Improving Masculinity by Appealing to Men’s Self-interest

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Hello everyone, my name is Joseph Gelfer and I’m here to give you a super short introduction to improving masculinity by appealing to men’s self-interest.

One of the great challenges of engaging men in the subject of gender is convincing them that it actually has something to do with them. For example, when most men here the word “gender” they tend to think it has something to do with women. Indeed, famous examples of “engaging men” actually have little to do with men, rather promoting men’s support of women, such as the HeForShe campaign.

Of course, supporting women is important, but you can’t really expect men to get super-excited about it. Further still, it has a habit of perpetuating traditional ideas about masculinity such as a paternalistic attitude towards women. If you really want to engage men in the subject of gender you have to appeal first to their self-interest.

For example, it is firstly in men’s interest to discuss violence as they suffer so much of it. Once you have sensitized men to the general issue of violence it is an easier task to talk about violence against women.

In the same way, it is firstly in men’s interest to discuss diversity and equality in the workplace, as there are various reasons why a man might be discriminated against: he might be black, gay, disabled, short, overweight or have a strong regional accent. Once you have sensitized men to the general issue of discrimination it is an easier task to talk about discrimination against women. I’m sure you can imagine other examples of such a strategy.

Note, we are not erasing women’s issues here. We are re-framing those issues in a way that enables men to hear them. Ultimately, we are not talking about “women’s issues” or “men’s issues,” rather “everybody issues” that happen to be experienced by different groups of people in different ways.

This offers the opportunity for everyone to be listened to, and to genuinely demonstrate that improving the experiences of men or women does not come at the expense of the other. It shows that gender is not a zero sum game.

Further information: http://www.masculinityresearch.com/

Read by Joseph Gelfer (song by Adam Vitovsky)

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