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. 

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