Nigerian Men: Get With It
An agency overseeing efforts to prevent domestic and sexual violence in Lagos, Nigeria, has begun a campaign aimed at getting men to perform household chores for the good of the family.
“Some women have died because they did not cook for their spouses. Some women are being victimized… [for] not keeping up with house chores,” said Lola Vivour- Adeniyi, executive secretary of the antiviolence agency. To counteract that behavior, the state launched a campaign at a recent sexual and gender-based violence awareness event at Katangowa Market.
“Today we are engaging men. The men will be cooking; the men will be cleaning; [they] will be changing diapers; basically roles that have been specifically ascribed as feminine roles,” she said. “What we are saying is that it doesn’t make you less a man if you are involved in house chores for the family. What we are saying is that if you are a ‘man wey sabi’ (a guy who’s with it), you should be involved because marriage is a partnership,” Vivour-Adeniyi said. According to Vivour-Adeniyi, it is necessary to break gender stereotypes that perpetuate, directly or indirectly, sexual and gender based violence (SGBV). From September 2021 to July 2022 there was a record of 4,860 SGBV cases, she said.
“Through enlightenment campaigns and continuous sensitization plans that cut across different strata of the society,” she said, the government in Lagos hopes to rid the state of SGBV crimes.
Valuing Boys and Men’s Emotional Lives
Examining and tending to their own emotional needs is the antidote to what most men traditionally do—disregard them, researchers have concluded. For a number of reasons—many rooted in socialized norms about masculinity—men are often taught from a young age to diminish, or even ignore, their emotions in relationships. They put in peril both the health of their relationships and their own wellbeing.
When men learn to better understand their emotional needs, the Washington Post reported recently, the payoff can be profound. The common myth about men and emotions suggests that men are “wired” differently than women, and, as a result, don’t have the same emotional needs. But researchers in Israel, who pored over scans of more than 1,400 brains, discovered that human brain structures and features are a “mosaic,” resistant to easy binary expectations about gender or sex.
Another study published last year in Nature reported that men’s and women’s emotions are, as one of the researchers put it, “clearly, consistently and unmistakably more similar than they are different.” Instead, psychologists say these perceived differences often arise from social constructs, which start early. “We don’t train boys to have vocabulary around their emotions beyond anger,” said Fredric Rabinowitz, chair of the psychology department at the University of Redlands in California, whose research and private practice focus on men’s mental health. This occurs, Rabinowitz said, because many boys are raised to believe that deeper emotions are separate from their being, which morphs into “unprocessed trauma.” And when men lack emotional language, they cannot explain what they are feeling.
Reducing Suicide in Men and Boys
In Australia, boys and men are three times as likely to die by suicide than girls and women, according to a new government health study. The Buoy Project is testing seven different suicide prevention programs that target boys and men. The aim? To find out which programs are most effective in reducing male suicide. The team will create a model to show what would happen if the effective programs were scaled up across the country. Funded with $5.6 million from Australia’s Medical Research Future Fund, researchers say their aim is to discover if programs reduce suicide rates when they encourage boys and men to seek help. They then tailor the interventions to their specific needs. For more go to: www.health.gov.au/news/suicide-prevention-for-boys-and-men.
AIDS: Changing the Pattern in the South
A new initiative is reimagining the response to the AIDS epidemic in the southern US. To honor Black and Brown lives lost to HIV and AIDS, it’s bringing sections of the national AIDS Memorial Quilt to communities throughout the South. Partnering with the Southern AIDS Coalition, “Change the Pattern” is a multi-city initiative supporting communities working to end AIDS in the South.
The initiative is addressing the experiences of marginalized communities disproportionately impacted by HIV and AIDS, and is teaching its history through immersive quilt displays, educational programming, advocacy and quilt making. In 2020, the South comprised 38 percent of the US population but represented more than half (52 percent) of new HIV diagnoses.
According to AIDSVu, the disproportionate burden of HIV in the South is experienced among Black women, Black and Latinx gay and bisexual men, and Black and Latinx transgender women. Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, South Carolina, Alabama, North Carolina, and Tennessee rank in the top 15 of states with the highest rates of HIV in the country. Racism, HIV stigma, homophobia, poverty, and barriers to health care continue to drive these disparities.
The first major quilt display took place in Jackson, Miss, in late September. More than 500 hand-stitched quilt panels, many from the local area, were displayed across Jackson and surrounding communities. Accompanying the quilt displays were powerfully curated stories that share the love, remembrance, pain, and celebration sewn into quilt panels of lives lost from within the Black, Latinx, Indigenous, Transgender, and other marginalized communities. In the long struggle for quality health care and social justice in the South, the panels and stories provide historical reflections on the issues of stigma that still persist today.
Health Is On the Way
Even though support is available for men to access health services in Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), most men are unwilling or unable to access them.
To address this challenge, Kwakha Indvodza (KI), a longtime male mentoring organization, has begun a series of dialogues with men designed to better understand what’s preventing men from seeking support around their health. The dialogue groups were the first to help men grapple with many men’s reluctance to access health care. Participants were 18 to 49. Of those surveyed, only 46 percent say they access health care. The majority—54 percent—are not.
To elicit honest responses, facilitators use a detailed questionnaire conducted in both siSwati and English. A majority said that KI presented them a vital platform to examine both their experiences—and the barriers—to accessing health services.
While support is available for men, many are unwilling or incapable of accessing it. The dialogues revealed that while men are open to accessing health services, no existing sources feel safe or relatable to them. Some admitted preferring traditional healers.
Among the target groups that KI initially identified were bus conductors, farmers, and men in the general public. Organizers anticipate the sessions will impact behavioral change, eventually resulting in more men overcoming barriers to seeking out health services. For more: training AT kwakhaindvodza DOT com.
Fempowered has replaced “Women’s Advocacy Club” as the name of an activist organization at Florida Southern University. Does the change reflect a growing trend to involve more than only those who identify as women in such groups?
Established 10 years ago as a safe space to discuss human rights issues, attendance fell over the years in part because newer students hesitated to join because of the club’s name. When senior Noelle Pappas inherited the club presidency, she says she felt compelled to change the name. She and the vice president, junior Chloe Lynch, decided the name needed to be more inclusive.
“We didn’t want the word women in it because men can celebrate feminism and men can be feminine,” Pappas said. “Non-binary people can be feminine and study feminism [too]…”
Will other campus women’s rights clubs enlarge their identities to invite more students in? Stay tuned.
Studying the Angry White Male
Some white men are angry at the University of Kansas for offering a course called “Angry White Male Studies.”
According to the course catalog on the school’s website, “Angry White Male Studies” is a three-credit humanities course taught by Christopher Forth, a professor of history, women, gender and sexuality and American studies. It charts the rise of the “angry white male” in America and Britain since the 1950s. Students will “explore the deeper sources of this emotional state while evaluating recent manifestations of male anger.”
Angry White Male Studies intends to “examine how both dominant and subordinate masculinities are represented and experienced in cultures undergoing periods of rapid change connected to modernity as well as to rights-based movements of women, people of color, [gays] and trans individuals.”
Readings for the class were expected to include:
- Angry White Men: American Masculinity at the End of an Era
- Muscular Christianity: American and European Manliness, Masculinities and the New Imperialism
- “The New Fascist Man” in The Image of Man: The Creation of Modern Masculinity
- “Beyond the Pale: Whiteness, Masculinity and Empire in the British Union of Fascists”
- Tough Guys and True Believers: Managing Authoritarian Men in the Psychotherapy Room
- “By Means of Seduction: Pickup-artists and the Cultural History of Erotic Persuasion”
- Gender and Queer Perspectives on Brexit
- “Before Trump: On Comparing Fascism and Trumpism”
The State of UK Boys
A new report on boys suggests all children would benefit from a feminist approach to learning.
The State of UK Boys says younger males would also benefit from learning about the problems associated with gender stereotypes and from destigmatizing close friendships between boys, something often discouraged by homophobic ideals of masculinity. The report also found that encouraging male friendships helps boys to learn reciprocity, empathy and intimacy.
Produced by the Global Boyhood Initiative, a collaboration between the US gender equality organization Equimundo (formerly Promundo), and the French violence against women NGO Kering Foundation, the report, released in November, is designed to offer adults tools to raise boys who will adopt a belief in healthy masculinity.
“How boys and men behave makes an enormous difference to the lives of girls and women, and individuals of all gender identities, in all areas of their lives,” said David Bartlett, a fellow at Equimundo, and one of the report’s authors. “From sexual harassment and gender-based violence, to the gender pay gap and relationship breakdown, the attitudes and behavior of boys and men are hugely influential.”