Lunes de Masculinidades: 25 de agosto 2014

Este fin de semana fui a un club con unos amigos (y amigos de amigos) para una noche de baile. Yo estaba disfrutando y bailando cuando uno de los chicos en el grupo con quien había estado bailando más temprano me agarró la mano y me llevó a la otra de las múltiples salas del club. 

IMG_7459Cuando estuvimos lejos de mis amigos me dijo que yo era sexy y me besó. Sonreí, pero le dije que no me interesaba y empujó su pecho con mi mano. Intentó besarme otra vez y de nuevo me respondió con “No”, pero esta vez con menos de sonrisa y con un empuje más fuerte, y le sugerí que nos volveremos a unirse con nuestros amigos. Cuando casi habíamos llegado a donde estaba el resto del grupo el chico intentó una vez más a besarme y este vez le dije que ya estaba saliendo con alguien — y sólo entonces se detuvo.

Cuando regresé, uno de mis amigos notando que no yo estaba tan feliz y burbujeante como normal, y me preguntó qué me pasaba. Traté de explicarle — lo mejor que pude, en contra de la música electrónica fuerte y a través de la neblina de la 1 de la mañana — pero él sólo sonrió un poquito y me dijo que relajarse y no tomar las cosas tan seriamente.

Claro, era sólo un poco de coqueteo en un club en un viernes por la noche y, por supuesto, nada que realmente ocurrió y yo era capaz de controlar la situación. Pero, ¿cómo podría hacer que mi amigo a entender que me sentía como el otro chico había infringido a un poco mi espacio privado porque no deseé los besos; que me sentí completamente irrespetado porque sólo detuvo sus avances cuando él pensó que estaba pisando en el territorio del otro hombre; y que me había sentido inseguro? Cuando, una hora más tarde, otro hombre se acercó a mí, instintivamente y inmediatamente le dije: “Lo siento, pero tengo un novio.”

Mi mente se lanzó inmediatamente a un artículo excelente de el año pasado de Alecia Lynn Eberhardt, “Deja de decir ‘tengo un novio.‘” Eberhardt cita otro blogger diciendo,

El privilegio masculino es ‘Tengo un novio’ es la única cosa que realmente puede impedir que alguien caerle a ti porque respetan otra persona masculina más de lo que respetan su rechazo / falta de interés.

Eberhardt luego pasa a explicar, sin embargo, que las mujeres no están haciendo ningún favor a sí mismos / a hombres / a la sociedad con esta excusa:

Si la mujer en cuestión era sin novio, iba a ser automáticamente desmayando en los brazos de la fluencia que está acosarla? Improbable. Entonces, ¿por qué seguimos usando estas excusas? No estamos enseñando nada a los hombres sobre las consecuencias de su comportamiento (es decir, conversación educado y real justifica una respuesta mientras conversaciones y acciones no deseados, no). Estamos simplemente tomando la salida fácil, y, al mismo tiempo, estamos indicando a los hombres que estamos de acuerdo, chicas solteras son ‘juego limpio’ para el acoso.

No podría estar más de acuerdo. Pero, intenté decir que no, traté de caminar lejos, y la única estrategia que tuvó éxito para mi el viernes fue diciendo que tenía novio. ¿Debería haber empezado un debate fuertísimo sobre el patriarcado allá en el club, como Eberhardt sugiere? Probablemente. ¿Es lo que he hecho? No — Sinceramente, sólo quería salirme de la situación lo más rápidamente posible. ¿Voy a evitar la excusa de tener novio y lanzar en una discusión sobre la desigualdad de género la próxima vez? Con suerte – si siento que mis amigos van a apoyarme.

Todo esto lleva a la pregunta, ‘¿Cuáles son los chicos que hacer?’

Para amigos que quiere ser de apoyo, ustedes pueden ser atentos a sus amigas, ustedes pueden decir algo cuando es testigo de otros chicos utilizando el lenguaje misógino o estando acosar a una mujer, pueden escuchar y tratar de entender cuando sus amigas le dicen que sentirse inseguro…y, si estás en Nueva York esta noche, puede educarse en la obra del Gotham Comedy Club, “Dudes contra la Violencia contra la Mujer – Porque DUH

Para los chicos que quieren ser capaces de acercarse a las mujeres sin aparentar ser espeluznante, el blog reciente de ​​Charlie Glick “Ser Bold” tiene algunos consejos prácticos. Sugiere comenzar con una declaración de “si” (si usted tiene ganas de / Si usted está disponible / Si usted quiere), seguido con una declaración de su deseo (me gustaría salir a cenar con usted / me gusta besarte / me encantaría pasar la noche con usted). Glick explica,

Este tipo de invitaciones explican claramente que el deseo está ahí sólo si la otra persona tambíen quiere … Si usted no está en el estado de ánimo, entonces no quiero besarte. Es implícito que el deseo está presente si (y sólo si)  el consentimiento, el interés y la disponibilidad de la otra persona están presentes. Eso demuestra un nivel alto de cuidado y respeto, y que hace la diferencia.

Y si usted no tiene ganas de leer el artículo, siempre se puede recurrir al juicio eterna del Flight of the Conchords, que hace muchos años han entendido totalmente este idea de declaraciones de “si.”

Masculinities Mondays: 25th of August 2014

This weekend I went out to a club with some friends (and friends of friends) for a night of dancing.  I was having an awesome time dancing when one of the guys in the group who I’d been dancing with earlier in the night grabbed my hand and led me to another of the multiple rooms of the club. Once we were away from my friends he told me that I was sexy and kissed me. I smiled but told him that I wasn’t interested and pushed his chest away with my hand. He tried to kiss me again and I again responded with ‘No,’ but this time with less of a smile and with a stronger push, and I suggested that we go back to join our friends. We had almost reached where the rest of the group was when he tried once more to kiss me and so I told him that I was already going out with someone – and only then did he stop. When I returned, one of my guy friends, noticing that I wasn’t my usual bubbly, partying self, asked me what was wrong. I tried to explain – as best I could, against the thumping electronic music and through the 1am haze – but he just smirked a little bit and told me to chill out and not take things to seriously. Sure, it was just a bit of flirting in a club on a Friday night and, sure, nothing really happened and I was able to control the situation. But how could I make my friend understand that I felt like the other guy had somewhat violated my private space because the kisses were unwanted; that I felt completely disrespected because he only stopped his advances when he thought he was stepping on another man’s turf; and that I had felt unsafe? When, an hour or so later, another guy approached me, I just instinctively and instantly said “Sorry, but I have a boyfriend.” IMG_7459

My mind was immediately thrown back to Alecia Lynn Eberhardt’s excellent article from last year, “Stop Saying ‘I Have a Boyfriend.'” Eberhardt quotes another blogger saying,

Male privilege is “I have a boyfriend” being the only thing that can actually stop someone from hitting on you because they respect another male-bodied person more than they respect your rejection/lack of interest.

Eberhardt then goes on to explain, however, that women are not doing themselves/men/society as a whole any favours by using this excuse:

If the woman in question was boyfriend-free, would she automatically be swooning in the arms of the creep harassing her? Unlikely. So why do we keep using these excuses? We’re not teaching men anything about the consequences of their behavior (i.e. polite, real conversation warrants a response while unwanted come-ons do not). We’re merely taking the easy exit, and, simultaneously, indicating to men that we agree, single girls are “fair game” for harassment.

I couldn’t agree more. But, then, I tried saying no, I tried walking away, and the only strategy that worked was saying I had a boyfriend. Should I have pulled out a full-force debate about patriarchy there in the club, as Eberhardt suggests? Probably. Did I? Nope – I honestly just wanted to get myself out of the situation as quickly as possible. Will I avoid the boyfriend excuse and launch into a gender discussion next time? Hopefully – if I feel that my friends have my back. 

All of this begs the question, ‘What are guys to do?’

For guy friends who want to be supportive, you can keep an eye out for your friends, you can speak up when you witness other guys using misogynistic language or harassing a woman, you can listen and try to understand when your female friends tell you they feel unsafe…and, if you happen to be in New York tomorrow night, you can educate yourself at the Gotham Comedy Club’s show, “Dudes Against Violence Against Women – Because DUH.”

 

For guys who want to be able to approach women without coming across as creepy, Charlie Glick’s recent blog post “Being Bold” has some practical advice. He suggests beginning with an ‘if’ statement (If you’re in the mood/If you’re available/If you’re into it), followed with a statement of your desire (I would like to go out to dinner with you/I’d enjoy kissing you/I’d love to spend the night with you). Glick explains,

These sorts of invitations make it clear that the desire is only there if the other person is into it…If you aren’t in the mood, then I wouldn’t enjoy kissing you. It’s implicit that the desire is present if (and only if) the other person’s consent, interest, and availability are present. That demonstrates a high level of care and respect, and it makes a difference.

And if you can’t be bothered to read the article, you can always fall back on the eternal wisdom of the Flight of the Conchords, who had this whole ‘if’ statement idea down years ago. 

 

Masculinities Mondays: 18th of August 2014

Happy Monday (ie. Tuesday) everyone! First up, since today is World Humanitarian Day, we would like to give a huge shout out to all of our friends and colleagues who are working tirelessly, often in very challenging and dangerous contexts, to bring humanitarian assistance to those in need. There are too many of you to name but you know who you are – thank you for the work that you do, for your courage and your dedication. #TheWorldNeedsMore #PeopleWhoCareAndWhoAct

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  • To kick off the celebrations and to give you some inspiration on how you can help, check out this cool music video by David Guetta. Then read the personal stories of humanitarian aid workers here. And, for those in Australia, why not take part in the Action Hour for Refugees
  • Speaking of people who are doing amazing work, congratulations to the wonderful folks at Raising Voices, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the Center for Domestic Violence Prevention, and Makerere University for their release of the results of the SASA! Study. Some of the encouraging results include:
    • The level of physical partner violence against women was 52% lower in SASA! communities than in control communities
    • In SASA! communities 76% of women and men believe physical violence against a partner is not acceptable, while only 26% in control communities believe the same
    • Women exposed to SASA! were three times more likely to receive helpful support when reporting violence than women not exposed to SASA!

Check out more information and videos from community activists here or read the open access article about the SASA! Study here.  Violence is preventable.

  • Returning the theme of gender and militarism, this report by ABC News Australia entitled ‘The Gender Mission,’ examines Norway’s efforts to create an inclusive, cohesive, unisex defence force. In the far north of the country, along Norway’s border with Russia, the Norwegian defence force is piloting a template in which male and female soldiers train together, do the same work as each other, and share rooms together. One female recruit states,

We don’t focus on like female and male. We are just one team. Everyone does the same job so yeah it is what it is. It’s not a problem at all.

Female Norwegian soldiers have been involved in combat roles since 1985 and have fought on the frontlines in several conflicts, including Afghanistan. Next year Norway will become the first NATO country to introduce mass conscription for women. Norwegian Defence Minister, Ine Erikson Soreide explains that this policy is about more than just the military: 

We would like to choose from the most motivated men and women, because we think that we cannot afford in a modern Armed Forces to not use the competencies that both genders have…We have equal opportunities in the workforce, we have most of our women integrated fully in the workforce and that is what contributes to our wealth alongside the oil and gas and natural resources. In countries where you don’t include women in the workforce, you will have huge problems with actually extracting all the opportunities and getting welfare and wealth.

While the report is a bit light on the analysis and it would be good to learn more about how the Norwegian defence force has handled cases of harassment and abuse, it is nonetheless an interesting contribution to discussions about gendered militarism, and ideas of protection and nation-building. 

  • Meanwhile, in Ireland, Jessica Valenti reports that the country’s new Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act of 2013 is already failing to protect women. Although the Act made abortion legal if the woman’s life is threatened by the pregnancy or if she is suicidal, a teenager who was reportedly raped and became suicidal was denied an abortion within a safe timeframe and was forced to have a risky cesarean section just 25 weeks into her pregnancy. The UN has already criticised the new law and UN Human Rights Committee Chairman, Nigel Rodley, said the Act treated women who have been raped as “a vessel and nothing more.”   
  • And, finally, Clementine Ford discusses the need to talk to children about anal sex. In light of a recent study in the U.K. on anal heterosex among young people, Ford explains the crucial need for parents and educators to speak to children about how to safely and consensually engage in anal sex. The study found that many teenage girls felt pressured to have anal sex, while many adolescent boys felt pressure to persuade girls to do it. Ford writes,

Issues of pleasure and consent should be considered central rather than peripheral to comprehensive sex education…Sexual exploration is unavoidable in adolescents, and healthy teenagers are the ones who’ve been empowered to make informed choices. As uncomfortable as it might make adults to think about children having anal sex, the reality is that it’s not only happening, it’s happening with the absence of information and sensible instruction.

Unsure how to start that conversation with your kids or students? Have a look here, here and here for some ideas on how to get started.

Have a great week, everyone – and get talking!

Masculinities Mondays: 11th of August 2014

It’s a bit of a mixed bag this week, but here’s what’s been going on in terms of gender and masculinities around the world this week:

  • Picking up from some of last week’s discussion, is Elena Maryles Sztokman’s article in The Atlantic, ‘Gaza: It’s a Man’s War.’ Focusing on Israeli media and leadership, Sztockman argues that the conflict in Gaza has been dominated by men and characterised by misogyny and sexism. 

Not only do women suffer from war, but they are often left to pick up the pieces resulting from violent choices made by men. Moreover, the exclusion of women means that the same value system that sidelines female citizens…If Israeli men have trouble seeing Israeli women as more than pin-up girls for soldiers, how will all-male teams of decision-makers view the women of Gaza? If Israeli leaders don’t view Israeli women as equal partners, how will they view non-Israeli women—and men?

Sztokman makes a compelling argument that incorporating women (in a real and participatory way) into the decision-making on peacebuilding and conflict-resolution may be the solution for peace in Gaza, not because she thinks that all women are pacifists and all men militarists, but because women are 50% of the population and women and men have different lived experiences.  Israeli lawmaker Naomi Chazan, who has been working on UN Security Council Resolution 1325, also calls on the the active involvement of women:

Our job as women is not to cry and pick up the pieces. It’s to do something to make a difference.

  • Similarly, Laurel Stone’s research on women in peacebuilding backs up many of the arguments in Sztokman’s article. Stone explains that the key is not simply to involve women in the peace process, but to involve local women from the conflict. Likewise, she states that, while increasing the representation of women in political decision-making bodies is essential, the focus should be on quality and not simply on quantity. She concludes,

Building quality representation in local female leadership may be the key ingredient to a peaceful society as women are empowered to transform conflict.

  • Meanwhile, in the US, comedian Jim Norton has released this opinion piece in Time about not being ashamed to buy sex. Norton explains that witnessing violence against a sex worker is what made him believe that sex work needs to be legalised. Speaking from “the honest point of view of someone who has spent the equivalent of a Harvard Law School education on purchasing sex,” Norton argues, 

The illegal aspect of prostitution has never deterred me, nor would legalizing it cause me to engage in it more…By keeping prostitution illegal and demonizing all of its parties, we (you) are empowering pimps and human traffickers and anyone else who wants to victimize sex workers because they feel helpless under the law.

At the same time, on the completely other side of the argument, is this

  • Still in the US, Obama has released this video message to welcome the participants of the the Gay Games, which began this weekend in Cleveland, Ohio. In the video he states,

I know some of you come from places that require courage and defiance to come out, sometimes at great personal risk. You should know the United States stands with you and for your human rights.

  • On the work front, two interesting studies were released recently. One study, by Slater & Gordon in the UK, discovered that, despite pregnancy discrimination being illegal in the UK, 40% of employers said they they are wary of hiring women of childbearing age and a quarter said that they would rather hire a man to avoid issues of maternity leave and childcare. Changing parental leave laws next April to allow men to participate more in caring for their children, however, might impact this trend. Another study, by the University of Colorado, on workplace diversity, found that anyone  – anyone apart from white men – who defends workplace diversity is perceived as less confident and often is given lower scores on performance evaluations. 

Masculinities Mondays: 4th of August 2014

As the 72 hour humanitarian truce in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict appears to be holding, I’ve been thinking a lot about the gendering of war and nation-building, which reader Kamani also mentioned in response to Masculinities Mondays a couple of weeks ago.

  • Firstly, I have not been able to avoid the patronising ‘womenandchildren’ rhetoric in the media coverage of this whole crisis. A few examples:
    • In this interview, Channel 4 news anchor John Snow accuses Israeli spokesperson Mark Regev, saying, “You are deliberately targeting neighbourhoods in which you know there are women and children.”
    • Reporting on last week’s attack on the Abu Hussein school, Robert Tait of the Telegraph writes, “Many of the dead were women and children.”
    • Similarly, Peter Beaumont of The Guardian reported about an attack last Thursday “Most of the injured were women and children…Most of the wounded were moved initially to a local hospital where terrified women and children clung to each other.”
    • This Washington Post infographic claims that, as of the 4th of August, 1256 Palestinian civilians had been killed and “of those, 204 were women and 380 children.” If you do the maths, that means that 672 men had been killed – more than triple the number of women killed.

None of these articles explicitly point out the number of men who have been killed, and only the Washington Post infographic mentions the gender of the Israeli soldiers who have been killed (and that’s only if you look closely). So, what are we to make of all this? That men’s lives don’t matter as much? That women are just passive victims of war? That women are, essentially, equivalent to children? While the deaths of these women and of these children are, indeed, tragic, isn’t anyone’s death in such a conflict tragic?

These concerns are not at all new, nor are they isolated to the current conflict in Gaza. Numerous feminist theorists, including Cynthia Enloe, Zillah Eisenstein and Nira Yuval Davis, have all written extensively on the instrumentalisation of women in wars and nation-building rhetoric. Indeed, last year, in reference to U.S. intervention in Syria, Eisenstein wrote:

Calling for the protection of “womenandchildren” allows leaders to frame wars as matters of national security, under the assumption that women and children must be protected for nations to be secure…But this does not make sense, unless you have adopted a patriarchal stance that women are not equal participants with men and a deep part of our common humanity. Misogyny separates women from men as different, lesser than, and in need of protection.

This is exactly what I see occurring with the English-language media coverage of the conflict in Gaza and, actually, in almost every conflict, and if we are going to address gender inequality, we need to call out these quiet, institutionalised forms of gendered discrimination. And, while you’re at it, if you’re searching for a refreshing look at the representation of women in Gaza (a look that defies the ‘womenandchildren’ rhetoric), check out this wonderful collection of photos by Tanya Habjouqa.

  • In an opinion piece on Al Jazeera, Marwan Bishara discusses the misogyny and racism that he sees as inextricably tied in to Israel’s militarism, including the real and metaphorical suggestions of rape as an acceptable form of retribution in war. I would argue, however, that a certain type of masculinity, founded on violence and subordination of ‘the Other’, is central to the way both sides construct the idea of a nation in all wars, not just this one.
  • Indeed, speaking about women and militarism in Myanmar, social anthropologist and documentary filmmaker, Dr. Khin Mar Mar Kyi, argues that gender inequality is an implicit characteristic of militarised nations. She states,

The military is an extreme form of male dominance, an extreme form of patriarchy. In places of military dominance, women can never be valued, women can never be equal, their rights are not protected and their needs are not considered. In places where the military dominates, women face extreme discrimination.

Speaking about peace and reconciliation in Myanmar, she calls for the full and equal participation of women in peace talks:

We need to include women in peace talks because women are not only half of the population but also half of the resources of our country. You cannot afford to waste half the population and resources in these peace talks. No woman, no peace.

  • For Spanish-speakers, in the first of a two-part episode on Colombian TV programe ‘El Sofa,’ Giovanni Muñoz, co-founder of Colectivo Hombres y Masculinidades (Men and Masculinities Collective),  talks about the Collective’s work on promoting new ways of being a man in Colombia, that are not based on violence and aggression. Talking about peace building in Colombia, Muñoz explains,

    If we really want to talk about peace in our society, if we really want to start forming peace, we have to start forming the men…What we want is…to, in some way, change this macho society that we are in, this society of maltreatment, this violent society; we want to start to change it – it’s possible.

    It’s an excellent interview (about 20 minutes long) that also discusses programs in Colombia focussed on women’s sexual rights, increasing the acceptability of physical intimacy between male friends, and transgender rights.

  • Meanwhile, focusing on another aspect of the gendering of war, Margarita Rodriguez reports that, in Colombia, many ex-guerrilla women are now searching for their children that were forcibly taken away from them when they were members of rebel groups. Although most female guerrilla fighters who became pregnant were told to have abortions, those that did not had to give up their babies.
  • To switch topic to a lighter, but no less important, note, LEGO has taken note of the complaint of 7 year-old Charlotte Benjamin that there were not enough active and intelligent female LEGO characters and has released a female scientists set, designed by geophysicist Ellen Kooijman. In her letter to LEGO, Charlotte wrote,

    I love Legos but I don’t like that there are more Lego boy people and barely any Lego girls…All the [Lego] girls did was sit at home, go to the beach, and shop, and they had no jobs but the boys went on adventures, saved people, had jobs, even swam with sharks! I want you to make Lego girl people and let them go on adventures and have fun, ok!?!

    The set, which includes a paleontologist, an astronomer and a chemist, is available for purchase on LEGO’s website.

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    LEGO’s new female scientists set. Source: LEGO

  • In a move that is hopefully a sign of changes to come, a Ugandan court has dismissed the country’s punitive antigay law. Although the court struck down the law on technical, rather than human rights, grounds, activists in Uganda and around the world are celebrating this progressive step. The antigay law, approved by the government in December 2013, criminalized homosexual acts, with some being punishable by life in prison.

I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven. No, I would say sorry, I mean I would much rather go to the other place…I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that’s how strongly I feel about this.

That’s it for this week. Feel free to send us your comments or ideas for topics you’d like to see covered. Have a great week!