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!

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