy stuff (reject femininity), be a big wheel (achieve at all costs), be a sturdy oak (disregard emotions to be tough and independent), and give ’em hell (value aggression, violence, and risk-taking). This type of masculinity not only constrains men’s ability to live their lives fully, it also negatively affects men’s health – and while ideas about masculinity have shifted some since then, it is still pretty easy to see how masculine socialization contributes to the subordination and victimization of women.

If Brannon were writing his article today, I have a feeling one of his key phrases would be “Bros before hos.” Part of what masculinities scholar Michael Kimmel calls “The Bro Code,” this phrase discourages guys from intervening in other guys’ sexist behavior, and can make it really difficult to speak up when sexism or sexual violence are happening (in many violent gang-rapes, there are guys around who don’t participate, but also don’t do anything to intervene). Even smaller things like saying that you don’t find sexist jokes funny, or calling out street harassment, can be difficult if you don’t have any sense of how to do it – but they can also be among the most important ways men can show support for women’s equality.

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Wear Your Beliefs

25 Jun

 

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I’m writing this blog post in my favorite coffee shop, wearing my favorite t-shirt. It was a gift from a friend of mine, but that’s not why it is my favorite. It’s my favorite because it says “This is what a feminist looks like,” allowing me to wear my ethics out into the world, and I feel like I make a tiny dent in misogynist culture every time I wear it. Wearing this shirt declares that feminism is for everybody and that men have a stake in feminism and gender equality, without having to actually say anything at all. I receive compliments pretty much every time I wear this shirt, and occasionally get into really wonderful conversations as well. Continue reading

Mission Statement

22 May

 

This month’s activity for the groups is somewhat different: though it does have some consciousness-raising aspects, it is less about creating a project or event and more about shaping your group’s character and making it more effective in the long run. A mission statement is formal summary of your group’s goals and values; we’re going to use it to clarify your purpose, get everyone on the same page, and help the group stay focused for the long haul.

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Focus, Accountability, and Balance

21 Apr

Two weeks ago I went to New York to give two talks about my research with men’s anti-sexist groups. The first was by invitation of the Women’s Empowerment student group at Fordham University, the second was at SUNY Stonybrook’s Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities. Having presented some of my research at conferences for sociologists and gender studies scholars, I was really exciting to get to discuss my results with a student activist groups and a group of scholars that specifically researches men and masculinities. I was hopeful that I’d find new ways to make my research useful to people actually working on the ground, and I was not at all disappointed!

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Silhouettes of Gender-Based Violence

26 Mar

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This post will guide you through one of the most eye-catching ways I’ve seen to publicly display information about gender-based violence. As you can see in the picture, it involves constructing human silhouettes and writing facts of statistics on them. Framing the statistics inside representations of people makes it difficult to dismiss them as “just” numbers; using silhouettes asks the viewer to fill in the details themselves, connecting them to the piece, and adds a sense of absence or loss.

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A Letter to the Editor

24 Feb

 One important function of men’s anti-sexist groups is to stand up as examples, showing people that what we tend to think of as “women’s issues” are really social problems which affect all of us. Simply by existing, you give other men the opportunity to see these issues as things that affect them and that they can do something about, and simultaneously show women that they have allies and support among men.

But this only works if people see you and know about you! So, this month’s anti-sexist men’s group project is a way of letting more people see that you exist and are taking a stand: writing an opinion editorial or a “letter to the editor” of a newspaper or online news website. If you are a grassroots group, a local or regional newspaper might be a good fit; if you are a campus group, most campuses have a student newspaper, and they usually love to get materials from other students. Most papers in print explain their “letters to the editor” policies in each issue, and give you information on how to submit letters. If nothing local seems like a good fit, many communities have online media/news outlets—or if you’re very ambitious and feel qualified, you could try writing to a national newspaper or website.

This project is a nice way to get your group’s name out and publicize your stance on issues of sexism, sexual and relationship violence, or gender inequality more broadly. By making a public statement of your group’s position and anti-sexist commitments, you hold yourselves accountable to live up to your words, and inspire others to consider them as well. A letter to the editor can also be a good thing to keep in mind for the future, as a way of responding to something sexist or victim-blaming that a newspaper publishes or a public figure says, addressing something happening in current events, or drawing attention to a problem you want your community to address (which can be as specific as lack of lighting in a dangerous area or as broad as the continuing high statistics on domestic violence or sexual assault). When something comes up in your community, be ready to take a stand and write a letter to respond to it. If you’ve published in a paper before, that relationship may help you be published again when your voices are needed; even if not, you have the advantage of bringing a “fresh” take to an issue, because editors love a “man bites dog” story, and unfortunately that is still how men’s anti-sexist efforts are understood.

 

Benefits:

  • Shows lots of people that what we tend to think of as “women’s issues” are really social problems which concern all of us, and which men can get involved in changing.

  • Relatively quick and easy to put together (especially if you can avoid infighting over small details in the writing: remember, you are all on the same team, and if you can’t agree on a small point, you can write around it to get to the parts you do agree about).

  • Can be a really good way for your group members to get to know each other better, think through and discuss issues of sexism in a concrete and purposeful way, and work together on a concrete project. This may also include doing more research on an issue, and thus learning more about it yourselves.

  • Publicizes your group more widely and can help bring in members (if you include information about your group and invite people to join).

Examples:

How to Write a Letter to the Editor:

After you write the letter, proofread it and send it in quickly, before the timeliness of it fades. Follow up with a phone call the next day if you haven’t heard from the paper, and use it as an opportunity to advocate for your letter’s publication. If you get published, make sure to tell your friends to read the paper that day, save a clipping for your group’s records, and post a link or scan of your letter below!

 

Supply Drive! Assist a local domestic violence shelter.

24 Jan

So you have a small group of guys, you have a passion for social change and gender justice, and you have done some self-education so you feel pretty comfortable you won’t make a huge mess* (if you haven’t, this is for you). Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to go out and do something that feels like you are directly helping women who need it? Have a supply drive for a local domestic violence/battered women’s shelter**! Not only will it give you a sense of having concretely benefitted survivors of violence, but also has a few other benefits that recommend it:

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