Para reflexão: Homens e Igualdade de Género

Este foi uma comunicação apresentada por Jeff Hearn no contexto da Presidência Sueca da União Europeia em 2001. Levanta inúmeras questões importantes para alcançar a igualdade de género. Encontra-se na linha da Resolução da Assembleia Geral das Nações Unidas sobre o papel dos rapazes e dos homens na promoção da igualdade de género. Para ler e reflectir atentamente…

Men and Gender Equality: Resistance, Responsibilities and Reaching Out

Abstract: As conference participants, you are already strongly involved in debates on gender equality in your own country, in the EU and beyond. The purpose of this conference is to develop the discussion on how to get men involved in gender equality issues in the EU. This means we have to consider such questions as: How do we think about and understand men’s relations to and involvement with gender equality? What are the different kinds of relationship that men have to gender equality? Why is gender equality of interest to some, often relatively few, men? Why is it not of interest to some, often many, men? What are the theoretical, political, policy and practical reasons why it is important for men to become involved in these issues? How is this to be done? What are the promises and dangers of these developments?

Many of these questions take us to the very heart of our assumptions, understandings, politics and ideologies about gender equality, even the very notion of gender. In many countries gender equality is still seen as ‘just women’s business’. Gender equality, as it is often understood, does not necessarily problematise men; it may adopt the ‘short agenda’ of seeking to elevate women to the way men are. Throughout I stress the need for men to understand men’s broad relation to gender inequality and equality. While men are collectively and individually located as powerful in relation to women, these are not fixed or monolithic structures of power. Indeed part of the structuring of patriarchy is the maintenance of relations of power between men, by age, class, ethnicity, sexuality and other divisions. Some subordinated men, along with those who are defined as supportive of women, may also be discriminated against. To problematise gender equality is not a matter of adding ’the male perspective’ or a ’male liberation’ perspective to an existing notion of gender equality. To do this is comparable to adding ’the white perspective’ in a racist society, and is as such antagonistic to equality. Rather it means fundamentally rethinking what gender equality is, who is to define its framing, and how this translates to practical actions.

In particular I address the resistance of many men to different forms of involvement in gender equality debates, policies and activities; the responsibilities of men in taking part in the promotion of gender equality; and the process of reaching out to other men who are less interested and less involved. Resistance to involvement comes from men for a wide variety of reasons: patriarchal practices, sexism, maintenance of power, complicity in current arrangements, definition of gender equality as ’women’s business’ and not the ’main or most important issues’, preference for men and men’s company. Responsibilities of men for involvement in gender equality range across the full range of social and economic arenas and issues: work, family and home, sexuality, violence, education, health, sport, organisations and management. Reaching out concerns how to make contact with men around these issues and arenas. Attention will be given to the question of men’s violence, men’s health and ill health, and the intersection of home, work and time.

Introduction: Gender Equality, Men and Power

As conference participants, you are already strongly involved in debates on gender equality in your own country, in the EU and beyond. The Amsterdam Treaty, Principles, Article 3 states that in all the activities referred to, the EU: ‘shall aim to eliminate inequalities, and to promote equality, between men and women.’ Paragraph 29 of the Lisbon Presidency Conclusions called for ‘(the) furthering (of) all aspects of equal opportunities, including reducing occupational segregation, and making it easier to reconcile working life and family life, in particular by setting a new benchmark for improved childcare provision.’ Though the EU has strong policies promoting gender equality and in many European countries there is legislation barring discrimination on grounds of gender, gender inequality persists. We still live and work in various (kinds of) patriarchies. So, what is the missing ingredient? One answer is that this all takes time; another answer is that this is beyond the control of governments and policy-makers; a third answer is men.

This conference aims to develop the discussion on how to get men involved in gender equality issues. This means we have to consider such questions as: How do we think about and understand men’s relations to and involvement with gender equality? What are the different kinds of relationship that men have to gender equality? Why is gender equality of interest to some, often relatively few, men? Why is it not of interest to some, often many, men? What are the theoretical, political, policy and practical reasons why it is important for men to become involved in these issues? How is this to be done? What are the promises and dangers of these developments?

Many of these questions take us to the very heart of our assumptions, understandings, politics and ideologies about gender equality, even the very notion of gender and what counts as gender. Gender equality is about gender, equality and power. Gendering equality means making gender relations (more) equal, and making equality (more) explicitly gendered. Indeed equality without gender is not equality. Gender and (in)equality are thus in a two-way relationship; (in)equality constructs gender, and gender constructs (in)equality; gender and equality are a two-way street. This means trying to move from non-gendered non-equality to gendered equality.

Many debates on equality have historically either been about ’equality without gender’ or the ’(’gender-neutral’ equality) add women’ perspective. In many countries gender equality is still seen as ‘just women’s business’; indeed most of these debates are promoted and maintained by women; in some cases, women and women’s attempts to change may even be seen by some as the problem rather than men’s resistance to change. If there is a social problem around gender equality, it is the ‘social problem of men’. So, before going further, it may be helpful to point out that gender equality can mean several different things:

– gendered representative equality (for example, gender quotas in representation);
– gendered equal access to voice (if resources are distributed so this can happen);
– gendered civil rights or human rights;
– gendered equal opportunities (short or long agendas);
– gendered equal outcomes;
– equality in all gender relations – in work, organisations, families etc.;
– the transcending of gender. (O/H).

My view is that gender equality is not a fixed thing; it is a shorthand for a very long term process of changing gender relations, and making them more equal, more fair, more democratic, less oppressive and less patriarchal. This involves changing men. Gender equality, as it is often understood, does not necessarily problematise men. It may adopt the ‘short agenda’ of seeking to elevate women to the way men are, rather than the ‘long (transformative) agenda’ of transforming both women and men (from changing the size of the slices of the cake to remixing the cake, or getting a new recipe for the cake to making a stew rather than a cake). Though the debate is not new, to talk about gender equality and men together, to foreground the relation of gendered men and gender(ed) equality can often still seem rather novel.

Yet whatever kind of definition of gender equality is used, can we talk about gendering equality and making gender relations equal without talking about men? In many ways, clearly not. Men are just as gendered as women, and men are clearly implicated in the maintenance of gender inequality. For these reasons, we need both an analysis of men, and practical ways of engaging men. To problematise gender equality is not a matter of simply adding ’the male perspective’ or a ’male liberation’ perspective to an existing notion of gender equality.

To do this would be like adding ’the white perspective’ in a racist society, and is as such antagonistic to equality. Rather it means fundamentally rethinking what gender equality is, who is to define its framing, and how this translates to practical actions. Rather than adding the ‘male perspective’, it means changing men. While a critical focus on men is probably not in men’s general interest (just as it is not in the interests of other dominant groups to focus critically on them), there is much to be gained by men in living in a more gender equal world – both one’s immediate social world, and the world generally. Thanks to feminism, the gay, lesbian and new sexual movements, some men’s positive responses to feminism, and some other critical movements, we can now talk about gender equality, men and power as intimately entwined together.

In this talk I want to consider the implications for men of developing gender equality and the challenges that this presents. This applies in all fields of life, including personal relations, organisations, policy-making, development work, academia. These arenas are personal, local, national, regional and global. Some specific examples from these fields are discussed. These involve not only changes in the formal distribution of power but also the very social construction of men, men’s practices and masculinities. Policies and practices are needed that address these issues in all policy arenas; they need to name men and the persistence of men’s powers, without stereotyping men. There are, however, dangers that an increased focus on men may divert attention from women’s agendas by arguing that men should have even more resources for solving these problems. Vigilance is necessary in this respect. I will return to this at the end of my talk.

Throughout I stress the need for men to understand men’s broad relation to gender inequality and equality. While men are collectively and individually located as powerful in relation to women, these are not fixed or monolithic structures of power. Indeed part of the structuring of patriarchy is the maintenance of relations of power between men, by age, class, ethnicity, sexuality and other divisions. Another part is that some subordinated men, along with those who are defined as supportive of women, may also be discriminated against. A further part of the operation and ideology of patriarchy is the obscuring of patriarchal power relations. Challenging men’s power necessarily thus involves changing men; changing men involves deconstructing men ’as men’; men are also classed, ethnicised, aged, differently (able)bodied, and so on – not simply men. And in the longer term this still may involve the abolition of ’men’ as a ubiquitously important social category.

These kind of debates do not happen suddenly. They arise from long term practice, policy, politics and research. Recent years have seen the naming of men as men. Men have become the subject of growing political, policy and academic debates. In some respects this is not new; there have been previous periods of debate on men, and then, in a different sense, much of politics, research and policy has always been about men, often dominantly so. What is new is that these debates are now more explicit, more gendered, more varied and sometimes more critical. Men and masculinities can now at least be talked about as problematic. We can now ask such questions as: What is a man? How do men maintain power? Is there a crisis of masculinity? Or is there a crisis of men in a more fundamental way? Do we know what the future of men looks like or should be? What policy and practice implications follow both in relation to men and boys, and for men and boys? More specifically, what are the implications of gendering equality for rethinking, ‘repracticing’, ‘rebeing’ men? What are the implications of the gendering of men for gendering equality?

Among the several influences that have brought this focus on men and masculinities, first and foremost is impact on men of Second, and now Third (or 1000th?), Wave Feminisms. Challenges have been laid and questions have been asked by feminists and feminisms about all aspects of men and men’s actions. To engage with men, equality and power needs the ordinary social use of ideas and concepts from feminism: patriarchy, fratriarchy, viriarchy (the rule of adult males), interpersonal and institutional sexism, gender hierarchy, gender system, gender order, gender regime, gender contract, masculinities, etc. It entails the direct naming of men, not the continued use of ‘political actors’ or some other gender-neutral phrase. Different feminist initiatives have focused on different aspects of men and suggested different analyses of men and different ways forward for men. Feminism has demonstrated many theoretical and practical lessons for men, though men seem to keep ignoring or forgetting most of them. One is that the understanding of gender relations, women and men has to involve attention to questions of power. Another is that to transform gender relations, and specifically men’s continued dominance of much social life, means not only changes in what women do and what women are but also that men have to change too. This lesson is hard for many men to hear, even harder for men to act on in politics, policy development and personal practice.

So how doi we understand men’s different relations to feminism and gender equality. Men’s responses to feminism and gender equality have been various. While men in mainstream organisations have usually sat tight, appearing to hope that feminism would go away, meanwhile some men have organised, mainly outside mainstream organisations, in more explicit and different relations to feminism. These men have often sought to organise in rather different and distinctive ways to those in mainstream organisations. This has often involved reconstructing organising in a more consciously gendered way and on a less formal and sometimes less hierarchical basis, through the small group, network and large group meeting. They often entail political identification ’as men’, though this can also itself have its own dangers in re-providing a gendered power base for men (see Stoltenberg, 1990). Sometimes such responses have been from an anti-sexist and profeminist stance; often not; sometimes from an ambiguous politics; and sometimes from an anti-feminist position. The diversity of relations and responses by men is seen when we consider the various meanings of the term, ’the men’s movement’ (Hearn, 1993). An early, and still very interesting, statement of anti-sexist men’s ’commitments’ produced about 1980 reads:

– commitment to the anti-sexist men’s group;
– consciousness-raising done rigorously;
– support for the Women’s Liberation Movement;
– support for Gay Liberation;
– sharing child care;
– learning from gay and feminist culture;
– action on our own behalf;
– propaganda and outreach programmes linked to action;
– link-ups with other Men Against Sexism groups;
– renunciation of violence (physical, emotional, and verbal)
(Commitments Collective, n.d.) (O/H).

This represents another set of challenges to men, but this time by men ourselves. I still broadly agree with this list above, though there are some problems, notably around the ’sharing’ child care, in view of some men’s abuse of children. It is worth thinking what this kind of list would look like if updated to 2001. If we were reconstructing such a list now, we would need to talk about supporting and learning from feminisms, from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender movements, from the anti-racist, postcolonial, anti-disablist and other critical politics, and the responses to global, ecological and cyberpolitics. Profeminist organising involves attention to both the content and the process of organising. It involves questioning the ends and the means of gender equality, of not always knowing what is best to do, of not being an authority on everything. Other, more composite groups of men have identified as men, for example, as ’older men’, ’black gay men’. Other forces for change include gay movements, queer politics, and ’new sexual movements’. While it is difficult to generalise about these politics, they have often emphasised the desirability of (some) men to each other, the more public recognition of men through same-sex desire, and the associated or implied critique of certain heterosexual men’s practices.

So how do we understand different men’s different relations to gender equality? Let me suggest two slightly different ways of thinking about this. First, we might argue there is some kind of continuum from those men who are actively supportive of gender equality to those are in favour of this (in theory) but do not do anything in particular to those who are ‘not bothered’ to those who are actively hostile. Thus we might call these:

– Active friendly (pro-equality 1);
– Passive friendly (pro-equality 2);
– Passive hostile (anti-equality 1);
– Active hostile (anti-equality 2).

These positions can be occupied by individual men, groups of men, even whole organisations, even whole governments; they can operate in gender equality politics, in working life, at home, in personal relationships, even in bed.

A second way of approaching men’s relations to gender equality is a little more complicated. In the US the increasing array of political positions adopted by men’s organising has been analysed by Michael Messner (1997) in terms of positions within three points of a triangle. The apexes of the triangle are defined in terms of: first, the recognition of institutionalised privileges, second, the recognition of differences/inequalities among men, and, third, the recognition of the ’costs of masculinity’. This produces a less either-or analysis, and less of a continuum. It also points to the complexity of positions and motivations, especially when one comes to think of the question of differences/inequalities, and moreover the different kinds of differences/inequalities amongst men that operate in different societies. It highlights the way in which one cannot reduce gender equality and gender policy and politics more generally to one ‘left-right’ dimension. It opens up some political spaces.

Often this involves recognising dilemmas and ambivalences. Men may ask themselves, individually and collectively:

– how important is changing myself and other men?
– how much effort should I put into this?
– do I want this to be a fundamental part of my life?
– in what ways do I like being a man, and in what ways do I not like being a man?
– in what ways do I feel ambivalent about change?

There are also contradictions which men seeking to change may often face:
– how do I learn from feminism? Which feminism?
– how do I learn from feminism without taking over women’s space?
– do I need to depend more on men, on women, on both?
– how do I recognise ’being a man’ without emphasising that status?
– how do I recognise ’being a man’ whilst stopping being a Man?

Thus while one can recognise that there are certain groups of men who have very different and sometimes hostile stances on gender equality, it is necessary to engage with resistances, responsibilities and reaching out for all men.

Men in Europe: a Context of Gender Equality
The context of these debates is Europe and in particular the EU, in both its present and future forms. If we compare the gendered power relations between women and men in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, both major changes and major continuities are obvious in most European countries. While changes abound in law, work, citizenship, personal relations and so on, there has been a widespread, stubborn persistence in men’s dominance – in politics, business, finance, war, diplomacy, the state, policing, crime, violence generally, heterosexual institutions and practices, science, technology, culture, media, and many other social arenas. What is perhaps most interesting is that while men’s general power as a (the) dominant social category remains virtually unchanged and may even have become intensified in some respects, men’s power is constantly being challenged, fragmented, even transformed. Men are more than ever being affirmed as ‘men’; whilst at the same time the experience of being a man is subject to questioning and acute fracturing (Hearn, 1992). If one looks at men’s situation, particularly men’s power, in European countries one finds a complex mixture of change and no-change.

If one looks at the state of men in European countries, one finds both clear similarities but also great differences. In EU FP5 Thematic Network ’The Social Problem of Men’, of which I am one of the Principal Contractors, a network of researchers in 10 countries (Estonia, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Norway, Poland, Russian Federation, UK) are examining this question. This involves women and men researchers working together; it has led to setting up CROME (Critical Research on Men in Europe) ( The Network is initially focusing on 4 main themes: home and work; men’s relations to social exclusion; men’s violences; and men’s health. There are widespread consistencies: men’s domination of management and public positions of power; segregation in employment; men’s benefit from the gender wage gap (often c.25%); men’s far less childcare and housework; men’s domination of violence; along with men’s lower life expectancy and greater morbidity; greater suicide; and the social exclusion of certain groups of men, by unemployment, imprisonment, alcoholism, ethnicity, nationality, sexuality etc. (O/Hs). There are wide variations in the relative levels of women’s and men’s employment, in levels of violence, homicide and suicide, in ethnic diversity, and in economic wealth and standard of living. There are great variations in political history, geographical position, and experiences of war and conflict, which are central to gaining a clear picture of men’s societal position.

While such patterns recur, the way in which men’s position and problematisation occurs varies a great deal in different countries. The different ways in which men are problematised need to be understood in their social context. Similarly, specific changes of individual men and groups of men should be contextualised by general social changes. For example in some countries, current talk may be of ’boys’ underachievement’ but social changes around men are much wider. Rapid transformations of capitalism, huge losses of men’s manufacturing jobs and growing service employment have occurred. Individual fathers’ authority, no longer automatic, is in possible tension with the state. In many countries separations, divorces and remarriages have increased. There is growing recognition of the ways men are culturally and ethnically variable. All these changes construct ordinary men in myriad ways. Furthermore, whatever change in men and men’s power occurs, or indeed is advocated, can affect all areas of social life, including education, class, work, employment, race, sexuality, violence, the family, childcare, the state, personal and private life, sport, care, health, illness, ageing, birth, death, the body, and so on.

Thus gender power, men’s power, and gender (in)equality look rather different depending on which country and which society one is looking at and from which perspective. Indeed to be and live within a society, like Finland, where there is a fairly strong ideology and even practice around equality and gender equality, does not mean that men are directly changing their relations to power. It is quite possible to develop relative gender equality on some measures yet not to change the way men are in other ways, for example, in being supportive of feminism. A different situation pertains in the transitional nations; there the previous Soviet-dominated regimes carried the ideology of equality but in a way that did not challenge men’s societal dominance. The recent transitional period has since seen some major social and economic distress, and this has hit some groups of men particularly hard, for example, in terms of unemployment, illness and mortality. Thus men’s relations to state and nation are far from uniform: we might note men as controllers of the state, as the dominant group in the reproduction of political regimes, as adult male citizens, and as those (immigrant, black, young, homeless, prisoners and so on) excluded as citizens.

I cannot emphasise too strongly the importance of examining the national and transnational context throughout the whole of society, and not only at the level of everyday work and family. The greatest gender inequalities persist at the level of governments, multinational business, the military, arms trading, finance, wealth-holding, elites, and many transnational organisations. The nation-state and national politics have been intimately and dominantly associated with the construction of men or certain men as citizens, and the nation-state has itself been characteristically patriarchal. Though much has changed, UN statistics show this is not the case. The nation-state remains profoundly undemocratic. A clear challenge for men is to face the enormity of men’s structural advantage and power, and the resistances that follow. Thus includes the need to transform the very ’top’ level of society.

In the rest of my talk I address: the resistance of many men to involvement in gender equality debates, policies and activities; the responsibilities of men in taking part in the promotion of gender equality; and the process of reaching out to other men who are less interested and less involved. In each case, there are different forms of involvement, including formal processes and procedures of gender equality laws and policies; formulation of policy and practice in other public arenas (governmental, non-governmental, business); and the everyday practice of ‘gender (in)equality’ in all spheres of life, private and public. I urge you to think about how these apply in your own situations and national contexts. In each case I discuss specific examples.

Resistances: Reproducing Men’s Power
How and why do men resist? Certain men resist gender equality in active, hostile and sometimes organised ways; for others, resistance is part of their practice, even if they say otherwise. Much of the active resistance by men to a positive involvement in gender equality stems from men’s relations to power. To involve men in gender equality, one has to understand and indeed confront men’s resistance, both political and personal, both overt and less conscious. This is the language of opposition to privilege. This thus constitutes resistance to resistance. Let us have no illusions: straightforwardly patriarchal men are not going to be interested in gender equality agendas, unless they can use them to gain more ’rights’ still for their own benefit or unless they have to go along with them for other reasons, such as political window–dressing or political gain. To understand men’s resistance, it is useful to understand the nature of men’s power and men’s relations to power. It is still not usual to put men and power together, whether we are talking about power in personal life, power in ‘mainstream politics’, power in policy-making, or academic discussions of power.

Resistance to positive involvement in gender equality comes from men for a wide variety of reasons: patriarchal practices, sexism, maintenance of power, complicity in current arrangements, definition of gender equality as ’women’s business’ and not the ’main or most important issues’, preference for men and men’s company, as well as less conscious psychological ambivalences and resistances. Men, even men who are relatively less powerful, have a general (almost existential) relation to power; it is perhaps not so surprising that many men have a persistent resistance to ’losing’ power. A specific challenge to men in developing gender equality is changing the ways in which men generally relate to power and gendered power. With men’s violence, the presence of power is obvious: men’s violence destroys gender equality.

Men, as a general category, as different groups of men, and as individual men, are frequently defined in relation to power. Thus men’s general resistance to gender equality is quite ‘natural’. Men and women are set within structural and historical formations of gender power relations, and the reproduction of gendered power. In this sense particular men live within more general structural relations of power. Men’s power operates at many levels. It is structure, having, doing and being of power. Men live within, have, do and ’be’ power. Power is pervasive among different groups of men in their particular situations, sites and locations. Changing men’s relations to power entails changing men’s relations to women, to children, and (reciprocally) to other men. They are both competitive, hierarchical and patriarchal, on one hand, and homosocial and fratriarchal on the other. Men and women are constructed, almost set, within structural and historical formations of gender power relations, and the reproduction of gendered power. Particular men live within more general structural relations of power. More specifically, men have power in terms of holding positions of power and controlling resources, not least of wealth and finance. These structural arrangements and power positions contribute to the maintenance of men’s power.

But power is not only held; it is, like gender, done. The doing of power is continued through the whole range of men’s actions, including subtle persuasion and physical violence. The doing of power is not only in relation to women and children, but also in relation to men (other men). These practices (configurations of practice) are often now referred to as masculinities, themselves characterised as hegemonic, complicit, subordinated, marginalised, resistant. These can also involve the exclusion of certain men from hierarchical status, by competition, even killing (as in war). The worst cases can involve such practices as boys being forced to kill men (as recently in Kosovo). Then there is also the being of power: the being of men at certain times can be characterised as a matter of power – in terms of their experience, motivations and even self-understanding in certain situations.

The challenge of power for men exists in all spheres: personal, political, policy and academic. It involves challenging patriarchy as a system, challenging elite men’s power and the power elites (business, financial, governmental, military, transnational) of men, challenging the distribution of power, and challenging the concentrations of power in particular men’s hands. It entails challenging power for different kinds of men in different sites and arenas. This includes attending to the men practices of power at home, in mainstream organisations, wherever. It highlights the need to challenge men’s power, dominance and violence, whether interpersonal, institutional or structural. The associations of power with specific forms of masculinity have to be challenged. Definitions, understandings and experiences of boyhood and manhood need to move away from power. In many ways this necessitates the development of forms of men’s practice that are profeminist within the contexts of mainstream organisations (Hearn, 1999c). Individual men and certain groups of men may be facing, even confronting, change, and they may indeed be changing, but this has to be put in the context of the stubborn stability of men’s structural power.

The challenges of power in all arenas are important for what it means to be a ‘man’. All are both profoundly structural and intensely personal. Each can also prompt great depths of negativity – feelings of hopelessness, terribleness, desparation – as well as being arenas of possible positive change and hope. Each is a way of unifying men as a class, with different interests to women and dividing men from each other – old from young, heterosexual from gay, healthy from unwell, and so on. Each is a way of oppressing women, children and young people, and a way of relating to other men. And each represents an avenue for men opposing oppression, supporting feminist initiatives, and changing men and power. Attempts to move from non-gendered unequality to gendered equality apply at all levels of power and politics: national, personal, organisational, global. Overcoming these resistances involves changing men at all levels. It involves resistance to resistance. Let me now take a more specific example of resistance in a little more detail: men at work and in organisations and management.

Men at work: men in work, (un)employment, organisations and management

The central importance of ‘work’, still usually meaning paid work, for many men has been well established (Cockburn, 1983, 1991; Collinson and Hearn, 1996b). Work is a source of power and resources, a central life interest, and a medium of identity. It is also a means of ordinary everyday yet structural resistance to gender equality. Men’s ordinary activities in mainstream organisations constitute and construct men’s resistance to ’equality’, without men doing anything special. What are the main ways in which men, particularly adult, able-bodied, ’working age’ men, organise within mainstream/malestream politics? Men organise routinely through organising and managing, as in most political and business organisations. Usually such men’s organising is not defined as gendered; it is seen simply as business or politics or management, not men’s organising. This is a crucial way in which mainstream organising/managing is dominantly seen as non-gendered. Challenging this non-gendering of mainstream organistions, itself a form of gendering, is a challenge for men (Hearn, 2000).

Mainstream political and business organisations continue to remain centres of men’s power. They are the main political economic arenas by which some men maintain power in the public worlds, and the main means of accumulation of many men’s resources. This applies in all the major parts of the public worlds, but especially to men’s accumulation of resources in politics and business. Different groups of men – political leaders, professional politicians, state officials, owners, managers, supervisors, workers, professionals and entrepreneurs – are set in different gendered as well as occupational and class relations to women and each other. It is in organisations that the public doing of gender is predominantly done and re-done. Mainstream political and business organisations are typically intensely gendered, by management, formal and informal hierarchies, divisions of labour, sexual structuring and the structuring of sexuality, relation to the ’private’ and ’domestic’ worlds, and constructions of relations of centre and margins (by membership, employment, physical space, and symbolic meanings). Organisations may be structured in other ways, such as the gendered use and control of violence and abuse.

A well-established mode of gendering is gender segregation in organisations. While this has generally been understood in relation to occupational and organisational divisions, gender segregation reproduces and is reproduced through patterns of homosociality. This provides a different way of viewing gender segregation. Much of men’s activity in politics and at work is strongly homosocial, in terms of men’s homosocial preference for men. Why do so many (apparently heterosexual) men seem to prefer men and their cosy company? Why do many heterosexual men show themselves as such by prefering men’s company? Is simply a complicit acceptance of dominant systems of social power and status, that then accrue reciprocally to the all the men involved by dint of association, or is it a much more socio-emotional or even socio-sexual process (Roper, 1996)? Many heterosexual men seem to love men’s company but not love men.

Mainstream political organisations also institutionalise a mobilisation of gendered bias, so that various forms of complicit masculinity (Carrigan et al., 1985) reproduce men’s taken-for-granted power and authority. This hegemony is maintained by a variety of forms of dominant men’s practices, for example, men’s routine hierarchical organising practices and masculinist managerialism (Collinson and Hearn, 1994, 1996). Cockburn (1990, 1991) has analysed the variety of ways through which men may resist equal opportunity policies, and women’s advancement within organisations. These include: asserting ‘the main aim’; the pursuit of autonomous labour market policy; the evasiveness of power; leaving domestic ties to women; defining certain forms of difference as illegitimate; organisation sexuality; and the shaping of construction of women’s consciousness. Mainstream (malestream) political organisations can be understood as places of men’s organising; they are often in effect ’men’s organisations’ that are full of unnoticed and unnamed ’men’s groups’. Men routinely organise in these groups and organisations, without naming them as such. It is here that feminist demands may often be directed, and where men often respond (predominantly in a negative way) without explicitly calling or thinking of those responses as ’men’s responses’, let alone ’men’s relations to feminist demands’. Men in the political mainstream/malestream are thus easily left ungendered.

While employment changes have transformed many men’s relation to work, men remain in control of most powerful organisations, whether state, capitalist or third sector. This is especially so in terms of men’s continued domination of top management (Collinson and Hearn, 1996a, 1996b) in capital and the state. Top management is occupied by men in about 98% of positions, and there are signs of this increasing rather than decreasing. This resists and undermines gender equality. Men in management are important gendered political actors; while management certainly can be a facilitating process, managers may reproduce uncaring, sexually oppressive, even violent and abusive actions. In most contemporary business organisations managerial prerogative over key decisions remains the taken-for-granted norm, generally unquestioned and unchallenged. This applies, though more subtly, in teamwork, collaborative organising, project organisation and the various forms of organisational restructuring and delayering (Collinson and Collinson, 1997). While management is usually presented as if it is a gender-neutral activity, in reality it remains strongly dominated by men in most organisations (Collinson and Hearn, 1996b). Assumptions of gender-neutrality in and of management have been strongly challenged by feminist and feminist-influenced studies, showing how management often excludes women, especially women of colour and minority ethnic women. Changing organisations so that excluded voices are heard is part of bringing together feminism, profeminism and organisational change and development.

Changing men’s resistance in their relations to work, organisations and management is a very large chanllenge indeed. It involves men challenging the taken-for-granted gender-neutrality of organisations. It involves supporting women and women’s initiatives in organisations and management. If the current gendered form of organisations and management is to change, and if there are to be more women in management, it needs to be accepted that there will be fewer men there. Getting the question of fewer men in management onto policy agendas, or at least onto the table for discussion, seems to be rather difficult. Targets, both nationally and individually, can be set for changes of this sort. This can include discussion of what constitutes a minimum acceptable mass of women in management, and a maximum acceptable mass of men in management. This resistance needs to be resisted.

For men in organisations, managers, policy-makers, politicians and leaders, the challenges to resistance can be summarised as follows:

– considering that if there are more women in management, then there will be less men
– putting this on agendas for discussion
– setting local and national targets for numbers of men in management
– assisting the creation of a minimum mass of women in management
– changing organisations and management
– changing men who are in management
– changing dominant models of management and masculinity
– changing men at home; giving more priority to domestic and caring responsibilities
– structuring training budgets for men and management in inverse proportion to the ratio of women/men in management
– asking how men can assist in not blocking gender equality policies
– using temporary solutions to intractable problems
– attending to issues of sexuality, sexual harassment and violence through changing policies and practices
– asking men managers where they stand (Hearn, 1994).

Responsibilities: the Challenges of Responsible Action by Men

To say ”You are responsible” can mean two different things: that you are responsible for causing this (”It’s your fault”); that you are responsible in how you are acting (”You are solving the problem”). Both meanings are relevant here. The responsibilities of men for involvement in gender equality range across the full range of social arenas: work, family and home, sexuality, violence, education, health, sport, organisations and management. This is part of a view of gender equality that embodies civil rights and human rights, to which many men subscribe, in theory at least. This is the language of action together against injustice. Recognition of men’s responsibilities involves debate, clear policy statements, publications and other materials, education and teaching, professional interventions, profeminist ’menswork’ and ’boyswork’, and research. Governments need strategies on changing men away from power and oppression as part of strategy for women and gender justice. A distinction needs to be drawn between support between and for men that encourages domination and support between and for men that diminishes domination. Broadly profeminist practice has developed in some state and related contexts. These have included support for women’s demands for better working conditions, equal pay, daycare, family-friendly policies, freedom from violence, reproductive and sexuality rights, and so on. Focused initiatives by men have often been in and around the state, the professions, the third sector, and now public-private partnership organisations. They can be understood as taking more conscious responses into mainstream organisations. Other responses have occurred within educational work and youthwork; initiatives around violence (Hearn, 1998, 1999a), such as men’s programmes against violence, work in prisons, campaigns against violence, pornography, rape and sexual assault. Initiatives are necessary not only in the state but throughout all areas of social life, in business, community, media, religion, and other public and private fora.

More specifically, there is a need for men to recognise their responsibility that common immediate and direct forms of control are unacceptable. These include such behaviours as yelling, threatening gestures, verbal threats, defining reality categorically and unilaterally, withholding positive attention, demeaning and persistent criticism, ridiculing, and ignoring women (Adams, n.d.). Similarly, common pitfalls in mixed-gender groups include:

– ’hogging the show’
– being the continual problem solver
– speaking in ’capital letters’
– defensiveness
– task and content focus, to the exclusion of nurturing
– negativism
– transfer on to formal powerful positions
– intransigience and dogmatism
– listening only to oneself
– avoiding feelings
– condescension and paternalism
– using sexuality to manipulate women
– seeking attention and support from women while running the show
– protectively storing key group information for one’s own use
– speaking for others (Moyer and Tuttle, 1983). (O/H).

In contrast, more responsible action for men involves:

– limiting out talking time to our fair share
– not interrupting who is speaking
– becoming a good listener
– getting and giving support
– not giving answers and solutions
– relaxing
– not speaking on every subject
– not putting others down
– nurturing democratic group processes
– interrupting others’ oppressive behaviour (Moyer and Tuttle, 1983). (O/H).

These pitfalls and possibilities have implications for men at home and at work, as workers and as managers. Men have responsibilities to change their behaviour to assist oppose gender injustice. Managers have the responsibility of overseeing and underwriting the behaviour of other men in their charge. Equal opportunities policies can be a way of both implementing greater equality and containing more radical demands for change. Men in management and government have responsibilities to move from resistance to facilitate men’s caring for others. These responsibilities are fundamental in the creation of gender equality at work and at home. The practical arenas of gender equality are thus not just the ‘big questions’ of ‘politics’; they recur in all social life, including personal and private life. These represent a further challenge to men in developing gender equality. One cannot isolate gender equality from other ‘more private’ issues, such as the worlds of intimacies, identities, bodies, and domestic life. Here I address men’s responsibilities in families and men’s responsibilities for opposing violence.

Families, fatherhood and care

Although patriarchy has certainly changed in form over the last century or more, especially through the growth of the state, men’s power still resides partly in the family and the institution of fatherhood (Hearn, 1987). Historically, fatherhood is both a means of possession of and care for young people, and an arrangement between men. It has been and still is a way for some men of living with, being with, being violent to, sexually abusing, caring for and loving particular young people (those called ‘your own’), and a way of avoiding connection, care and contact with other young people. Fatherhood is often seen as a natural, biological ‘fact of life’ rather than socially reproduced. State intervention in the rights and responsibilities of fatherhood has increased greatly in recent years. There have also been paradoxically signs of a growth in the rights of fathers and the assumption that such power and authority are ‘natural’ and ‘normal’. A glance through history and across cultures shows this to be problematic. Fatherhood can involve getting something for nothing, an assumption of rights and authority over others, principally women and children, but also other men. Nice fathers can switch to become nasty ones. While a lack of critical, responsible engagement with the question of fatherhood persists, the institution of fatherhood often carries with it a large ‘reservoir’ of responsibility. And while there is a well-developed, sometimes reactionary politics of fatherhood, there is very little explicit politics of husbands, sons and brothers. There are many aspects of ‘family life’ that are fruitfully considered in terms of men’s responsibilities.

One first areas of responsibility concerns questions of care and caring. These are central in how boys and men change their practice in relation to others, both physically and emotionally. So often men’s avoidance of caring has been the defining feature of ‘being men’. This is a structural question in terms of women doing more caring work, both in private and in public. Caring is not generally seen as a normal part of boyhood and manhood, so a challenge to men’s responsibilties is how to make caring a more taken-for-granted feature of boys and men. Recent years have seen some increases in men’s active participation in childcare and domestic work, but the baseline for that change is low. In addition, specific changes of this kind need to be placed against other changes – for example, women’s employment, domestic technology, and women’s leisure. Men’s activity may be focused on particular tasks, such as weekly shopping, or at particular periods, such as around childbirth. However, fathers with young children are particularly likely to work long hours in employment (Fagan, 1996). This could be for a variety of reasons, including compensation for loss of women’s earnings, contribution of extra working to establish men’s careers, avoidance of childcare, and the reproduction of gender divisions in the family.

There is some evidence of a tendency for men with more education to do more housework, but this should be treated with caution, not least because of the impact of ‘greedy occupations’. There is some reverse evidence that the combination of greater resources for buying services and long hours work mean that better off men do less housework. Men with wives who are in full-time employment may be taking on more household work. There are gradually growing numbers of lone fathers. However, increases in men’s unemployment in the 1980s did not generally lead to increases in men’s work in the home, and may have involved disproportionately negative effects for wives and other women partners (McKee and Bell, 1985, 1986). The 1996 British Social Attitudes Survey found that in 79% of households women did the washing and ironing alone, and in 48% women looked after sick family members alone while men never did so alone (Lunneberg, 1997). The Mintel 2000 Survey found only 2% of men did all the household tasks or shared them equally (Mintel, 1994).

These issues become more complicated as men’s relationships to families develops over time – a practical challenge may be how to be positive and responsible to others in families, without asserting the power and authority of the father. This is especially important in long-term relationships, with or without marriage, and with the increasing number of men involved in separation, divorce and reconstituted families of various kinds. In the UK the number of women petitioning for divorce has doubled in the last twenty years. There is a clear need for a ‘post-marriage’ ethics for men. A challenge for responsible action for men is to love, care for and be friends with young people without drawing on the power of the father. This may even involve working toward the abolition of that power of fatherhood whilst recognising the reality of responsibilities in men’s lives (Hearn, 1983, 1984, 1987). Social and educational policies need to be directed towards assisting those who are carers, not the so-called ‘rights’ of ‘natural fathers’, by virtue of biological fatherhood. They should support carers and encourage boys and men to participate much more in caring. One primary way of doing this is much greater state funding of support for childcarers.

Boys and men learn not to care for others, and changing this is an important part of the project of socialisation, for example, in the education of boys at home and in school. This should be a major policy development – in nurseries and schools, by government and education authorities, and in higher education – not an afterthought or something left to the whims and wishes of individual teachers. Caring is a very personal issue and one built into wider societal structures and political institutions. It is not ‘solved’ by increasing day care provision, vital as that is; the problem goes to the very structuring of how men behave, feel, are. It is an area of life that can bring fundamental change in men’s experience of themselves; it can also bring about both direct antagonisms (deciding who will stay in or look after someone who is ill) and direct improvements in the quality of relationships. The question of caring raises a challenge of how men become and do more caring, without taking over. A special challenge is how to encourage boys and young men to become more used to the bodily care of others in a way that does not involve further dominance. This has to be attempted, yet with great care and caution. Nurturing can be redefined as normal for boys, young men and men. It involves teaching boys gentleness and non-erotic forms of touch. However, there are problems with this scenario, for example, in terms of potential abuse. It is not enough to leave dominant forces to define boys and men, and then stress the need for positive initiatives to assist redefinition of boys and men towards care and nurture as central defining features (Salisbury and Jackson, 1994). Boys should be taught in schools how to care; caring should be expected, valued and rewarded. These are ways towards greater responsibility for gender equality.

Violence and crime: anti-anti-equalities?

Another clear area of responsibilty for men is to stop men’s violence. Violence almost always means denying equality and voice to someone else; violence is profoundly unequal and undemocratic. It is not possible to make a strict separation between men’s sexuality and men’s violence, in this kind of society at least. A lot of what men do needs to be re-labelled as violence. This would include child abuse, child sexual abuse, domestic violence, rioting, crime, policing, soldiering, wars, football hooliganism, public disorder. It might seem hard to talk about crime and violence without talking about men, and yet this has been done quite successfully for a long time. Crime and violence are very largely a problem for men, and they are also resources to show certain masculinities to others (Messerschmidt, 1993). Similarly, much violence needs to be understood as men’s conscious, deliberate actions and as forms of particular masculinities (Hearn, 1998). Men’s violence to women, children, young people, and each other needs, indeed demands, not just patching up the problem, but the changing of men and ‘normal masculinity’ (Hearn, 1990). Examples include what is seen as the ‘normal’ behaviour of certain men and boys, as fathers, teachers, workmates, school mates and so on, in reproducing ordinary, everyday violence to others and each other.

There is now a very large international literature, in the form of official records and statistics, social science and policy surveys, and victim/survivor report studies, that chronicles the extent and pervasiveness of men’s violence against women (Dobash and Dobash, 1992; Mullender, 1996). Edwards (1989, p. 214) notes: ‘The safest place for men is the home, the home is, by contrast, the least safe place for women.’ It has been estimated from recent British research that between ten and twenty-five percent of British women have been a victim of violence from a male partner (Smith, 1989; Mirrlees-Black, 1994; Mooney, 1994, cited in Dobash et al., 1996, p.2). For example, Mooney’s (1993, 1994) survey in Islington, London, found 27 percent of women reported physical abuse by a partner and 23 percent reported sexual abuse. Even such estimates should be treated with caution, as they may not take full account of rape, sexual harassment, coercive sex and pressurized sex, as well as emotional, psychological and other abuses. A recent British survey (Stanko et al., 1998) of women in Hackney, London, reported:

– More than one in two women had been in psychologically abusive relationships during their lives;
– One in four women had been in psychologically abusive relationships in the past year;
– One in three women had suffered physical and sexual abuse requiring medical attention in their lives; and
– One in nine women had suffered physical and sexual abuse requiring medical attention in the past year.

A recent national representative survey of 4,955 women in Finland (Heiskanen and Piispa, 1998) has reported the following results:

– ‘22 % of all married and cohabiting women have been victims of physical or sexual violence or threats of violence by their present partner, 9 % in the course of the past year.’
– ‘violence or threats by their ex-partner had been experienced by 50 % of all women who had lived in a relationship which had already terminated.’ (p. 3).

Men’s violence is about both violence to women, children and young people, and often less obviously, violence to the self – in self-brutalisation and the denial and ‘victory over’ the non-violent parts of ourselves (Kaufman, 1987). Violence may bring power and dominance, but it may also bring unhappiness and self-destruction. Men who are violent are generally not happy men (Maiuro et al., 1988), even if they ‘enjoy’ the violence. This suggests the need for men to both recognise men’s own violence and potential violence, whilst opposing and stopping men’s violence – in war, armies, initiation ceremonies, bullying, unsafe working conditions, personal relationships, and being on the street. Campaigns against such initiations, lack of safety in workplaces, bullying and violence at work are all ways of bringing together men concerned to work against sexism, trade unions, and anti-racist and other groups. These are necessary concerns of equal opportunities policies, management responsibilities and occupational health.

In reducing and opposing men’s violence, a necessary, responsible thing to do is to make national commitment against violence, as a central plank of governmental and political party policies. The Gulbenkian Foundation Commission Report (1995), Children and Violence, made as its first priority recommendation: ‘Individuals, communities and government all levels should adopt a ‘Commitment to non-violence’, of similar standing, to existing commitments to ‘equal opportunities’. It continued: ‘The aims of the commitment are to work towards a society in which individuals, communities and government share non-violent values and resolve conflict by non-violent means. Building such a society involves reducing and preventing violence involving children, by developing:

– understanding of the factors which interact to increase the potential for violence involving children, and those which prevent children from becoming violent
– action to prevent violence involving children in all services and work with families and children
– consistent disavowal of all forms of inter-personal violence – in particular by opinion-leaders’ (p. 18).

Governmental and other policies and strategies should take a clear position that opposes violence, tell boys and men not to be violent, advocate policies that encourage men to behave in ways that facilitate women’s equality, and make it clear that the realisation of such changes depends partly on men in politics and policy-making, and their own gendered actions.

There is increasing interest in policies that try to stop men’s violence directly, such as programmes for men who have been violent to known women (Pence and Paymar, 1986; Adams, 1988; Caesar and Hamberger, 1989; Edelson and Tolman, 1992; Lees and Lloyd, 1994). Such programmes remain controversial in terms of underlying philosophy, methods of change and resource basis. In recent years there has been a critique of narrowly psychological or anger management approaches, and a movement towards those based on ‘power and control’ models and are profeminist in orientation. The latter programmes can be a significant and effective initiatives, especially when linked to wider educational change and court-mandate rather than voluntary access (Dobash et al., 1996). Such development need to carefully screen out men who have no interest in change and may even use programmes to learn new forms of violence and control. Innovations for men have to be supplements to broad major public policy changes, including consistent police prosecution policy and practice; inter-agency work for women experiencing violence; improved housing provision for women; and full state support for independent women’s refuges and other women’s projects.

1. Educating men on what violence is. A basic educational task is for men to understand more fully what men’s violence to women is. Many men have a very limited definition of violence. Men do not have to use physical violence in order to be experienced as violent. Boys, young men and men, including those working in agencies, have to understand broader definitions of violence in order to work against violence. This is important in schools, youth work and general agency work.

2. Dealing with the problem as the responsibility of the statutory sector.

3. Producing clear, general policy statements.

4. Developing public campaigns.

5. Changing the conditions that produce and sustain men’s violence.

6. Addressing other oppressions.

7. Developing appropriate and detailed policy and practice.

8. Monitoring, maintaining and improving policy and practice.

9. Working against violence with men in contact in a focused way.

10. Placing power, control and responsibility centrally in focused work with men.

11. Developing interagency work with men.

12. Making men, men’s power and men’s violence explicit in (inter)agency work.

13. Addressing the need to change men in agencies.

14. Dealing with ambiguous issues of men’s support for men.

15. Reaching out to men not in contact with agencies.

Educating and changing men against violence to women is one necessary element in reducing that violence that needs to be developed alongside political, policy and practical initiatives for women. In focussing on education, I do not suggest that education alone can solve the problem. Rather education is an aspect, albeit an important one, of reducing men’s violence to women. Education is also a way of developing a policy perspective that cuts across several significant divisions:

– family / state; prevention / intervention; men who are violent / men who are not violent; criminal justice system / non-criminal justice system; schooling / non-schooling; boys / men; perpetrators / professionals.

Education is about the production of changing and changed consciousness amongst men in relation to violence, whereby non-violence and anti-violence are valued and valuable, rather than demeaned and non-valued. It is about developing understandings of what violence is; understandings of why violence occurs; understandings of the severely gendered nature of violence; and ways of working against violence. These apply in both particular agency contexts and in all social situtaions.

Some of the major arenas in which men, and boys, may be educated to act against men’s violence to women are:

– self-education and the education of the self; changing patriarchal practices and the education within families; men in groups; men’s programmes; agency policy development, in criminal justice, health, social services and other agencies; schools and educational institutions; campaigns and public politics.

Discussion of violence would be incomplete without mention of sport, itself often a major public arena of legitimated, sometimes severe violence. Sport is a major influence in creating and changing boys, young men, and men. It can also be a source of considerable anxiety since it is still often a pre-eminent activity for establishing masculine identity; ‘retirement’ from sport can bring further difficulties for men and others around them. Sporting events and loyalties could be effective places to oppose men’s violence, perhaps through a modified version of the Zero Tolerance campaigns, as they have been to counter racism in professional football (‘Kick Racism Out Of Football’ campaign). Sport is a huge area for highlighting men’s responsibilities.

Reaching Out: Sexuality, Health and the Reconciliation of Home and Work

Reaching out concerns how to make contact with men around all the issues and arenas discussed. It also entails working on and against sexism, working with sympathetic colleagues against sexism, and working on sexism with men who are themselves in favour of sexism. Reaching out involves both tring to bring positive thinking on gender equality to the attention of men who would othwerwise not be interested or might even be hostile; it also has a second meaning in terms of trying to reach out in a way that meets some of such men’s concerns and experiences. This is the language of offering assistance to men. It links closely to such questions as: Why should men bother? What is in it for men? If men are like to lose materially from gender equality, in terms of less positions of power, the abolition of the wage gap, less power in families, why should men be interested at all in gender equality. In one sense the answer to this question is that they should not be, because it is not in their general material interests. But that answer is not satisfactory for several reasons. First, although men benefit from living in a patriarchal society, it is difficult to identify clearly men’s general interest. There are many different kinds of men and boys, and even one man or boy can have different, sometimes contradictory positions and interests. Second, there are some men who are discriminated against, often on other grounds, such as class or ethnicity, but also on grounds directly linked to gender. These latter grounds include sexuality, gender assignment and identification, and association with chararcteristics or activities that are constructed as linked to women. These may, though not necessarily, include such wide ranging associations as ’effeminacy’, gayness, transgenderism, doing ’women’s work’, researching gender, or being profeminist. Third, though material advantage is likely to be reduced or lost through greater gender equality, there is one area where men have material advantage to gain: men’s health. Fourth, even if men are likely to lose materially in certain respects, there is much to be gained socially, psychologically, emotionally, in terms of a quality of life. This is very relevant to the reconciliation of home and work. Fifth, though men gain materially from patriarchal society, certain boys and men suffer, through hierarchies between men, between men and boys, and between boys, and through danger and violence to men. A clear example is the violence that can occur in making boys into men, and to certain groups of men sent to war. In the extreme case, gender equality may reduce the chances of nuclear warfare or accident. Here I focus on 3 areas: sexuality, health and home-work reconcilation.

Sexuality: sexual equalities?

Sexuality is a prime area to reach out to men, especially young men. It is also one of the most taken-for-granted site and arena of men’s power. Sexuality is constructed dominantly in terms of biology, as in the ‘male sexual drive’ discourse (Hollway, 1984). Developing gender equality in relation to sexualities involves: equality between different sexualities; equality against unequal and anti-democractic sexualities that involve force and violence; gender equality within sexual relationships and in sexual practices. Men might thus be encouraged to move to more egalitarian sexualities. Gendered sexual equality entails action against the denial of sexual voices unless they coerce others, as in sex trafficking. Many men can be reached out to by opposing coercive sexualities, as in sex trafficking.

Men’s sexuality has often been neglected as a focus for changing men’s power, except as a reaction to the initiatives of the Right. Dominant forms of ‘normal male sexuality’ – characterised as power, aggression, penis-orientation, separation of sex from loving emotion, objectification, fetishism, and supposed ‘uncontrollability’ (Coveney at al., 1984) – have been described and critiqued as highly problematic. For some, perhaps most, men, the connection of sexuality and violence is fundamental, as violence is eroticised, most obviously in pornography. This is not the way men’s sexuality is or has to be all the time. It may feel to be that which is the most personal, the most ‘one’s own’ (MacKinnon, 1982); yet it is also structural. Heterosexuality is as much a social institution as is marriage. Heterosexist culture and homophobia continue to abound. Men’s domination of sex and sexuality, and the reduction of sex to intercourse, to ejaculation, to orgasm are still represented as “just normal, aren’t they?” Heterosexual men may often be misogynist: the object of love can be the object of hate. Homophobic men may inhabit homosocial pubs, clubs, organisations and workgroups – so what exactly are these sexual loyalties between men?

The pressures on the construction of men’s sexuality seem to be diverging more and more – the forces of reaction, the glorification of sexual violence, Internet sex, anti-gay politics (most obviously around HIV/AIDS) are ever stronger. At the same time there is a gathering public confidence around sexual progressivism, lesbian, gay and transgender rights and even a small anti-sexist politics of heterosexuality. Furthermore, anti-gay politics can damage both gay men and heterosexual men. They can be physically dangerous and personally undermining for gay men. Heterosexual men may come out or change to being gay; less obviously to some, there is the gay part or gayness of heterosexual men. Heterosexual men need to support gay men, partly for political principles of equality and justice, partly for self-interest.

There is a need to develop educational debate and practice around sex and sexuality, not least around what is understood by sex and sexuality, and practices of safe(r) sex. This has to affirm different sexualities, work towards non-oppressive sexualities, support young gays, and engage with the real dilemmas that young people face in their everyday lives. For young men, this means promoting, in schools and elsewhere, intimate and sexual relationships that are non-threatening, non-oppressive and responsible (Salisbury and Jackson, 1996). Men need to positively change their sexuality, individually and collectively. Men’s and boys’ sexuality is as much a matter for public debate and policy development as violence. There is urgent need for law reform to abolish discriminatory legislation against young gays, same-sex sexuality, and older gays (around pensions, tenure and property rights etc.). A major challenge for gender equality is to acknowledge our sexuality, even be proud of it, without being oppressively sexual or sexually oppressive. What chance is there for real change in men and in gender equality without that? This is an opportunity to reach out to men.


If there is one policy arena concerning men that has attracted attention from a wide range of constituencies and interests in recent years, it is that of men’s health. Men suffer and die more and at a younger age from cardiovascular diseases, cancer, respiratory diseases, accidents and violence than women. Socio-economic factors, qualifications, social status, life style, diet, smoking, drinking, drug abuse, hereditary factors, as well as occupational hazard, seem to be especially important for morbidity and mortality. Gender differences in health arise from how certain work done by men are hazardous occupations. Generally men neglect their health and for some men at least their ‘masculinity’ is characterised by risk taking, especially for younger men (in terms of smoking, alcohol and drug taking, unsafe sexual practices, road accidents, lack of awareness of risk), an ignorance of their bodies, and reluctance to seek medical intervention for suspected health problems. Thus ’traditional masculinity’ can be seen as hazardous to health (Hearn et al., 2000, 2001).

The concern for men’s health has been mobilised as if it is a common, cross-generational concern – perhaps a kind of mythical consensus. ‘Men’s health’ can be represented as an issue for all men, and indeed women too. For different reasons, the question of men’s health has attracted involvement from governments, employers, trade unions, pharmaceutical and medical industries, medical professionals, and health educators and activists. Significantly, in the last few years there have been a number of conferences bringing together such diverse groups; in some cases these have been high status occasions with sponsorship from the financial and industrial sectors. These concerns with men’s health, mortality and suicide of young men are attracting attention in many countries, in Europe (Jougla, 1994). The concern with men’s health can be appealing both to men promoting a backlash against feminism and who are insistent on the disadvantages of being male and to men who wish to develop a profeminist politics and change their relationship to women and children (for example, HFA 2000 News, 1994; Bruckenwell et al, 1995; Bradford, 1995; also see Sabo and Gordon, 1995). Discussions of men’s health should not be read as necessarily antagonistic to those on women’s health.

The central issue that has attracted concern is the fact that at every stage of the life of a boy or man, he is more likely to die than a girl or woman of equivalent age. At different stages different hazards affect boys and men, and different risks are taken by them – accidents as a child, suicide and motor vehicles as young men, and the effects of diet, smoking, drinking and sexual habits later in life. For example, in the 15-34 year old male age group, 21 per cent of deaths are from road vehicle accidents, 20 per cent are from other causes of injury and poisoning, and 17 per cent are from suicides (OPCS, 1992, quoted in Calman, 1993, p212). Life expectancy for those born between 1985 and 1990 is 78.1 years for women, and 72.4 years for men. The EU difference is slightly higher still at 7.1 years (OHE Compendium of Health Statistics, 1992). One part of this discrepancy comes from men’s higher level of suicide, which stands at more than three times the rate of women’s suicide. Particular concern has been the increase in the suicide of young men (Charlton et al, 1993; Befrienders International, 1995). In Ireland the ratio of young men’s to young women’s suicide is 7:1. The Samaritans have reported an 80% increase in male suicide in the last 10 years (Cohen, 1996). The physical health debate has been extended into the realm of mental health. The Royal College of Psychiatrists’ (1996) report publicised the question of men’s depression, and the lack of recognition of this problem both amongst men, as evidenced in low levels of help-seeking (Moore, 1996).

Despite these kinds of observations, the policy debate on men’s health has not dwelt extensively on the social divisions between men, by class, race, locality, sexuality and so on. These divisions are important, for the state of men’s health is subject to a range of social influences – some associated with power and control, and some with attempts to extend (or appear to extend) power and control by those with relatively less power and control but who are still members of a powerful social category.

Many men in relatively less powerful social positions may survive, attempt to survive or fail to survive by, for example, depression, social withdrawal, drinking. Yet active assertions of power, especially over women and children, and passive resistance can go hand in hand. Uncertainties remain on how some men may actively resist capitalist, managerial and other men’s oppressions without perpetuating practices that oppress women: how to be tough on men who are oppressive to women and men, without at the same time oppressing women. Improving men’s health involves developing policies and practices that support men without further oppressing women. Boys and men frequently learning that it is socially desirable to ignore pain and avoid doctors (Briscoe, 1989); this needs to be demystified and unlearnt. Men have much to gain from gender equality on health.

Home-work reconciliation

Men’s work and (un)employment interacts closely with domestic and family life. Recent transformations of work, through major structural change in (un)employment, have been very significant for men in many European countries. In the UK in 1973-1993 the number of men in employment shrank from 13.1 million to 10.7 million (HMSO, 1993). The shift in the sectoral makeup was even more dramatic: changing from 39.7% to 27.9% in manufacturing; from 12.4% to 17.9% in retail, wholesale, consumption, catering and leisure; and from 5.4% to 11.9% in finance, insurance, estate agency and business services. Women’s employment is changing with more women, especially young women, joining the labour market. Structural changes mean that many men have experienced personal change in their working lives. Lifelong security of employment is not guaranteed, not even for the relatively successful and well qualified; traditional working class-based masculinities, most obviously around heavy manufacturing and mining, can no longer be easily sustained unchallenged; corporate reorganisation is commonplace; post-Fordist flexibility demands flexibility of men. For many men, especially young, less qualified men, there is a prospect of unemployment. This is an urgent problem in certain localities and for some young and minority ethnic men. When men are unemployed or inappropriately employed, extra problems may follow for men, such as around health, and for women too.

Men’s work and (un)employment interacts closely with domestic and family life. Despite and perhaps because of these transformations in men’s work, men who are in employment tend to work long hours. Unemployment of some men and work overload of other men is a common theme in many countries. While overall employed working time has decreased since the end of the last century, in some jobs and sectors, the (gendered) phenomenon of presentism is a serious problem, and difficult to resist for men whose jobs remain insecure. The interaction of time-use and organisational position is a vital area of ambivalence for at least some men business managers. There is urgent need for employers to facilitate ways and means for men to reconcile work and domestic/family/personal life in a much more positive way. This includes attention to job-sharing, voluntary reduced work time, flexible working hours, term time working, working from home, and other approaches (New Ways to Work, 1993, 1995; Cooper and Lewis 1998; Cooper, 2000). These interconnections have complex and equally important implications for men and women. Norwegian research suggests men’s paternity leave is lower for senior managers, men in private sector organisations, and men with high overtime use (Brandth and Kvande, 2000, pp. 6-7). Greater participation in such leave and childcare may lead some men to take more leave in the future (Brandth and Kvande, 1999), and may be part of more egalitarian relationships with partners.

Governments and managements need to develop flexible working, family-friendly and dependant-leave policies. Clearly the baseline daycare and similar support that exists through the state varies greatly between European countries. Some companies are now providing considerable direct support to women and men managers for what are usually domestic labour, not only for childcare but also for cooking, cleaning, washing and so on. This is a way of transfering domestic labour from the personal responsibility in the family to (usually) other women not in the family – a modernised and clearly gendered form of corporate domestic service. While the broad provision of ‘family-friendly’ and related policies on caring for dependants is to be welcomed, there are potential problems in managers and employers taking too active a stance in the organisation and management of the ‘family’ lives of individual staff and managers. Without sympathetic implementation this can become an extension of managerial, often patriarchal, surveillance into the domestic and sexual lives of organisational members. Gender equality policies and practices, that do not depend on corporate status and employers’ decision, can widen such support for home-work reconciliation.

Rethinking Gender Equality: Issues for the Future

At the beginning of this talk I said that in my view gender equality is not a fixed thing; it is more like an ongoing and long-term process; it needs to be constantly rethought, at this point in relation to the place of men. This entails involving men in policy-making, in organisations, in everyday life, in families, and so on. But it also entails doing so in the context of men’s structural and often personal power, and indeed dominance and violence too. This is not a level playing field.

Moreover this process, this long-term process, involves changing men. As noted gender equality, as it is often understood, does not necessarily problematise men. We must now develop not just equality between two given genders with given ‘characteristics and roles’, but rather consider substantial change in what has historically been and still the dominant gender: men. Indeed without that, it is difficult to see how gender equality can be achieved. Gender and gender equality need to be critically deconstructed not reified as either natural or one-dimensional. This involves a complex and variegated process of engaging with the resistance of many men to different forms of involvement in gender equality, the responsibilities of men in the promotion of gender equality, and reaching out to other men who are less interested.

Men need to become much more involved in gender equality, but on what terms? Certainly, not the terms of a new takeover. Men need to be ready to learn, to listen, to be educated, to be humble, and to find out about gender equality from those who have expertise in this field. This may be a difficult position for many men to take. We have the responsibility to assist this in the education of boys in schools and elsewhere.

Crucially important though matters of home-work reconciliation and other policy areas are, this process cannot be reduced to a simple list of policies. It involves a sea-change, a redefinition of that gender, men, that has been dominant and that has often resisted not just gender equality, but gender debate at all. Thus the involvement of men in gender equality developments has to be both welcomed and encouraged, and treated with caution; it is sensible to carefully monitor this process, to avoid creating a new power base for men. There is no point in having, say, men’s gender equality committees if they simply put forward demands from ’the male perspective’ that increase inequalities in relation to women.

How does change occur? It occurs slowly and occasionally suddenly. It is sometimes suggested that men like technology and gadgets. If one takes the example of my own ICT use and how that has changed, I find some slow and sudden phases of change. My first encounter with computers was in 1969; in 1972 I was messing with those huge stacks of huge cards that were in use the ; I did not regularly use ICT until 1995. By then it had become easy, normal, ordinary; I had also realised the possibilities that were open through ICTs. It involved an act of imagination, or thinking differently.

Gender equality is unlikely to be easy, but it can become normal and ordinary, as it should be – in public policy making and implementation, at home, and at work. It involves men thinking and acting differently. This might be called dialogical or dialectical thinking and acting; it is not enough to act simply and directly from men’s own experience; there has to be an awareness of the context and that there are others in other positions. This involves an act of imagination.

All of these concerns necessitate and would be greatly aided by the development and implementation of national and EU prgrammes for changing men, that proactively promote new ways of being men that assist gender equality.

Finally, I turn to the position of men in relation to global and transnational gender equality in the context of globalisation (Connell, 1993, 1995, 1998; Hearn, 1996). This is one of the most important challenges. It is necessary to increasingly consider the changing global context for men’s lives and power. While for most men life remains local in the way it is lived, the forces that affect it are becoming more transnational. Organisations are becoming more important, through multi-nationals, transnational institutions, and worldwide media/information networks. Globalisation is developing ever more: economically, politically, culturally, technologically. This involves racialisation, sexualisation and the reproduction of massive inequalities between ‘North’ and ‘South’ and ‘cores’ and ‘peripheries’. Many grand narratives of the future – globalisation, environmental destruction, population growth, food and water scarcity, information explosion, reproductive engineering, technological advance – are presented as inevitable and strangely genderless, rather than largely controlled by relatively small groups of men: the real ’men of the world’ (Hearn, 1996), with their own ’transnational business masculinity’ (Connell, 1997, 1998). Some such narratives are clearly gendered, as in developments of reproductive technology and movements towards human cloning. Shifts from private patriarchy to public patriarchy (Walby, 1989, 1990; Hearn, 1992) are being superseded by shifts towards global patriarchy, a diffuse and multi-centred social formation (Hearn, 1996). Changing and challenging men’s power has to be placed within global contexts.

A fundamental feature of global processes is the growth of transnational/multinational managements and large organisations within and beyond nations. The GNP of some nation-states is exceeded by the assets of many supranational corporations (Bauman, 1995: 152). 500 companies now control 42% of the world’s wealth. ’The world’s 500 largest industrial corporations, which employ only five hundredths of 1% of the world’s population, control 25% of the world’s economic output. The top 300 transnationals, excluding financial institutions, own some 25% of the world’s productive assets. Of the world’s one hundred largest economies, fifty are now corporations – not including banking and financial institutions. The combined assets of the world’s fifty largest commercial banks and diversified financial companies amount to nearly 60% of The Economist’s estimate of a $20 trillion global stock of productive capital.’ (Korten, 1998: 4). Of the 100 largest economies, half are corporations, half are countries. The ten biggest companies turn over more money than the 100 smallest countries. The top ten companies account for 11.7% of the total revenues of the top 500, 15% of profits, and 13.6% of employment. Only 27 countries now have a turnover greater than Shell and Exxon combined; Shell, the second largest company in the world, owns more land than 146 countries (Vidal, 1997).

A huge challenge for global gender equality is the impact of cultural globalisation, specifically ICTs. International respectable magazines, youth magazines and pornography magazine ownership, production and markets becoming increasingly interlocked. Pornography is expanding through satellite and pay television, video and Internet. The US is the biggest producer and consumer of pornography. 90% of all material downloaded from the Internet is pornography (Mackay, 2000: 64-65). Most violent and sadistic pornography, and much child pornography, is produced by Western men in Third world. There are large expansions of pornography production and trafficking in women from Eastern Europe. Bulletin Board Services are widely used for child and other forms of pornography. Live videoconferencing is amongst the most advanced technology currently on the Web. This involves the buying of live sex shows, in which the man can direct the show in some cases (Hughes, 1999).

Meanwhile international resistances to gender inequalities develop in anti-militarism, organising against trafficking in women and children and other sexual violences, international trade unionism, organisation of homeworkers, fair trade movements, green campaigns, ethical consumerism, and so on. There is a growing amount of transnational and European broadly profeminist and pro-gender equality organising by men. It includes considering in critical but positive ways the place of men in development work. Men’s transnational profeminist and pro-gender equality organising would be better developed in relation to the profound, growing challenges of globalisation than as a way of re-finding their ‘lost’ ‘deep masculinity’ or a simple ‘male perspective’. Developing gender equality involves challenging men’s power and changing men; changing men involves deconstructing men; in the longer term this may involve the abolition of ’men’ as a ubiquitously important gender category. The personal and the global continue to go hand in hand. Patriarchy, though incredibly strong and flexible, is not without its strains, splits and divisions, which we need to work on in developing gender equality.

O texto original encontra-se aqui.

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