Men and masculinity under spotlight in Fiji
Men enjoy power, privilege and status at the expense of women, a fact that contributes to persistent and widespread gender-based violence.
Stephen Fisher, an Australian trainer on masculinities at the Chisholm Institute, Melbourne, was speaking at the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre’s (FWCC) Pacific Regional Meeting on Violence Against Women at the Naviti Resort on the Coral Coast in Fiji.
Fisher said the concept of masculinities was a major factor that reinforced male behaviour normalising demeaning and violent treatment of women.
Many men enjoy maintaining their dominance role in their personal relationships and in and this is expressed through their masculinity, Fisher said.
“For many men masculinity is an identity to be proven to others or defended from challenge,” Fisher said.
Objectification of women, treating them as goods by men, is also at the core of gender-based violence.
“Too often men treat women as objects to sexually conquer,” said Fisher.
Fisher challenged men to abrogate their desire for control and instead embrace “pro-feminist” in supporting women to eliminate gender-based violence.
Pro-feminism, he said, involves listening to women’s experiences and being informed by feminist analysis of issues that affect women.
The pro-feminist perspective also recognises that men as a group actually benefit from women’s domination. And even the gentlest of men enjoy privileges that stem from women’s oppression.
Another important aspect of pro-feminism, Fisher said, is being “gay-affirmative” and rejecting discrimination homosexuals, as gay-hating is very close to woman-hating.
“Some men fear homosexuality because it implies the possibility of vulnerability and intimacy between men, which challenges the competitive code and results in superficiality between men,” said Fisher.
“Many men may experience the traumatic psychological challenge of feeling attraction to other men and believe such feelings must be denied,” Fisher says. Being gay is often “hated” as it is perceived as being “feminine”.
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