Learn: How can men make change?
These resources have been put together to support men to better understand the issue of men’s violence against women, and what they can do about it. It is important for men to start this journey with education and self-reflection about gender norms in our society, what masculinity means to them, and how this impacts the ways they relate to people around them in their everyday lives. While this guide is aimed at men, the resources here will be useful for anybody wanting to reflect on themselves and better understand the ways that gender inequality unevenly distributes power to people across society, how this drives violence against women and what we can do to help prevent it.
Please remember this is a starting point, where we encourage you to extend yourself and lean into books, theories or ideas that might not come easy at first, but will be fruitful if you stick with them. Journaling and reflecting on everything you engage with during this journey can be a helpful way to embed and embody your new learnings. We encourage you to develop this practice – simply on your computer, in a journal or on your phone, to track your journey.
Before we can fully understand ourselves and the issue of violence against women, it is important to get a handle on the terms sex, gender and sexuality, so that we understand the difference as they apply to ourselves and others.
Understanding how different people are afforded social power or privilege in regard to their identity is a useful next step.
Understanding gendered violence
Now that we have a general understanding of the ways gender and social privilege operate in society, we can begin to take a deeper dive into how this interacts with men’s use of violence towards women.
Free Family and Domestic Violence eLearning program (6 modules, 3h to complete)
By: White Ribbon Australia
Violence Against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women
By: Ms Karla McGrady, Senior Policy Advisor from Our Watch
Power is central to all forms of interpersonal family violence and all systems of domination (racism, colonisation, sexism, homophobia etc.). Reflecting on patterns and dynamics of violence in broader social structures and how they impact our daily lives will continue to build our knowledge and awareness of opportunities for change. As the prolific Australian academic, Indigenous feminist, author and activist Aileen Moreton-Robinson said, “Think about giving up power, then start doing it”.
Patriarchy is a vitally important concept for everybody to understand. While we acknowledge how it largely privileges and benefits men over women, bell hooks has beautifully articulated how patriarchy is also one of the central drivers to poor social and life outcomes for men. Dismantling patriarchal thinking and practices should be central to everybody, regardless of our gender.
Unlearning our old patriarchal ways of doing masculinity is an important part of creating space for people to start practising more healthy versions of masculinities. Exploring some of these texts is a great way to start this journey.
Men in focus - Unpacking masculinities and engaging men in the prevention of violence against women
By: Our Watch
Accountability and being an ally
In our quest to end all forms of violence and domination, including men’s use of violence towards women, we need to remember this is a lifelong journey, one that you will make mistakes upon, and so reflecting on how we might learn from these mistakes, making better choices and supporting the people you impact is essential.
Support for men
If you have become concerned about any of your past or current behaviours through this learning process, please know there are open, caring and supportive services out there to support men in reflecting, learning, and making better choices in the future.
Question to prompt self-reflection
- Apart from your physical body, how do you understand and know your gender? How do you express your gender in your everyday life?
- How do you share your feelings and emotions with those that are important in your life? Are some feelings or emotions easier than others to express? If so, what emotions and why do you think this is? How do you think gender stereotypes or the context you were brought up in has impacted your ability to express yourself?
- When you find yourself in conflict or disagreement, how do you manage and hold yourself? Where/when did you learn this? Do you shut down and become oppositional or have space to unpack and discuss to find equitable agreements? When in conflict or disagreement, what bodily emotions arise for you, and where/how do you feel or experience them?
- What does “getting consent” mean for you? How do you know what you are seeking consent for? Who taught you how to ask for consent? Can you think of a range of ways in everyday life where we might practice consent? (Ie: Getting peoples input before planning group activities or asking people if we can share their information)
- What are your personal values and ethics that you align with? How do you practice these in your everyday actions and behaviours? When you act in a way that doesn’t align with these values and ethics, what story do you tell yourself about this? How do you practice accountability in these situations?
Please remember throughout this learning journey; it is not about men having to be perfect, but rather to work towards having a deeper understanding of themselves, how gender and power work in the world, and how they can develop daily practices of creating positive change. Additionally, this movement isn’t about “being a good guy”, as separate from the “violent men”, but rather understanding the ways that patriarchy benefits and privileges all men, meaning we all have work to do individually and collectively to create change in the everyday occurrences of sexism.