Spring 2016: Men @ Work

Mens’ Role in Ending AIDS

Diagonal view of men and women sitting at a long table in front of microphones. UNAIDS, together with the International Planned Parenthood Federation and Sonke Gender Justice, convened a meeting on the rights, roles and responsibilities of men in ending AIDS.

More than 70 participants— including the ministers of health in Botswana, Malawi and Guyana, and the deputy minister of health for Ghana—gathered late last year to reframe the response to the AIDS epidemic among men and adolescent boys.

Organized by UNAIDS, the International Planned Parenthood Federation, and South Africa’s Sonke Gender Justice, the meeting December 10–11 in Geneva, Switzerland, focused on men’s roles and responsibilities in ending AIDS.

A growing body of evidence shows that access to HIV services for men and boys is typically worse than for women Staff Rob A. Okun Editor and Publisher Lahri Bond Art Director Damon Hastings Editorial Assistant Christine Polaczak Circulation Coordinator Michael Burke Copy Editor Crystal Boateng Website Manager Ezra Heightchew-Howard Intern [continued on page 6] Chinese feminists are among those advocating for domestic violence laws in China.

UNAIDS, together with the International Planned Parenthood Federation and Sonke Gender Justice, convened a meeting on the rights, roles and responsibilities of men in ending AIDS.

Men @ Work and girls. This poor access leads to higher viral loads, higher numbers of deaths of men and more infections among their female partners. “If we don’t reach men and boys, we won’t break the cycle of HIV transmission,” said Michel Sidibe, executive director of UNAIDS.

“Engaging with the education sector is critical for influencing positive gender norms.” Participants noted that the structure of health services and existing gender norms and perceptions of masculinity increase vulnerability to HIV and affect how men and adolescent boys seek access to healthcare services.

In addition, those at the meeting pointed to successful programs that address these issues and agreed to reject efforts that blame men. Delegates also acknowledged that work with men must be done in conjunction with ongoing efforts to advance gender equality. Another meeting on HIV and AIDS is scheduled for June.

Finally—DV Laws in China

Collection of posters featuring images of the feminist activists arrested in China and statements such as 'Feminism is NOT a Crime'

Chinese feminists are among those advocating for domestic violence laws in China.

China’s largely rubber stamp parliament passed the country’s first law against domestic violence at the end of 2015.

The new law prohibits any form of domestic violence, including psychological abuse, and helps streamline the process for obtaining restraining orders, according to a recent report in Global Post.

According to the Communist Party-run All–China Women’s Federation, about one quarter of women have suffered violence in their marriage, though only some 40,000 to 50,000 complaints are registered each year.

Of the cases reported last year, almost 90 percent involved abuse by husbands of their wives. The law covers unmarried people who cohabit but does not protect gay couples, a senior lawmaker said.

China previously did not have any specific law covering violence in the family, an issue often ignored to avoid bringing shame upon the family in traditional Chinese culture.

What About Men?

Program cover of the Judy Chicago Art Education Collection“What About Men” is Part III of the Judy Chicago Dialogue Portal, addressing the often contentious subject of men in a feminist environment. It takes up some of the challenges of making institutional changes in a variety of arenas including educational curricula. The project features and is inspired by talks presented by photographer Donald Woodman and Andrew Perchuk, deputy director of the Getty Research Institute.

“What About Men” is coordinated by Woodman, who collaborated with Judy Chicago on the Holocaust Project (1985–1993) exhibition and teaching (2001–2005), at the Judy Chicago: Planting a Feminist Art Education Archive Symposium at The Pennsylvania State University in 2014.

Organizers say that because of the social pressure and the rewards promised for supporting a patriarchal system, “it is difficult for both men and women to stand up to and change these values and practices.” Collaborating with Judy Chicago in recent teaching projects, Woodman has provided a role model for other men of how to act in a supportive/ cooperative/inclusive manner in an effort to both challenge and change the dominant patriarchal model of studio art education.

For more, go to: https://youtu.be/d3L5Qedn_eI.

Planned Parenthood Sues over Videos

Planned Parenthood supporters rally for women’s access to reproductive health of synchronized care on “National Pink Out Day’’ at Los Angeles City Hall.

In this Sept. 9, 2015, file photo, Planned Parenthood supporters rally for women’s access to reproductive health care on “National Pink Out Day” at Los Angeles City Hall. With a deeper-than-ever split between Republicans and Democrats over abortion, activists on both sides of the debate foresee a 2016 presidential campaign in which the nominees tackle the volatile topic more aggressively than in past elections. (AP Photo/Nick Ut, File)

Planned Parenthood has filed a federal lawsuit against the anti-choice group Center for Medical Progress, which targeted Planned Parenthood with undercover videos for the past year.

According to a report in January in The Hill, Planned Parenthood will argue that the Center for Medical Progress violated federal law as well as the laws of three states by releasing edited, undercover videos of Planned Parenthood staff members discussing fetal tissue donation.

The organization’s executive vice president Dawn Laguens alleges that the Center for Medical Progress has “colluded with right-wing state legislators and members of Congress” in their attack. Although Planned Parenthood officials have not yet decided how much money to seek in damages, the organization said in its complaint that it is seeking “compensatory, statutory and punitive damages.” For more, visit thehill.com/policy/ healthcare/265905-plannedparenthood- files-suit-againstgroup-behind-videos.

Older Men and Unsafe Sex

Photo of a bearded, white middle-aged man thinking and looking at the camera.Older American men who pay for heterosexual sex are more likely to engage in unprotected intercourse with the prostitutes they frequent, according to a new study in the American Journal of Men’s Health.

“There is a nearly universal perception that older men do not pay for, or even engage sexually with regular frequency,” said lead study author Dr. Christine Milrod. “This view may contribute to a false sense of security for both clients and sex workers.” Milrod and University of Portland sociology professor Martin Monto surveyed 208 men who solicited sex from prostitutes between the ages of 60 and 84 in order to assess their condom use and sexual risk taking. The researchers found: • Nearly 60 percent reported not always using protection with sex workers.

  • More than 30 percent reported having been diagnosed with a STI at some point.
  • Men who reported more unprotected sex acts perceived their HIV risk to be higher and were more likely to have been diagnosed with a STI.
  • More than 77 percent reported they perceived their likelihood of becoming infected with HIV as “low.” Of the 60- to 84-year-old men surveyed, advancing age was also positively associated with unprotected sex acts.
  • Nearly 60 percent reported talking with a doctor about sex since turning 60; more than 80 percent of these conversations were initiated by the patients, not doctors.

“Medical and mental health clinicians should not assume that old age is a barrier to paying for sex, particularly among the generations that began engaging in sexual activity prior to the epidemic emergence of the HIV virus,” the researchers said.

In Synch with Gender

Cover of Synchronizing Gender Strategies: A Cooperative Model for Improving Reproductive Health and Transforming Gender RelationsJust 20 years ago, if a program was “gender aware” it was considered forward thinking. Since then, ideas about gender inequities and their impact on health have advanced considerably.

Standards for gender interventions are now more ambitious, and health and development programs are contributing to both transforming gender norms and achieving health and gender equality.

A new concept paper describes the transformation as “gender synchronization.” Written for the Interagency Gende r Working Group, “Synchronizing Gender Strategies: A Cooperative Model for Improving Reproductive Health and Transforming Gender Relations” (PDF: 532KB), explains that the term means working with men and women, boys and girls in an intentional and mutually reinforcing way that challenges gender norms, catalyzes gender equality achievements, and improves health. The paper is intended for reproductive health and development practitioners and program planners—many of whom are already integrating gender into their programming and are looking for effective approaches to achieving better reproductive health and longterm change.

Written by development and gender experts with diverse philosophical and programmatic approaches to gender work, “Synchronizing Gender Strategies” is the result of more than a year of work. Some had been at the forefront of early efforts to empower women through health and development efforts, while others had been pioneers in involving men in gender work.

In addition to providing a definition for “gender synchronization,” the publication provides examples Planned Parenthood supporters rally for women’s access to reproductive health of synchronized care on “National Pink Out Day’’ at Los Angeles City Hall.

Voice Male Men @ Work approaches that have worked with women and girls, or men and boys. To learn more, go to: http://www.igwg.org/igwg_ media/synchronizing-genderstrategies.pdf.

Vast Difference, Vas Deferens

Photo of a lightswitch with a person drawn around it such that the switch takes the place of a penisA German carpenter turned inventor is hoping to offer men and their partners a new form of male contraception that’s more permanent than a condom but less permanent than a vasectomy.

The invention is called the “sperm switch” or Bimek SLV.

When turned on, Bimek SLV, a tiny scrotum implant that prevents sperm from passing through the vas deferens and mixing with ejaculatory fluid, redirects the sperm back into the testicles. Once implanted, the device can be switched on or off (turning it off requires pressing an additional safety button) through the skin.

The inventor, Clemens Bimek, is the only person to have one implanted so far, but he’s hoping to begin a 25- person trial soon. The surgery to install the switch only takes around 30 minutes, and it can be turned on immediately after the operation. It would, however, still take at least a month—or 30 ejaculations—to clear the seminal ducts of live sperm, after which the man would be completely infertile until he turns the switch off. Once the switch is turned off, the man immediately becomes fertile again, according to Bimek.

Some medical experts have tempered expectations by pointing out a number of risks that could prevent the device from ever being approved for public use, including unwanted scarring to the vas deferens and complications with other body implants made from the same material, but Bimek is hopeful that he will attract enough attention from investors and crowdfunders to move forward with human trials.

White House Dialogue on Men’s Health

9 people in front of a dark blue curtain wearing business atire facing the camera. A person in the front holds a large plaque bearing the image of the white house.

Men’s Health Network staff with board members and advisors.

The White House is working with a range of stakeholders on advancing men’s health, including how it can better collaborate with those working to improve the health care needs of males in the U.S. Among those at a meeting in January was the Partnership for Male Youth, a national organization committed to addressing the unique and unmet health care needs of adolescent and young adult males. The event drew nearly 250 participants from a range of disciplines.

Participants shared personal stories about men’s healthy and unhealthy choices, learned about best practices, and committed to being active during Men’s Week of Action on Health Care and Health Insurance. Organizers also began work on Men’s Health Week (June 13–19).

Speakers at the White House dialogue included Broderick Johnson White House cabinet secretary & chair of the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force; Vice Admiral Vivek Murthy, MD, U.S. surgeon general; and Michael P. Botticelli, director, White House Office on National Drug Control Policy.