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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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Finding Male-Oriented Solutions To The Problem Of Campus Rape And Sexual Assault

2 Feb

Our very own Cliff Cleek, PhD student at Stony Brook University and Program Director at the Center for the Study of Men & Masculinities, recently spoke on Wisconsin Public Radio about how to engage men in fighting sexual assault on college campuses.

You can listen to the interview here.

National Women’s Studies Association Annual Conference: bell hooks’ Keynote Speech

5 Jan

Late in 2014, Cheryl and I represented the blog and the Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities at the annual NWSA conference in Puerto Rico. The highlight of the several day event was the keynote speech given by feminist hero, bell hooks. (The entire speech can be found here.) In her talk, hooks discussed a variety of important topics: violence, male allies in feminism, the role of the academy, and the importance of love. Here, I’ll provide a brief overview.

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The Rape Culture Problem at UVA

1 Dec

University-of-Virginia-RotundaIf you haven’t read the Rolling Stone article entitled “A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA,” do so. The story outlines the horrifying gang rape of a freshman, Jackie, at the University of Virginia in 2012 and the response of the University following her rape. It’s a heartbreaking, yet necessary read, and points out some major flaws in how universities in the United States handle rape and sexual assault.

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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).

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.

Women/Men: The Next Conversation

8 Oct

A couple weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending the annual Women’s Power Conference at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York. The theme of this year’s conference was “Women/Men: The Next Conversation.” Combing through the roster of speakers prior to attending, I found a handful of familiar names—Carlos Andrés Gómez, Tony Porter, Michael Kimmel, Ted Turner—but the conference’s title still left me intrigued. What exactly would we be talking about? This was a women’s leadership event, yet men were being introduced to the conversation. “Sure,” I told Masculinities 101, “I’ll write about it.”

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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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#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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“don’t invent me” or “my dick is terrifying!”: Constructing the Male homunculus

4 Aug

 

thinker

 

  reflections, lessons, thoughts, frustrations, and ramblings as after-effects of the Steubenville Rape swirl

we’ve all heard about it. the “Steubenville Rape Scandal“, as it has been called (among other things), was/is everywhere. everyone was/is talking about it. and it should be talked about. but we wonder how rape should be discussed, characterized, disseminated. it seems a lot of people are unhappy about the type of attention the incident received, for a number of reasons. but the media lens seldom focuses on the truly hidden places. what should be talked about? how should it be talked about? when, why, and where should it be talked about? it’s tricky. we don’t have all the answers to all of these questions. we have some good theories and the beginnings of answers to them, sure – but definitive answers? no. not really. Continue reading

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