Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Excluding women 6/9

Although there is a place for men organising separately against men’s violence and all male groups can be sites of progressive personal and social change, such all-male groups need to be transparent and responsive to feminist concerns. When I first began running workshops with men and invited women as observers, I was criticised by many men in the violence prevention sector who argued that men needed a space without the presence of women to speak authentically about their experience. This view has been more widely noted in the literature (Murphy 2009). Piccigallo et al. (2012), for example, talk about the importance of men being comfortable with each other and being able to talk openly without the presence of women.
Marchese (2008) documents accounts of men’s anti-violence groups who exclude women from being involved in their activities. However, as Murphy (2009) asks, why should all-male groups be required for men to have honest conversations? Given what we know about all-male groups producing male peer endorsement of men’s violence (DeKeseredy and Schwartz 2013), men only groups seem more likely to reproduce dominant forms of masculinity than challenge them.  If men meet in all male groups in addressing violence against women, how can they be accountable to women when the exclusion of women reinforces the notion of male authority? Stoltenberg (cited in Marchese 2008) argues that if men feel uncomfortable speaking about their experience in the presence of women, then this in itself emphasises the importance of why they need to learn how to communicate outside of traditional frames of masculinity and male sociality.

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