Category: 2014 Fall

Caring Men in Bangladesh

By Sohela Nozeen The Center for Gender and Social Transformation (CGST) based at BRAC Institute of Governance and Development, at BRAC University in Dhaka, Bangladesh, organized a unique photo exhibit, “Caring Men Images,” this past summer at the Dhaka Art Center. The exhibition offers a vision of men that is not commonly seen—men engaged in looking after their family members by providing childcare and care to the elderly and disabled. The photos on display were generated from a competition among 21 professional and amateur Bangladeshi photographers and included 97 images and two video stories. —Sohela Nozeen Thanks to Marufa...

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A Celebration of Black and Latino Males

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. —Martin Luther King, Jr. At a daylong summit on healthy masculinity for men and boys in western Massachusetts, three newly graduated high school students read their award winning essays addressing the question, “What Can Institutions, Society, and I Do to Positively Influence the Plight of Black and Latino Males?” The oratory competition they’d entered was sponsored by Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. Since its founding in 1906, Alpha Phi has supplied voice and...

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Fall 2014 Edition

A Worldview Is Hard to Crack Allan G. Johnson By their nature, worldviews are difficult to change, writes Allan Johnson, author of The Gender Knot: Unraveling Our Patriarchal Legacy, a new edition of which came out this fall. “We tend not to be aware they even exist or how complex they are. Expose one part to scrutiny and doubt and you cannot help but bring others into question, from who you think you are to childhood heroes to feeling safe to national identity and pride.   A Celebration of Black and Latino Males Essays by Hector Toledo, Raekwon Wheeler,...

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Final Curtain

Nonviolent Men: The Silent Majority That Needs to Make Some Noise By Rob Okun “Women want a men’s movement. We are literally dying for it. —Gloria Steinem It’s way past time to put on the pads, guys. We’ve got to put our shoulders to the wheel of change if we’re going to stop domestic and sexual violence. Are you ready to suit up for the big game? Except, of course, it ain’t no game; the lives of our daughters and sisters, wives and mothers are on the line. No need to recount the abominable behavior of any particular football player here. And, it’s not necessary to replay all the fumbles by the National Football League commissioner or team owners who are only consistent about one thing: putting profits ahead of both the safety of women and holding their players accountable to behave responsibly. (The NFL’s decision to consult with longtime domestic violence prevention professionals while laudable, falls short of all that needs to be done. Why, for example, haven’t they contracted with the two-decades old Mentors in Violence Prevention program (MVP) to conduct long-term training?) Revelations of men abusing women aren’t news—sadly, they’re everyday occurrences. Why does it take abusive celebrities or pro athletes beating their wives or fiancés—or children—to grab our attention? Since the vast majority of men don’t act violently toward those they love, why are so...

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2014 Fall: Men @ Work

              “It’s On Us” to Stop Sexual Violence Earlier this fall, the Obama administration launched the “It’s On Us” initiative, an awareness campaign to help put an end to sexual assault on college campuses. It’s On Us asks men, women, everyone across America, to personally commit to be part of the solution to ending campus sexual assault. “An estimated one in five women has been sexually assaulted during her college years—one in five,” President Obama noted. “Of those assaults, only 12 percent are reported, and of those reported assaults, only a fraction of the offenders are punished.” To work so hard to make it through the college gates only to be assaulted is “an affront to our basic humanity,” Mr. Obama said. “It insults our most basic values…[W]e’re a people who believe every child deserves an education… free from fear of intimidation or violence. It is on all of us to reject the quiet tolerance of sexual assault and to refuse to accept what’s unacceptable.” The campaign, which features considerable involvement from Vice President Biden, has taken these steps to prevent campus sexual assault: • Sending guidance to every school district, college, and university that receives federal funding on their legal obligations to prevent and respond to sexual assault • Creating a White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault to...

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An Ambassador To Men

By Zach Wahls Many people first encountered Zach Wahls in 2011, when as a 19-year-old college student his stirring testimony at a public hearing before the Iowa House Judiciary Committee on a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in his state was the most viewed video on YouTube that year. I’m straight and white; in many ways a stereotypically masculine bro-dude guy from Iowa—with one wrinkle: I have lesbian parents. Over the last three and a half years, I’ve advocated for the interests of children and families like mine who have been raised by same-sex parents. My activism’s included promoting every adult’s freedom to marry, fighting workplace discrimination targeting gay people, and advocating for equality in the Boy Scouts of America. (In stereotypically bro-dudefrom- Iowa fashion, I am an Eagle Scout.) The time I’ve spent traveling and advocating has been the educational experience of a lifetime. As I’ve answered a myriad of questions posed to me as a straight man being raised by two women, I’ve found myself examining aspects of my life that might have gone uninspected if I hadn’t spoken truth to power about my loving home and family. I’ve been particularly taken aback by the insidious effects straight men’s homophobia has on gay men, on women, even on other straight men—an utter, unmistakable fear that pervades the lives of so many American men today. It’s...

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Letters

Escaping the Man Box After hearing Michael Kimmel speak recently in Cambridge, my daughter sent me a copy of the Voice Male book and a recent issue of your magazine. I’ve since ordered a subscription and I’m almost finished with the book. Because I work in a reentry center (male corrections) here in Maine, all of your material is especially interesting to me. Most of the men in my classes are repeat offenders and are between the ages of 20 and 35. I can’t begin to tell you how eager they are to talk about what it means to be a male in our culture! –Andree Bella Belfast, Maine   Engaging Men in Europe MenEngage Europe is one of a number of regional networks of global MenEngage, the network of more than 600 non-governmental organizations in more than 100 countries working to advance gender justice. Recently, we met in Zagreb with more than 40 people from 16 countries attending. In addition to Croatia, MenEngage Europe members came from Spain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Switzerland, Albania, United Kingdom, Serbia, Ireland, Sweden, Norway, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Portugal, Kosovo, and the Netherlands. Representatives from the pioneering organization, White Ribbon UK, and the Ombudsperson for Gender Equality of the Republic of Croatia also attended. Over three days of meetings, we presented best practices for working to involve men in caring for children, drawing on a...

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The Trials of Being Female in Public

By Laura M. Lippman It happened when I was a brunette, but it seems to happen more now that I am a blonde, even though I am blonde only because I’m older — brown hair is hard to maintain after a certain age. Being older should be a protection against this thing, this condition, yet it isn’t. In fact, it seems to be getting worse all the time. I go to the ballpark, wearing a sensible hat to protect my face from the sun. A beer vendor pokes me in the back and then pokes the brim of the hat: “That’s a Preakness hat,” he instructs me, as if I have violated some sacred code of behavior. I post a declarative status on Facebook and a man presumes I am asking for his advice, despite the lack of a question mark. I attend a booksigning after an 18-hour day, in which I have arisen at 5 a.m. to catch a flight and done three different events. When I return to my hotel room, I find a plaintive e-mail from someone who attended the evening talk: “Do you know you don’t look like your author photo? Do you think that’s fair?” There were only eight people at the signing and I’m pretty sure I know who my correspondent is — and that he didn’t buy one of my books. Is...

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Shameless: Brazilian Students Campaign to Deconstruct Gender

By Vanessa Fonseca Despite advances in gender justice in recent decades, the consequences of gender norms are still relevant in the job market, in violence rates, in the division of household labor and childcare, and in health, to name a few. Women still receive approximately 70 percent of the income earned by men. A comparative study—the International Men and Gender Equality Survey—(IMAGES) which focuses on women and men and was coordinated by Instituto Promundo and the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)—revealed that in Brazil 44 percent of men say that their female partners do more household labor than they do. Male participation in taking care of children is also inferior; just 42 percent of men change their children’s diapers, and only 37 percent bathe them. The study also found that nearly a quarter of women (24 percent) were victims of some kind of domestic violence. Aiming to reduce these social consequences, Instituto Promundo works in developing methodologies for gender transformation, mainly involving men. Such methodologies are based on two models. One focuses on promoting behaviors and attitudes that are alternative to traditional expressions of masculinities, and that rely on a “positive” perspective demonstrating the “advantages” of becoming a “transformed man.” In the same way masculinities are socially formed by spreading masculine models, it’s important to offer alternatives that foster transformations that lead to equity. It’s a model...

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Inspired by Nicaraguan Feminists

By Oswaldo Montoya One of the reasons I was drawn to feminism was because its concern is not only with gender equality, but also with changes in all social structures that discriminate against people based on race, ethnicity, class, sexual orientation, age, nationality, ability and others. In the end, we are dealing with the same mindset of “power over” in which some think they are superior and therefore entitled to privileges, denied to “the others.” Many have internalized these beliefs, which are constantly reproduced by social institutions. It is not a coincidence that the feminist women in Nicaragua, who in the early 1990s engaged me and other men in the feminist struggle, were former activists of the Sandinista revolution of the 1980s. They were committed to social justice and the human rights of the poor in my country: the peasants, the indigenous people, urban workers in unsafe jobs, and they opposed external, imperialistic powers. They understand that gender equality can develop only as part of a new social order and that for that to happen men needed to play a part. Oppression on the basis of gender is more damaging to the majority of women, but the majority of men are also oppressed, if not by gender then by other unequal systems of power. It is in all of our best interests to join with women and with people...

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Combating Pakistan’s Contagion of Violence

By Zaheer Abbas Maseed The word “contagion” literally means transmitting a disease from one person to another through close contact. I am using this term deliberately to reflect my understanding of violence and how it is spread. This understanding has been developed based on my experience with Cure Violence, a U.S. NGO working on issues of violence in the United States and globally. The Cure Violence model employs a public health approach. Cure Violence considers all forms of violence—psychological, emotional, physical, and sexual—as a kind of contagious disease or epidemic. The organization believes that violence could be effectively prevented and controlled if the same approach to confront an epidemic was adopted in communities disproportionately affected by violence. The model suggests that in societies where violence is normalized by regular exposure, experience, glorification, promotion and desensitization, it is likely people will become less immune to violence and hence more receptive to its infection. When I look at both the history and current situation of my native Pakistan, the above approach not only seems a convenient analogy but also an effective and innovative approach to address and prevent violence. Pakistan has been exposed to megascale violence since it was founded in 1947. Consider these events: Creation of Pakistan, Mass Migration (Hijrat) and War of 1947–1948 War of 1965 War of 1971 USSR-Afghan War (1979–1989) Taliban: the new rulers of Afghanistan Kargil...

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Fatherhood, Caregiving, and Love in Brazil

By Marco Aurélio Martins   They arrive one by one; fathers, mothers and childcare workers. They’ve been invited by leaders of the Stella Maris Municipal Daycare to talk about paternity and caregiving with an NGO that at that moment wasn’t very well known to them: Instituto Promundo. Cleber Leonardo Ramos, 35, is one of the fathers who accepts the invitation. Like all participants, he is a resident of Vila Joaniza, one of 700 favelas in Rio de Janeiro that share the same challenges every day: precarious sanitation conditions, violence related to drug trafficking, police raids, and limited access to several basic services, among other struggles. The community is a portrait of both local and national public policies of abandonment. This fact is clear after taking a quick walk through the narrow streets and alleys snaking through the community. Cleber is the stepfather of two girls; one is 10-years-old and the other a baby. He arrives with other dads also invited to the meeting. A combination of suspicion and curiosity is palpable in the air. I introduce myself as the meeting facilitator and begin by asking the men if they believe fatherhood and caregiving are a part of their daily lives. The question is a visceral way of beginning a dialogue—understanding what they think about fathering and finding out if they are likely to be easily moved by discussing it....

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Building New Men in Swaziland

By Tom Churchyard   I moved to Swaziland in 2010, making a deliberate disconnect from the quiet cloisters of Cambridge University and full of boyish enthusiasm for a country I had never visited and a culture I knew nothing about. The region did not disappoint my naive fantasies of the African wild, and in the last years I have survived closecalls with fire, flood, break-in, break-up and a brace of car accidents. But hiking in South Africa last year, friends and I were suddenly introduced to the true extent of southern Africa’s dangers and I realized, as if I had never known it, that they are not those of Mother Nature. In the most unequal country on the planet, where the central banking district and slum roll into one another, where the education segregates as much as any law once did, and where the “rainbow nation’s” pot of gold is reserved for the few, it is hardly surprising that the most dangerous things in South Africa are men. After a monster 23km hike, the final leg of three, we jumped into sleeping bags in our shared chalet with quiet anticipation of a straighteight. About four hours later, halfway through the night, each of us woke to a balaclava- ed figure, the finger of one hand raised to the hole where their lips should have been and the other around...

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Counseling Abusive Men in South Africa

By Kerryn Rehse   When the World Health Organization (WHO) published its global and regional estimates of the prevalence of violence against women in 2013, the numbers were grim. The findings suggest that on average one in three women will experience physical and/or sexual violence by their intimate partner. This is even more likely, the WHO reported, in the developing regions such as Africa (36.6 percent), Middle East and Mediterranean (37 percent) and South East Asia (37.7 percent). In addition, it is estimated that 38 percent of all murders of women globally are committed by the victim’s intimate partner. In South Africa the figure stands at a staggering 56 percent. Despite the statistics, in the ongoing struggle to prevent violence against women, there has been a steady increase in prevention and intervention models. They have been developed to use predominantly with women and girls who are victims of violence or are at risk of becoming victims. These programs often include raising community awareness, psycho-educational workshops, educational materials, media campaigns, counseling, shelter facilities, and access to justice services, among other strategies. The common denominator among nearly all of these interventions has been that they are one-sided in their target audience. A shift in focus In various parts of the world there is growing awareness that in order to break the cycle of violence, men should also be involved in gender-based...

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Male Sexual Violence Survivors: Newest Activists for Gender Justice?

By Wynne Russell Nearly 40 years after the first World Conference on Women in Mexico in 1975, the figures on sexual and intimate partner violence against women and girls remain staggering. Recent figures found that 35 percent of women worldwide have experienced either intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. But sexual violence in particular does not affect women and girls alone. Although badly underreported, sexual violence against men and boys is increasingly recognized as pervasive. In peacetime Western societies, males still make up an estimated 5 to 10 percent of adult sexual assault victims, and an estimated 17 percent of boys have experienced childhood sexual abuse. My research and advocacy, however, has particularly focused on male-directed sexual violence in high-conflict zones. In the last decade alone, sexual violence— including rape, sexual torture and mutilation, reproductive violence, sexual humiliation, forced incest and forced rape, and sexual enslavement—against men and boys has been reported in 26 conflicts across the world. Such violence is overwhelmingly (although not exclusively) perpetrated by men and occurs as torture, as part of initiation and integration into military and paramilitary forces, and as a strategy of war designed to terrify and demoralize populations and destroy family and community cohesion. All male survivors of sexual violence, I have come to believe, have the potential to be natural allies in the global quest both to...

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From “MenEngaged” to Men —and Women—Being Enraged By Gary Barker

Engaging men and boys as allies in gender equality has become the buzz phrase in development circles. Donors are asking for it. The UN is talking about it. Emma Watson caused UN Women’s website to crash from the sheer volume of hits when she endorsed its new He-for-She campaign. And yet, 20 years after the Beijing conference on women, and five years since the first global MenEngage symposium, we run the risk that our once revolutionary cause becomes the next toothless fad. As cofounder and cochair of the global alliance MenEngage, now some 600 NGOs strong, I often hear this observation: You must be pleased with how much attention the issue of engaging men is getting. Let’s  hold our enthusiasm in check. We should celebrate only when we see true and sustainable progress toward gender equality and social justice. Until then, MenEngage must be Men EnRaged. Let’s start with violence. Global data confirms that about a third of the world’s women have experienced violence from a male partner. We have little evidence— with the possible exception of the U.S. and Norway—that any country has been able to reduce its overall rates of men’s violence against women. There are challenges with measuring violence, to be sure, but it’s far too early to claim that we have made real progress in reducing the daily threat to women and girls. Men too...

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Five Traits that Drive Men’s Lives

By Charlie Donaldson And Randy Flood Not long ago we were having dinner with friends when the topic turned to the premise of our new book, Mascupathy: Understanding and Healing the Malaise of American Manhood. The turmoil in most men’s lives is a product of a socialized disorder we had dubbed mascupathy, where traits such as aggression and invulnerability are exaggerated, and those of openness and empathy are repressed. Not everyone at the table agreed. Michael said flatly that the turmoil of men’s lives was all about sex. Randy responded that it was all about male socialization: the lessons of the man-pact—the ancient code that defines what’s masculine—that’s enforced by the “man-pack,” the unorganized but immensely powerful alliance to which virtually all men knowingly or unwittingly belong. Charlie weighed in that although narcissism and sex may be drivers, they’re not the paramount factors in men’s lives that lead them to intimidate each other, distance themselves from their partners, drink, and work too much. For Charlie, it came down to one core observation: men are lost. The men around the table spent the next couple hours in a wideranging conversation, eventually agreeing on five traits that lead to the turmoil that so often typifies men’s lives.   1. Lost. In this time of seismic change in gender roles, men’s struggles have intensified as women increasingly take their rightful place in...

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A Celebration of Black and Latino Males

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. —Martin Luther King, Jr. At a daylong summit on healthy masculinity for men and boys in western Massachusetts, three newly graduated high school students read their awardwinning essays addressing the question, “What Can Institutions,  Society, and I Do to Positively Influence the Plight of Black and Latino Males?” The oratory competition they’d entered was sponsored by Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. Since its founding in 1906, Alpha Phi has supplied voice and vision to the struggle of African Americans and people of color around the world. What follows are excerpts from the remarks of Hector Toledo (1st place), Raekwon Wheeler (2nd place), and Tynayko Melendez (3rd place). Each received a portion of $5,000 in scholarship funds to attend college.     What Does It Mean to Be Brown? By Hector Toledo What does it mean to be brown? Does it mean being a part of the 40 percent of Americans who live below the poverty line? Does it mean having a one in three chance of seeing the inside of a jail cell? No; it does not. Did you know that it costs over $167,000 to keep an inmate in prison per year and only $39,000 to send a student to Harvard University...

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A Worldview Is Hard to Crack

By their nature, worldviews are difficult to change, writes Allan Johnson, author of The Gender Knot: Unraveling Our Patriarchal Legacy, a new edition of which came out this fall. “We tend not to be aware they even exist or how complex they are. Expose one part to scrutiny and doubt and you cannot help but bring others into question, from who you think you are to childhood heroes to feeling safe to national identity and pride. “When I consider why it is so hard to change a worldview—whether someone else’s or my own—I find that it depends on how it came to be there, what authority is behind it, and how ‘centrally located’ or interconnected it is in relation to the rest. My worldview, for example, includes the belief that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. That bit of reality got added in when I read about it somewhere. I don’t remember where or when it was, but I do know I adopted this piece of information because the source was identified as science and, as with gravity, my worldview includes a general trust in what scientists claim as true, knowing all the while that it can change as new evidence comes to light. Adding this to my worldview happened in a particular moment in a particular way and from a particular source, and I could...

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