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Web Series For Teens Debunks Outdated Notions Of Masculinity

11 Dec

Screen Shot 2015-12-12 at 12.03.34 a.m.

Omega Access (OA) is a Toronto based non-profit media group ‘dedicated to the idea that outstanding, real-world men can inspire a new generation to see masculinity as a spectrum and not a binary’ (O’Brien, 2015). OA are one of Movember Canada’s newest men’s health partners, who seek to engage audiences in debunking outdated notions of masculinity. They endeavor to do achieve this by celebrating men with healthy lifestyles, alternative identities and productive passions.

OA recently launched a collection of cinematic profiles on ‘alternative men’, funded by The Movember Foundation (O’Brien, 2015). These 5-minute artistic shorts tackle topics, such as, mental health, physical health, vulnerability, family, inner-strength, community, sexuality and gender roles. The aim of these short films is to ‘visually demonstrate the broad spectrum of identities men can have and inspire young men to expand their meaning of masculinity’ (O’Brien, 2015).

These short films are powerful portraits of masculinity; real life stories, beautifully illustrating the multiplicity and fluidity of masculinity. The men featured in the films provide honest accounts of their own struggle in constructing masculine identities. These struggles center around their own construct of masculinity not aligning with hegemonic notions of what it means to be a man. Hegemonic masculinity creates problematic stereotypes, expectations and notions of what it is to be a man, whilst subordinating non-hegemonic masculinities. According to the creative director of this series, Marc O’Brien, OA are “showcasing new male role models that will help break stereotypes”.

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Man Hugs – Observing a Serial Hugger!

2 Dec

My best friend in UCD is a serial-hugger. He hugs indiscriminately – men, women, children, dogs,  senior lecturers and even heads of state!  Sometimes there’s a bit of cheek kissing, other times not. With men he meets it’s usually a big strong hug; one arm over your shoulder, the other under the opposite arm pit. It’s diagonal in composition, and allows for good gripping and a deep intimate embrace. Occasionally there is a little bit of backslapping. Sometimes there are two hugs in the space of a short meeting, one as a greeting, one as a farewell. I’ve become accustomed to his embraces, which by Irish standards are pretty lengthy. Recently, I’ve been paying attention to men’s reactions when they receive one of my buddy’s hugs; and I must admit from a masculinities perspective it’s extremely interesting (and at times very amusing).

Hugging Michael D. Higgins the President of Ireland

The serial hugger in question, hugging Michael D. Higgins – President of Ireland

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Masculinity and Mass Shootings in the US

24 Jul

Originally posted at Feminist Reflections

By Tristan Bridges and Tara Leigh

Following the recent mass shooting in Charleston, South Carolina on June 17th, 2015–a racially motivated act of domestic terrorism–President Barack Obama delivered a sobering address to the American people. With a heavy heart, President Obama spoke the day following the attack, stating:

At some point we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. And it is in our power to do something about it. I say that recognizing that politics in this town foreclose a lot of those avenues right now. But it would be wrong for us not to acknowledge. (here)

President Obama was primarily referring to gun control in the portion of his speech addressing the cause of attacks like this. Not all mass shootings are racially motivated, and not all qualify as “terrorist” attacks—though Charleston certainly qualifies.  And the mass shooting that occurred a just a month later in Chattanooga, Tennessee by a Kuwati-born American citizen was quickly labeled an act of domestic terrorism. But, President Obama makes an important point here: mass shootings are a distinctly American problem. This type of rampage violence happens more in the United States of America than anywhere else (see here for a thorough analysis of international comparisons). And gun control is a significant part of the problem. But, gun control is only a partial explanation for mass shootings in the United States. Mass shootings are also almost universally committed by men.  So, this is not just an American problem; it’s a problem related to American masculinity and to the ways American men use guns.  But asking whether “guns” or “masculinity” is more of the problem misses the central point that separating the two might not be as simple as it sounds.  And, as Mark Follman, Gavin Aronsen, and Deanna Pan note in the Mother Jones Guide to Mass Shootings in America, the problem is getting worse. Continue reading

Jumping for Masculinity

3 Jul

Recently my wife and I went for a stroll along a near by harbor and marina. We were enjoying each other’s company, happily taking in the fresh air, views of the yachts and fishing boats, the surrounding hills and mountains, and the deep dark sea. There was a strong breeze but the air was warm. We reached the end of the north pier and were looking down into the mouth of the harbor and over toward the south pier. There across the water on the opposite pier were three topless men. The men were jumping up and down, laughing and shouting; they were shadow boxing and shoving each other around.   My wife and I watched them for a moment, not quite sure what they were up to.

The men began jumping up onto the pier wall, looking over the pier edge to the water in the harbor below and then jumping back down off the wall. They then resumed their messing around, jumping up and down, and beating their chests like hairless apes. It was clearer now they were psyching themselves up to jump off the pier into the harbor, some thirty to forty feet below. Never wanting to miss a photo opportunity and curious of the scene that was unfolding, I turned to my wife and said – “let’s watch for a minute!”

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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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Are the Oregon Ducks the nation’s first “politically correct” football powerhouse?

9 Jan
Marcus Mariota running the ball against the Wyoming Cowboys (Source - Wikimedia Commons)

Marcus Mariota running the ball against the Wyoming Cowboys (Source – Wikimedia Commons)

This post was written by Michael Kimmel, Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies at Stony Brook University and founder of the Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities.

Is Oregon the first Politically Correct football team?  And could such a team win a national championship?

Consider this: following their systematic, upbeat, and perfectly executed demolition of previously unbeaten Florida State in the national semi-finals last week, Oregon players were seen on the sidelines imitating FSU’s “Tomahawk Chop” and singing along to their equally disgusting “Indian War Chant” the phrase that rings out across the country around sexual assault: “No Means No.”

Excuse me?  Were these football players?  Good football players? Continue reading

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).

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.

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A Positionality: Feminism and the ‘man (outside)’

13 Oct

feminism and standpoint

the most striking categories or patterns to emerge from my reading in feminist standpoint, lately, are the concepts of dualism and the Self. the reason i choose to focus, here, on two of these is because they are inexplicably interlocked and, as Sandra Harding states in her introduction to The Feminist Standpoint Theory Reader, “claims of any sort only have meaning in some particular cultural context – that is, relative to some set of cultural practices through which the meaning of the claim is learned and subsequently understood. claims thus have meaning ‘relative’ to that context of practices” (Harding, 2004). what is the Self, if not a claim to being – a grand declaration? if, as Harding states, all claims are “necessarily socially located…and thus permeated by local values and interests” (Harding, 2004), then the Self, for females (and males), is always already located within a hetero-patriarchal framework that doesn’t allow for an “adequate representation of the world from the standpoint of women [or men]” (Allison Jaggar, 1983). Continue reading

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