Category: Articles

TRANS/gressive: How Transgender Activists Took on Gay Rights, Feminism, the Media and Congress… and Won!

By Riki Wilchins Photos by Mariette Pathy Allen Before Caitlyn Jenner became America’s most famous transgender personality, Riki Wilchins was leading the fight for transgender rights. In the new first-person history-memoir TRANS/gressive: How Transgender Activists Took on Gay Rights, Feminism, the Media & Congress… and Won!, Wilchins recounts the long and winding road of trans rights from the early days of anti-trans rights in segments of the feminist movement, to the murder of transwomen such as Brandon Teena, through the fight to include trans rights in the “Gay and Lesbian” community. “This was a story that I thought might...

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Summer 2017 Edition

Features TRANS/gressive: How Transgender Activists Took on Gay Rights, Feminism, the Media and Congress… and Won! Riki Wilchins Middle East Men and Gender Equality: Tradition and Modernity at a Crossroads Gary Barker and Alexa Hassink Masculinity, Machismo and Corruption Héctor Portillo and Sebastián Molano Will Men Ever Do Half of the World’s Childcare? Alexa Hassink and Brian Heilman Patriarchy Unmasked Robert Jensen Wrestling with “Required Masculinity” Carl Erikson A Call to Men to Embrace Gender Equality Abhijit Das Male Empowerment. Really? Maria Correia Where Have All the Good Men Gone? Emily Cataneo   Columns From the Editor Taking on...

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Mail Bonding

Middle East DV Delegates Meet Voice Male At the International Center of Worcester we work to promote citizen diplomacy by designing and implementing professional and cultural programs for international visitors sponsored by local and foreign governmental and nongovernmental agencies, private companies, universities, and individuals. Earlier this year, the State Department identified Voice Male magazine as a great resource to highlight how the publication addresses the role of traditional media publications in gender equality and violence prevention campaigns. Through the Center’s International Visitor Leadership Program, delegates from Algeria, Chad, Iraq, Jordan, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia came to the U.S. in...

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Where Have All the Good Men Gone?

Despite the work profeminist men have been doing for decades to transform our own ideas about manhood and to promote women’s safety and gender equality—and our efforts to advance a more politically engaged, compassionate and accountable expression of masculinities—many women and men remain unaware of our work. In the commentary below, feminist writer Emily Cataneo exhorts more men to show up on behalf of women. Men! Hello there, men! You nice guys, you soft bois, you f**k boys; you manarchists, you tech bros, you entrepreneurs; you politicians, you beta males, you alpha males. Are you listening? I have a question for you: Where are you? Specifically: where are you in the feminist movement? In the early 20th century, when women sought the right to vote, many of you were there to support the legislation that would become. But where are you in 2017, when seven states are now home to only one abortion clinic and our elected officials are questioning why men should pay for maternal healthcare? Men, we’re in trouble. Despite the perks of the more egalitarian world into which many millennial women were born, we need feminism today more than ever. So where are you, gentlemen? You marched on January 20, but where are you now? Where are the impassioned New York Times columns written by men about the importance of the feminist movement? Where are the...

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Male Empowerment. Really?

By Maria Correia Donald Trump’s unabashed degradation of women, as well as the risks to women posed by the new American Health Care Act, are a dismal reminder that the struggle of women for dignity, fair treatment and equal rights is far from over. Empowering women thus remains a human rights priority—including in the U.S.. But if we are striving for a gender-equitable society, a sole focus on women is not enough; we must also empower men. Of course, not in the conventional sense by giving men more power over women and over other men. Rather, by empowering men to challenge the prevailing social norms that lead to gender imbalances and by giving them the space to adopt new roles and behaviors as men. The need to work with both women and men on gender issues seems obvious. Gender is a complex human system and women and men are integral parts of this social structure. Both contribute to and are affected by the system. Meaningful change and disruption of the system requires both women and men. Empowering women and expecting men to follow is unrealistic. But challenging rigid gender norms, which have taken centuries to evolve, is not easy—particularly for men. Across societies, men are critically judged and assessed based on the dominant ideals of manhood, which generally means being tough, strong, resilient, exercising control over women and others,...

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A Call to Men to Embrace Gender Equality

By Abhijit Das Every day the news is painfully familiar. A man in the U.S. has shot students in a school or travelers at an airport; a gang of young men has had a street fight somewhere leaving many dead and wounded; a young man is arrested in a European country for being part of a terrorist plot that killed and maimed dozens; somewhere else, a man has raped a girl; a brother has shot his sister for planning to marry a man of her choice in Pakistan; a father killed his children and then his wife before hanging...

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Wrestling with “Required Masculinity”

For each man, one of the most persistent questions in his life is, “Am I a man?” or, more likely, “Am I man enough?” For each boy, the biggest question is, “When will I be a man?” or, “What do I have to do to be a man?” In Carl Erikson’s new book, The Challenges of Masculinity, a longtime leader of men’s support groups unpacks what he’s dubbed Required Masculinity, “the most enforced and expected form of masculinity in our culture.” Required masculinity is “rigid,” Erikson says, “in many ways harmful to men, to people generally, and to communities.”...

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Patriarchy Unmasked

In the excerpt below from his timely new book, The End of Patriarchy: Radical Feminism for Men, Robert Jensen challenges men not just to reject patriarchy, but also to embrace feminism. More than articulating a cogent argument cataloguing the terrible harm patriarchy inflicts on women—and its poisonous impact on men—Jensen shares his own awakening to feminism through insights he first began having more than three decades ago. He invites men to confront our fear of giving up privilege as a necessary step to take on the road to an egalitarian, feminist-informed future—a world where men can be free. Three...

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Will Men Ever Do Half of the World’s Childcare?

In June, when millions of families celebrated Father’s Day, for some the celebration was muted. In no country in the world do men’s contributions to unpaid care work equal women’s. And, at the current rate of involvement it is estimated it will take 75 years to reach gender equality. That is one of the findings in the second ever State of the World’s Fathers report released in Belgrade, Serbia, at a gathering just before Father’s Day that brought together nearly 100 activists, academics, and practitioners from across 50 countries. Globally, on average, the time women spend daily on caring...

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Masculinity, Machismo and Corruption

Héctor Portillo and Sebastián Molano grew up in Mexico and Colombia respectively, countries where corruption is normalized to the point where not engaging in it is not only considered rare but naïve. They say that their countries also have deeply embedded cultures of sexism and machismo, noting that their “personal experiences with sexism, masculinities, and corruption motivated [them] to explore how the expectations, pressures, and privileges of ‘being a man’ can encourage or deter an individual’s engagement in corruption.” The ideals men and boys are expected to live up to are called “masculinities.” Masculinities are socially constructed and reinforced,...

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From Absent Fathers to Involved Dads

Absent fatherhood in South Africa has been on the rise since 1996, when only about half (49 percent) of fathers were reported to be present in the lives of their children. On the African continent, only Namibia has a higher rate of absent fathers. Only 37 percent of fathers in South Africa were present in the lives of their children in 2015, according to data released by the government study “Statistics South Africa.” As a result of this high rate of absent fatherhood, women are bearing the brunt of raising children, and children are growing up without the positive...

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Daddy, Where Are You?

In 2013, Belgian hip-hop artist Stromae released the single “Papaoutai.” In the song, he expresses frustration with his absent father, continually asking in the chorus: “Où t’es, papa, où t’es?” (“Daddy, where are you?”). In the accompanying music video, a young boy tries to reach his unresponsive father. The boy claims that though everyone knows how to make babies, nobody appears to know how to “make fathers.” Tragically, the boy is unable to connect with his father, and in the end we see him becoming like his father: absent, uninvolved, and unresponsive. The video not only alludes to the...

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Middle East Men and Gender Equality: Tradition and Modernity at a Crossroads

That was a key finding of a new survey that directed a wide-angle, comparative lens on the lives of men—as sons and husbands and fathers, at home and at work, in public and private life. The study of nearly 10,000 individuals discovered manhood in the region is at a crossroads. Will more men move toward gender equality or adhere to the more patriarchal views of their fathers? The survey participants were from Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, and the Palestine Territories. The International Men and Gender Equality Survey: Middle East and North Africa (IMAGES MENA) was launched in May in Beirut,...

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The Tragedies of Black Masculinity

I remember the feeling I had when I saw the text come in from a friend back home. The text read, “Y’all hear about North Park Elementary?” All I could do was think about the feeling I had in the pit of my stomach when I got the same text about the terrorist attack that took place in my hometown of San Bernardino, Calif., back in 2015. My friend followed up the first text with more information about how gunman Cedric Anderson went into his estranged wife’s elementary school classroom and took not only her life but also those...

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Taking on the Misogyny of a Failed President

Photo by Samantha Sophia By Rob Okun The white male bully temporarily occupying the White House represents the worst expression of manhood the U.S. has ever seen, but that dangerous truth is being obscured by so many of his other treacherous actions. Millions of words have been written excoriating the questionably elected president on a host of topics — from denying climate change to restricting minority voting rights; from sanctioning draconian drug laws to promoting harsh prison sentences for nonviolent offenders. Almost entirely absent in this blizzard of assaults on social progress is the predator-in- chief’s misogyny. A virtual...

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Spring 2017 Edition

The MenEngage Gender Equality Issue with reports from: Brazil, Congo, India, Kenya, Kosovo, Lebanon, Sweden, & Uganda Features Young Men’s Journey to Gender Equality in Kosovo by Maike Dafeld Besnik Leka promotes gender equality with CARE International’s Young Men Initiative in Kosovo. In an interview with Maike Dafeld, editor of Balkan Perspectives, he reveals why gender equality is closely linked to dealing with the past, and shares his personal motivations for working for gender equality. Changing Congo Men’s Attitudes on Gender Begins at Home By Odette Asha with Inge Vreeke “I couldn’t accept my share of his will if...

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Spring 2017: Men @ Work

Kudos for Kuros! A U.S.-based company is getting selfdefense products into the hands of women around the world. Kuros! recently donated 2,000 cans of pepper spray to women in the Philippines, where females are the daily targets of violence and sexual assault. Company founder Kuro Tawil says his business wants to give women “a fighting chance” at protecting themselves from assault and allowing them to live their lives without fear. “We are committed to changing women’s lives on a global scale,” Tawil said. For every Kuros! product sold, the company founder says, a can of pepper spray is provided to a woman who could not otherwise afford it. The firm has reached out to women in several countries, including South Africa, India, and El Salvador. Kuros! and Willi Hahn Enterprises, a retailer of outdoor sporting goods, teamed up with Gabriela, the Alliance of Filipino Women working for freedom and democracy, to reach vulnerable women across the country. They began delivering pepper spray last November in honor of the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. For more information visit kuros.com/. Challenging Russia’s Dangerous Domestic Violence Laws In Russia, a woman sustains injuries from domestic violence every 12 minutes. That’s 36,000 women each year, although the number may be higher since there is no official record keeping of family violence cases. So says activist Alena Popova...

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Mail Bonding

Countering Misogyny in the White House I learned a lot from reading the Voice Male anthology. Thank you for the important work you do to counter the misogyny that was revealed by the election campaign. I am appalled that an admitted sexual predator is now our President, and I was proud to march in Boston on January 21 with my wife and others from my Episcopal church. I’m hoping to get involved with a local organization that is working to end sexual and domestic violence. Keep fighting the good fight! Dan Fields Framingham, Mass. Helping My Sons Explore Privilege—and Feminism I purchased the Voice Male book several months ago when I started looking for books about feminism for men. I have five children, my eldest daughter is almost 17 and I have four sons (two sets of twins, 15 and 10). I’ve been a feminist my whole adult life and now that my children are exploring issues of privilege and intersectionality, I’ve been looking for resources for my sons that they can connect with. They are interested, open-minded and curious, but also challenged and overwhelmed by it all. Their sister is like their mom was at her age and pretty fierce, which means I spend a lot of time helping my sons navigate mixed and challenging feelings about masculinity and feminism—which is good, but hard work. I have a...

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To Be a Man

By Eric McGriff and Anthony McGriff When they were 16 and co-chairs of their high school’s White Ribbon antiviolence campaign, twin brothers Eric and Anthony McGriff began volunteering at Vera House, a domestic and sexual violence prevention and intervention agency in Syracuse, N.Y., and say they have been working to end sexual and relationship violence ever since. They are now 23. I am a ride or die type of guy, This means that my loyalty is unwavering and I will never hesitate to throw that first punch. So if you ask me… “What does it really mean to be a man?” For me, it means being strong Even when I am weak. It means holding it down, Even when no one is there to hold me up. And when it becomes too much, I’ve learned to just suck it up, Even when I can barely hold it in. I remember being 5 years old, falling down, and my coach told me to brush it off… I was on the verge of tears I remember being 10 and learning that it was an insult to be called gay. I remember being 15 years old and knowing that if I had to fight someone to prove that I am not a pussy, then that is exactly what I was going to do. But now, I think of my mother and all...

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Celebrating the Birth of a Girl

By Richa Singh The birth of a son in Haryana, a state in northern India, is celebrated by beating a thali, a steel plate. While a son is honored, a daughter’s birth is frowned upon. The birth of a son is a matter of prestige, proudly announced to the whole community. Neem branches are hung and sweets are distributed. All traditional rituals are performed, accompanied by a huge celebration. If a girl is born, however, only the most basic rituals are performed. In fact, if a family is “blessed” with two or more girls, their birth is actually mourned. Social norms are s t r e n g t h e n e d by these rituals. Girls are regularly named Bhateri or Ram Bhateri, which means “the last one” or “the end.” Haryana is known for having a low “sex ratio” and a lower child sex ratio. Sex ratio is the number of females per 1000 males. According to the 2011 census (the last year for which statistics are available), the sex ratio in Haryana was 879 girl children born for every 1000 boys. A low sex ratio reflects the value given girls and women in the society. In a patriarchal society, women are viewed as a burden, devalued. What results is both discrimination and violence against women. Breakthrough—a human rights organization that works to make violence and...

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Audio Stories Spark Shift in Men

By Usha Rai Nitesh Verma, 33, a tailor in a village in Rajasthan’s Bundi district, is married and has a daughter, seven, and a son, two. Every morning when he woke up, his wife would be waiting with a steaming cup of hot tea for him, before busying herself with other household chores. He never offered any assistance. One night he heard “Dulhan ki batein,” an audio story on his mobile phone that talked about gender issues in a way that got him thinking. It was part of the Kishor Varta education program being implemented in 30 senior and...

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Crying: A Man’s Most Courageous Act?

By Benjamin Perry Crying is a courageous act. That might sound paradoxical, but juxtaposed against the expectation of male stoicism, tears are subversive and powerful. And, at long last, more and more men are casting aside toxic masculinity’s restrictive norms to live into healthier male identities. Two recent political moments, to me, embody this movement and all its attendant challenges and triumphs. The first happened not long ago: In a speech decrying Donald Trump’s executive order banning refugees from seven nations, New York Senator Chuck Schumer— surrounded by refugees—choked up. His eyes filled with tears as he labeled the president’s action “mean spirited and un-American.” This poignant moment was not shocking, in and of itself. It shouldn’t be surprising that the Senate minority leader’s heart swelled with emotion as he spoke out against the ban, flanked by those who stand to concretely suffer from its implementation. What is notable, however, is the speed with which the president pointed out how Schumer transgressed traditional masculine bounds. As airports thronged with protesters, Trump blamed the ensuing chaos on “the tears of Senator Schumer.” Later, in an interview, Trump claimed that Schumer must have been faking the tears—ginning up emotion for the cameras—seemingly oblivious to why Schumer might be overcome with emotion. Trump’s dismissive and bullying attitude is simply a grotesque and overt iteration of the kinds of criticism men always risk...

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Nelson Mandela’s Evolving Masculinity

By Raymond Suttner In these times of widespread violence perpetrated by men, we may learn from Nelson Mandela’s model of masculinity. The main biographies of Nelson Mandela do not consider him as a gendered subject. Yet Mandela’s evolving masculinity shows the type of man he represented. He changed a lot over the years—he changed as a man and as a human being. His identity as a man cannot be reduced to one single, enduring quality. Men have always dominated the African National Congress (ANC) at a formal political level. The discourse of the organization has reflected masculine idioms. Mandela was part of the rebellious youth league tradition, which attacked the ANC leadership at the time while embracing the same masculinist imagery of overcoming the “emasculation” of African men and “recovering manhood.” Mandela came to embody a heroic, martial tradition in the underground and military activities of the ANC, an image he shared later with younger people such as Chris Hani, the South African Communist Party leader and fierce opponent of the apartheid government who was assassinated in 1993. This fighting image is foreshadowed in the notion of Mandela being a boxer, a role with wide township appeal, in some ways akin to the admiration shown the tsotsis (youth gangs). And Mandela was a flashy dresser, like those tsotsis and the musicians of the 1950s. At one of his most...

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Transforming Gender Norms

By MenEngage Alliance On September 25, 2015, governments around the world adopted a set of goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda. Major goals included: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years. For the goals to be reached, everyone needs to do their part: governments, the private sector, civil society and everyday citizens. The MenEngage Alliance recommends a gendertransformative framework...

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Advancing Women’s Economic Empowerment

By MenEngage Alliance In advance of the 61st session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, “Women’s Economic Empowerment in the Changing World of Work” and its concurrent theme addressing the challenges and achievements in implementing the millennium development goals for women and girls, the MenEngage Alliance, with support from Rutgers University’s 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign, wrote a statement of support with recommendations for governments to follow. Among the contributors to drafting the statement was MenEngage Alliance global coordinator Joni van de Sand, who contributed this edited excerpt. Women’s economic empowerment has to be about women- and girl-led initiatives to transform the systemic factors underlying women and girls’ disempowerment, and it also must be about advancing women and girls’ autonomy and leadership. Although today more women than ever are in the workforce, around the world women are often in precarious, informal jobs, receive less pay than men for equal work, and are underrepresented in leadership positions. Women face a wide array of systemic barriers to full economic empowerment, including rigid gender norms around men’s and women’s roles in society. Furthermore, women continue to spend two to 10 times more of their time on unpaid care work than men and boys, including child care, elder care, and domestic activities. As a result, women’s time for other pursuits such as paid work, education, or...

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Uganda’s Coo Makwiri (“Role Model Men”)

A CARE Uganda Special Report Ojok Mark, 31 years old, spent his early life in a displaced persons camp in the Gulu District of Uganda. With limited mobility and scant opportunity to work, he and other young men resorted to drinking. To compound matters, he got a woman pregnant and started a family while young. When he started his family, he thought that they “belonged” to him; that his wife should do everything for him. After harvesting their crops, he would sell them without telling his wife and spend the money drinking and buying gifts for another woman. “I...

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Why Many Women Resist Their Male Partner’s Support at Home

In the Fall 2016 issue, we explored women’s resistance to their male partners, assuming greater responsibility at home in the articles “Men: Equal Partners in Care Work?” and “Will Women Resist More Caregiving by Men?” To recap: in Mozambique, the organization Rede HOPEM developed an innovative training program, “Men in the Kitchen,” focusing on skill development and expanding the role of fathers. They found that men engaging in childcare and home management were met, in many cases, by anger and derision rather than appreciation and support. Men’s wives and partners regarded their help as an intrusion into women’s private...

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Taking Art to New Delhi’s Streets to Champion Gender Justice

By Durba Ghose A creative campaign in India uses a range of techniques— from street theater to workshops—to foster dialogue on gender justice. It has reached more than 6000 people of diverse ages and across three-dozen places in New Delhi. The Ab Baaki Charcha campaign (ABC)—which means “Now, the Remaining Dialogue”—is a project the Delhi-based organization Mittika spearheaded in collaboration with the Forum to Engage Men and Humsaa, Sadak Chaap, KlodB and Alternative Spaces Foundation. ABC’s goal is to engage Delhi’s citizens, especially men and boys, in advocating for gender justice. The ABC campaign was part of a nationwide...

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Empowering Women in Kenya

Chickens Coming Home to Roost for Equality By Elias Muindi Because of the number of men who have died from HIVAIDS and other illnesses, Kenya has a large population of widows. Although regarded as key members of Kenyan society, they face enormous challenges. Chief among their impediments is “widow inheritance,” a cultural practice followed by the Luo ethnic community of Nyanza and western Kenya. Its central feature compels a widow to cohabit with her brother-in-law, a male cousin or other close male relative, a policy officially sanctioned by the family of the deceased man, clan and community. The original...

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