The Turn to Men in Gender Politics

There has recently been a ‘turn to men’ in gender politics, an increasing emphasis on the roles that men can play in building gender equality. The turn to men has two overlapping dimensions. One is a shift in cultural and community discourse regarding feminism and gender. Another is the emergence of the ‘engaging men’ field – the field of programming and policy focused on involving men in building gender equality. What does this turn to men signal for feminist efforts to make progress towards gender equality?
The notion that men have a role to play in ending gender inequalities, in ending sexist oppression and patriarchal injustices, is not a new one. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, small groups of men organized in support of women’s suffrage and equality. In the 1970s, with the emergence of the second wave of feminism, anti-sexist men’s groups formed in most Western countries. Early radical feminists called for men to take responsibility for ending patriarchy. For example, Andrea Dworkin in 1983 called for ‘a twenty-four-hour truce during which there is no rape’ (Dworkin, 1993, p. 21) at a men’s anti-sexist conference in the United States. Similarly, bell hooks, the famous African American feminist, argued in 1984 that men were ‘comrades in struggle’ (hooks, 1984, p. 67)

About Michael Flood

Researcher on men, masculinities, gender, and violence prevention. Educator & activist

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