Masculinities Mondays: 28th of April 2014

To commemorate ‘Orange Day‘ to raise awareness about ending violence against women, which falls on the 25th of each month, this week’s edition of Masculinities Mondays focuses on news related to gender-based violence.

* In the U.S., the White House has stepped up the pressure on universities to more aggressively and effectively combat sexual assault on campus. The guidelines recommend regular, anonymous surveys about sexual assault on campus as well as university policy reforms. A new website, with information about rights and services, has also been released. With, reportedly, one in five college students in the U.S. having been assaulted, however, critics feel that guidelines are an insufficient response.

* As Andorra, joining Albania, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Italy, Montenegro, Portugal, Serbia, Spain, and Turkey, became the 10th country to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence’ (also known as the ‘Istanbul Convention’), the treaty will become binding on August 1st of this year. The treaty addresses gaps in national responses to violence against women, outlining minimum standards for prevention, protection, prosecution, and services. According to a recent survey of 42,000 women by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, one in three women in the E.U. has experienced some form of physical and/or sexual assault since the age of 15.

* In Australia, the Women’s Centre for Health Matters has commended changes to the legal system of the Australian Capital Territory, saying that these changes make the system fairer to people who experience sexual assault.

* Meanwhile, Sri Lankan activists are reacting to comments by President Mahinda Rajapaksa that people who experience statutory rape should be able to marry their perpetrators. This comes in the wake of Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa saying, in March, that violence against women is women’s own responsibility.


Masculinities Mondays: 21st April 2014

Doing the rounds this week are several fascinating articles and studies about women and men in the workforce:

* First up, a thought-provoking piece by journalists Katty Kay and Claire Shipman about the differences in men and women’s confidence in the workplace. The authors make compelling points about what they call ‘the confidence gap’ between men and women. They argue, not only that men consistently overestimate their abilities and women underestimate theirs, but that this has a direct impact on the opportunities that they decide to take and, ultimately, their success. For example, HP found that their female employees applied for a promotion only when they met 100% of the job requirements whereas men applied when they felt they met just 60% of the qualifications. In addition to trying to unpack the possible causes of this gendered confidence gap, Kay and Shipman also touch on the point that an outspoken, confident woman in the workplace risks being labeled as a bitch, which may also hold women back from presenting themselves as confident. The article is well worth a read, as I can’t possibly summarise it all here.

* Opportunity Now and PwC also recently released the results of a UK-based study of 25,000 male and female participants on promoting equitable and effective gender equality measures within the workplace. The report (available in full here) explores how to make organisations work for both men and women, so that all staff are productive, engaged and fulfilled. In addition to concerning findings regarding harassment (52% of all female respondents had experienced bullying or harassment in the workplace and 12% had experienced sexual harassment), the study also reveals some interesting results about the impact of perceptions on women’s progression within organisations. Both women and men reported that they found the lifestyle of senior executives to be unappealing but female respondents were more likely to put off senior roles than men. Women and men also had different perceptions of the gender dynamics of their organisation: “Women see unfairness in pay and in access to career progression opportunities and feel that their organisational culture is male-dominated. Men do not recognise these barriers. When men, who hold the majority of senior leadership positions, can start to see the challenges women face, we will make progress.”

* And a TED Talk that’s actually from December last year but which just came onto my radar this week, by Maysoon Zayid – a female, Palestinan stand-up comedian with cerebral palsy. In this hilarious and poignant talk, Zayid discusses the multi-faceted discrimination she has faced in the performing arts/entertainment industry. Watch it here.

Have a good week, everyone!



Masculinities Mondays: 7th of April, 2014

Another mish-mash round up of the past week’s masculinities and gender-related news:

First up (for a little harmless self-promotion), I’m very proud to announce that Al Jazeera’s documentary ‘It’s a Man’s World,’ based on our research on men’s use of violence in Cambodia, has won the United Nations Department of Public Information Award gold prize. The documentary explores the factors relating to the high rates of sexual violence, especially gang rape, in Cambodia.

Also this week, Guardian journalist Leah Green went undercover to explore men’s reactions if the tables of sexism were overturned. All of the scenes she enacts are based on actual experiences of women reported on the Everyday Sexism site.

And, finally, excellent news from New South Wales in Australia, where a high court decision has ruled that people with non-specific sex do not have to register as either male or female on the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages. The ruling is being widely celebrated by rights groups as a big step forward for transgender, intersex, and gender-diverse people in Australia.

Have a great week!


Masculinities Mondays: 31st of March 2014

A bit late off the blocks this week again (I’m just trying to fully embody Colombian culture), but here’s a very random smattering of the week’s masculinities highlights:

* Last week an unidentified (and, as yet, not apprehended) man soaked 33 year-old Natalia Ponce de Leon with acid in a northern suburb of Bogotá. Completely unbeknownst to me, Colombia has the highest number of acid attacks against women in the world although, internationally, this gets far less coverage and attention than such violence in South Asia.  Most acid attacks in Colombia are perpetrated by current or former male partners and some analysts link these attacks to a strong machismo culture. Equally problematic, however, is the frequent legal demotion of acid attacks to ‘crimes of passion,’ despite clear premeditation. Although a 2013 amendment increased the sentence for an acid attack to 10.5 years in Colombia, this has yet to be implemented.

* Secondly, on a lighter – but no less important – note, is this excellent short video by a young Brit on consent. Simple, straightforward and honest, this guy gives clear guidelines that o one ever has any excuse to forget.

* And, finally, some hopeful and forward-thinking reflections on engaging men and boys in violence prevention from the founder of NGO, Jagriti Youth. Based on Jagriti Youth’s experiences of running workshops with boys and girls in India, Dr. Rema Nanda discusses the need to systematically engage men and boys for gender equality. Why/What’s the point/Isn’t this a women’s issue, you may ask? Well, a 14 year-old boy from one of Jagriti Youth’s workshops has the answer: “We have to change together…because if you only change one half of the equation, won’t you get half the result?”

Have a good week, everyone, and keep on sending me your masculinities-related bits and bobs!