EXPERT GROUP MEETING
MALE ROLES AND MASCULINITIES IN THE PERSPECTIVE OF
A CULTURE OF PEACE
IV - ABSTRACTS OF PRESENTED PAPERS
ARMS AND THE MAN
- There is overwhelming evidence that men are the main agents of violence in the modern
world; and in most societies violence is culturally masculinized. New social research on
masculinity is relevant to understanding this link. Masculinities exist only in structures
of gender relations. These structures generate multiple forms of masculinitiy, including
- However, hierarchies among men tend to subordinate the less aggressive. Masculinities
are embodied in institutions, culture and in personal life. Masculinities are dynamic and
constantly changing. This gives reasons for hope, for more peaceable gender practice,
though there is a risk of the emergence of more violent masculinities. New forms of
masculinity are emerging, most importantly a transnational business masculinity. Also
several forms of masculinity politics occur, with conflicting agendas.
- Educational strategies for peace must operate across a broad terrain; and must be
respectful of men while demanding substantial change of them. Men are not required to
uniformly adopt a new character. Rather, effective strategies will support shifts towards
a more democratic gender practice in a great diversity of situations. Useful models for
such strategies already exist, and it is important to draw upon them.
Gioia Di Cristofaro Longo
THE NEW MALE IDENTITY BETWEEN CRISIS AND NEW REDEFINITION. TOWARDS EQUIVALENCE OF THE TWO
- The process of redefinition of female and male identities has been asymmetric: while for
women it has progressed, for men it is just beginning. However, a historical process has
begun which may lead to the redefinition of male identity towards a new cultural gender
balance and new types of gender relations which is fundamental in the perspective of
conflict resolution and a culture of peace.
- The first step towards a culture of peace is overcoming discrimination and injustice
against women and the creation of identity based on gender equality and values usually
associated with feminine identity. Women have rediscovered maternity as a distinct but not
excluding experience of their own gender, as an important "part", but not the
only one, on which is based their identity as persons of female gender. It is the author's
opinion that men should start thinking about reproduction as an experience which today can
and must involve them more directly.
- Today there is increased awareness in men that they have lost an important part of their
human experience: the private and emotional sphere. It is important to bear in mind that
this is a process in which men need to discover/rediscover the essential terms of
masculinity defeating the cultural conditioning which originates stereotypes.
DETERMINANTS OF CULTURE: MEN AND ECONOMIC POWER
- To develop a culture of peace, the underlying conditions which would favour such a
development must first be established. As a culture of peace is mainly a result of
interaction between human beings, and since the concept of peace to a large extent
connotes egalitarian relationships, equality between men and women is a crucial condition.
Inequality is a form of structural violence.
- The paper discusses the relationship between gender inequality and violence or
conversely between gender equality and non-violence. Furthermore, it stresses gender
equality, which should be measured primarily by the level of economic parity. Recent
statistics show clearly the imbalance in economic power between men and women, despite
significant progress of women in education and increased participation in the labour
force. A major transformation at the economic level between men and women would contribute
to the construction of a culture of peace.
Øystein Gullvåg Holter
GENDERING PEACE: ON WAR/PEACE MASCULINITIES AND PATRIARCHAL ORDERS
- In order to promote positive changes among men, masculinities must be interpreted in
their social and cultural contexts, distinguishing between the differentiation and
stratification aspects of the gender system.
- The paper discusses inegalitarian or patriarchal social patterns that are reflected in
this system and that have contributed to men's dominance, aggression and violence.
- The author argues that inegalitarian patterns must be identified in order to create room
for change, a broad movement also among men themselves, towards a culture of peace.
WORKING WITH MEN AND BOYS TO CHALLENGE SEXISM AND END MEN'S VIOLENCE
- Men's violence is rooted, not in biology, but in the imperatives of a patriarchal
society. It can be seen at all levels of relations among men (from relations between
nations to the sports field), between men and women, between adults and children, within
economic structures, and in relation to the natural environment - a relationship which has
been aptly described as rape. This violence is unconsciously internalized by men in
dominant definitions of masculinity, even by that majority of men who never act violently.
- Social structures of unequal power (including the traditional privileges men have
enjoyed), combined with the self-imposed demands of manhood, is the landscape that shapes
men's violence in its myriad forms. The struggle to end men's violence and to develop a
culture of peace requires an articulated response. We must challenge the ways that
patriarchal violence extends throughout the fabric of society and human interactions.
- The paper starts with this framework and examines two case studies of work with boys and
men to end violence against women and interpersonal violence among men. These involve
working with boys within the school system and the work of the White Ribbon Campaign, now
the largest effort in the world to end violence against women.
MALE ROLES AND THE MAKING OF THE SOMALI TRAGEDY
- The paper explores the link between the male-dominated culture that pervades Somali
society and politics and the protracted conflict and violence that have devastated
Somalia. It outlines the foundations of Somali culture, with a view to underline the
dominant position that men occupy in Somali society and how that dominance manifests
itself and in what domain. The paper asserts that the Somali culture, which is based on
three traditions: the clan system, Islam and Western influence, is unequivocally and
unashamedly masculine. It marginalizes and at times excludes women in all aspects of
public life: social, economic and political.
- The paper also asserts that the Somali culture embodies a culture of peace which can be
tapped to inspire and underpin the process towards a culture of peace. The Somali women
symbolise the dormant culture of peace that exists within the Somali culture. The paper
concludes with the suggestion that efforts aimed at assisting the Somali society in
building a broader culture of peace should start with the Somalis and within the Somali
REDUCING MEN'S VIOLENCE: THE PERSONAL MEETS THE POLITICAL
- The paper explores the links between micro and macro institutional levels of the origin
of men's violence; drawing on examples of ethnic nationalist movements and domestic
violence. The author suggests that the origin of violence lies not in men's experience of
power (an expression of dominance and power as manifest), but rather in men's dual
experience of feelings of powerlessness and their sense of their entitlement to power.
Such an analysis leads to the identification of which men are most likely to join ethnic
nationalist movements (younger lower middle class) and to commit acts of violence against
women (those who feel their domestic entitlement dissolving).
- The author then turns to a discussion of those cultures in which men's violence, micro +
macro, is exceptionally low. What emerged from cross-cultural research is that violence is
lowest under specific cultural configurations of male-female relationships, high levels of
women's autonomy with specific definitions of masculinity, which includes high levels of
male participation in child care prevail.
"OUR BEST BOYS" - THE MAKING OF MASCULINITY IN ISRAELI SOCIETY
- Using Israel as a case study, the findings support the suggestion that societies
challenged by an environmental threat such as frequent warfare tend to be dominated by men
and to develop a masculine oriented legitimating ethos.
- The military in Israel is the main agent of society shaping gender roles, constructing
masculinity as a military masculinity, and is thus the main source of maintaining gender
inequality. The zionist ethos of masculine ideals of physical force and strength as a
reaction to the long history of persecution of the Jewish people, intensified because of
the Shoah, is engraved in Jewish Israeli society. Signs of weakness are regarded as
threats to the male identity. The political situation in the Jewish-Arab conflict
intensified this process.
- In societies in a state of conflict and war, demands for unity are the main reason to
drop the question of gender equality off the agenda. The high participation of women in
the peace movement can be explained by the connection between armed conflict and
militarization of society and gender inequality.
- According to the author, demilitarisation of society must be the main goal. As the
siege-mentality is leading to militarisation and thus to a hegemonic masculinity,
dismantling the siege-mentality would therefore be an aim. Transformation of society from
siege-mentality to universal principles; from military logic to civil logic; and from
fighter masculinity to a multidimensional masculinity.
TRAINING FOR PEACE KEEPING OPERATIONS: HOW THE ROLE OF FEMALE AND CHILDREN ARE REFLECTED
- The presentation focused on how gender issues are reflected in different phases of the
training of the Swedish armed forces:
Step 1: Basic training of officers
Basic training of soldiers
Step 2: Preparatory training of officers for United Nations/International services
Step 3: During final training and final exercise, experts from outside are used.
The results of the exercise are evaluated by the participating experts.
Reference was also made to a report from Save the Children, Sweden, who were involved as
- For the military observers and the United Nations civil police, special attention is
given to the fact that they live with the local population.
- The presenter concluded that:
- Training is the first step to progress within this special area and that it is
fruitful to bring in outside experts.
- United Nations Code of Conduct for Peace - keepers is very valuable to address gender
issues in a coherent manner.
SOUTH AFRICAN MEN IN THE POST-APARTHEID ERA: RESPONSES, DANGERS AND OPPORTUNITIES
- The impression one gets, at least from government media release, is that post-Apartheid
South Africa is, in terms of gender, one of the most progressive countries in the world.
While there is some substance to this claim, the reality is somewhat different. Despite
having a new constitution which statutorily prohibits discrimination on the grounds of
gender and sexual orientation, there are high rates of violent crime and sexual harassment
within the country and male power remains entrenched.
- The paper examines the impact on men of policies designed to facilitate women's
advancement. It argues that changes in patriarchy are occurring but that these are being
contested. Within the government, different versions of a desired masculinity are
advanced, and amongst the population there are widely varying responses to the changed
social, political and economic conditions. Masculinities for peace are emerging and can be
found in widely differing forms and places: in the role model of Nobel peace prize winner,
Nelson Mandela, and amongst reformed, ex-girlfriend-beating township youth. The most
beneficial effects on masculinity and hence long-term results for peace are likely to
accrue from a number of different initiatives and not from one, rigid model of masculinity
or state prescription of men's roles.
THE FIELDS OF GENDER EXCLUSIVITY: CONSTRUCTING THE MASCULINE ORIENTATION TOWARDS VIOLENCE
IN THE PROCESS OF EDUCATION
- It is very probable that a significant penetration of women into public life and other
fields that are regarded as classically masculine, can be expected in future. That will
probably enable the adoption of a different vision, different approach and perspective to
the issues of violence, war and peace. It would certainly release men from the pressure
that only they are to bear responsibility for defence, conflicts and other issues of war
and security. On the other hand it would deprive women of their "privileged
status" of passivity in their resolution of conflicts without struggle.
- The author argues that the expected equal participation of women both in public life and
in fields that are regarded as typically masculine is not a guarantee that the traditional
approach to violence would be changed. Nobody can guarantee that women will be oriented to
peace after they achieve equal positions with men in public life. We shall be trapped once
more in stereotypes if we assume in advance that a woman is more passive and peaceful by
nature than a man; or that she is more inclined to peaceful resolution of conflicts.
- The author is of the opinion that the different views of men and women in relation to
war and peace issues are due to the different social status of the male and female persons
in society, and cannot be attributed to some psychological characteristics immanent in the
DECONSTRUCTING MASCULINITIES: MILITARY AND GENDER RELATIONS AND WOMEN'S MEMORIES (WORLD
WAR II, AFGHANISTAN WAR)
- Masculinity as a post-Soviet gender relations discourse has to be analysed in historical
terms. Hidden patriarchal gender politics in the Soviet regime resulted in a common belief
in men's emasculation and effeminacy because of sex equality politics. It is popularly
believed that men's historical sense of themselves was lost and had to be restored.
- Social relations today are very much determined by masculine ideology and attitudes
related to nationalist fundamentalism. Anti-feminism is also present in the post-Soviet
societies. The construction and production of masculinity is a hybrid of the traditional
and masculine practices, values and images, connected with replacing a recipient economy
with a market economy. Nationalist-populist masculine projects range from public
representations of the unknown soldier, saviour of the planet, the image of a strong and
brave man to the hero of new technologies.
- The author also enquires into women's positions, and influences on masculinity
constructions and reproductions. A reading of women's autobiographical narratives about
the politics of motherhood in the matrix of Soviet warfare ideology of masculinity and
feminity constructions is part of this endeavour. Examples include Elena Rzhevskay's
"A Distant Rumble" (1950s), which broke the rules of the canon of war memoirs,
and the taboo around "sacral" myths about war, and Svetlana Alekslevich's
"Zinky Boys" (late 1980s) which shattered the collective identity of the army at
war. The voiced experiences may help to understand why many women today want only the
right to forget the experience of activism, they want to play the virtuous role of wife
- Knut Oftung
MEN AND GENDER EQUALITY IN THE NORDIC COUNTRIES
- The paper gives examples of how men can be seen from a gender perspective and presents
problems that arise when we want to make questions about men's roles visible in politics.
According to the author, his contribution should be understood in the context of the
Nordic countries, where large sections of the economy are part of the mixed economic
system and where it is acceptable that the state use certain of its instruments to further
a policy of gender equality.
- Central to the question of a culture of peace is the question of equality between the
sexes. Inequality and discrimination against women lead to strife whilst a gender
perspective throws light on the problems of aggression and violence.
- The paper also focuses on different aspects of men's lives, the way boys are brought up,
dominant forms of masculinity, and not least, the absence of care-giving responsibilities
in the lives of many men. These issues are relevant to the development of new ways of
being a man and will play a decisive part in the development of a culture of peace.
- The possibility for and willingness of men to take independent responsibility for caring
for their children and to take a critical view of the, at times, insatiable demands of
working life, are two fundamental aspects of men's process of change. Practical care is
part of creating new forms of masculinity. These forms of masculinity are, to a greater
degree, able to perceive the children's needs.
- Being with a child provides basic training in communication with an understanding for
other people's needs. New masculine roles linked with care-giving, can be an important
safeguard against some of the rawest forms of capitalism. Men who practice care-giving
will therefore provide an important basis for a culture of peace.
Daniel Ríos Pineda
SEARCHING FOR OUR IDENTITY
- The author underlined that we must aspire to creating processes of socialization of the
new generations within a framework of gender sensitivity where the culture of peace
prevails over violence (against women, children and other men) without discrimination,
establishing relations of equality and justice, not only in the rights recognized by the
State for their citizens, but also in daily life, in schools, workplaces and within the
- Respecting the efforts of recent years by various organizations, the roles of women and
gender equality have come to the forefront of the discussion world-wide. Specific policies
regarding women have been established, these efforts are important but they limit
themselves to the public sphere, while in the private sphere, in the family, the values
they claim to be eradicating, are reproduced.
CULTURAL FACTORS IN GENDER-SENSITIVE SOCIALIZATION TOWARDS A CULTURE OF PEACE, AND VALUE
FORMATION AND PEACE EDUCATION FOR MILITARY AND POLICE FORCES.
- The paper supports the view that masculine and feminine roles are more socially and
culturally prescribed than biologically determined. Differences and diversities existing
among men and women are complementary rather than exclusionary. The author espouses
equality, not uniformity; partnership not superiority nor inferiority; empowerment of both
sexes, and not dominance or submission of one sex.
- The hypothesis of the paper is that gender roles and differentiations, perceptions of
equality or inequality, acceptance or discrimination, dominance or submission, have their
roots in the early socialization process within the family. Taking place within the
context of a particular society and culture, patterns of upbringing children, of young
boys and girls, are the result of parental norms and expectations.
- Human beings are the product of their relationships with significant others in their
lives, in their early socialization within the family, as well as in later interactions in
adult society. Personality develops within the matrix of the interpersonal experiences of
an individual, in early and adult life. Change in values, attitudes and behaviour can take
place through meaningful experiences and interaction with others, such as in experiential
values education programs for the military and police forces.
- Identification and reinforcement of cultural norms, values and practices that are
gender-sensitive and supportive of a culture of peace during the individual's early
socialization in the family and later in adult life can be components of the strategies
and approaches for a holistic and transformational education towards tolerance, justice
THE NEGATIVE SIDE OF DEVELOPMENT INTERVENTIONS AND GENDER TRANSITIONS: IMPOVERISHED MALE
ROLES THREATEN PEACE
- Men, particularly in the developing world, often perceive changes in their roles as
being negative, since it makes them feel that they lose their long admired unique roles as
breadwinners and protectors. Based on research in Sub-Saharan Africa, it was revealed
that, traditionally, having many children with several wives and girlfriends has been
perceived as a prestigious status symbol of manhood. At present, family planning campaigns
stigmatize such behaviour as irresponsible and AIDS has made womanizing very dangerous.
- The author argues that in the developing world men often face a troublesome identity
crisis. They are at a loss as to how to define themselves and how to validate their
masculinity. How are they to ensure that their identity is separate, different from that
of women ? They are at a loss as to how to define themselves in order to be admired,
esteemed, needed and loved.
- In view of this profound identity crisis and the feelings of being socially and
economically downgraded, the majority of African men tend to turn more and more to
"revolutionary" activities including bloody political and ethnic conflicts that
have swelled the ranks of the armed forces. According to the author, violence and war seem
to be men's last resort, especially for the majority of poor, unemployed and uneducated
- The author further argues that it is very difficult to make valid recommendations for
effective change. First, such recommendations have to be cost-effective so that they can
be implemented also in countries with low budgets. Second, they must have the potential of
being implemented so as to reach the target group : the poor, uneducated men. Third, they
have to include the provision of an income in addition to the psychological basis for the
validation of new masculinity.
MASCULINITY "A LA RUSSE"- GENDER ISSUES IN RUSSIA TODAY
- The history of the USSR shows that progressive ideology without practical work cannot
change patriarchal reality. Such was the case for equality between the sexes, as a
constitutional right, which was never realized in actual life. The collapse of the Soviet
Union also revealed that underneath the weighty surface of communist ideology lay other
ideological systems equally ridden with patriarchal intent.
- But the situation is far from static - it is changing constantly. In 1993, the first
coordinated services for women in crisis began to appear in Moscow and St. Petersburg,
followed by a surge of hotlines and support groups in cities across Russia. Due to the
pioneering work of these first centres and increased attention to women's issues in
general, violence against women in Russia is beginning to be discussed on a societal
level. The Russian women's liberation movement is growing ever-stronger, and men can no
longer ignore this fact. The first men's groups - supporters for the women's movement -
are appearing in Russia.
HUNTING, RULING, SACRIFICING: TRADITIONAL MALE PRACTICES IN CONTEMPORARY BALKAN CULTURES
- During the recent war in Yugoslavia, foreign academics, researchers and political
analysts - not to mention journalists - often had difficulties in understanding the
behaviour of individuals, state representatives, ethnic and social groups.
Misunderstandings and insufficient information led to new stereotypes.
- The paper draws attention to some less known types of traditional cultural behaviour
among malefolk in the Balkans. Reevaluation of traditional types of cultural inter-gender
relationships has already been under way among pacifist groups in Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia
and among Albanians in the region of Kosovo, shortly before and during the war. The author
discusses the phenomena observed around three main traditional activities of malefolk in
the Balkans: hunting, ruling and sacrificing.
- Research in the domain of ancient anthropology has demonstrated that, in Antiquity, male
citizen identity was constructed and self-identifiable not only in the state and its
institutions (army, parliament, agora, public ritual, theatre), but also on the somewhat
less structured margins like hunting and private rituals. Many types of behaviour
displayed by men-warriors during the recent war in former Yugoslavia can be traced back to
their hunting-habits: unorganized paramilitary actions, taking of prisoners to show-off,
taking/raping of women as signs of provisory possession over the territory, hunting games
and intensive communication with the opponents/enemies and interdiction taboos against
touching special "prey" individuals, social groups or women from specific ethnic
or social groups.
NEITHER MALE NOR FEMALE: NEITHER VICTIM NOR EXECUTIONER
- The paper explores two issues. One is the effect of men's near monopoly on society's
legitimate force, i.e. the police and the military. The second is how best to ensure that
police and military personnel, in fact, protect all members of the community and do not
themselves become a threat/menace.
- It is argued that a military and police which are "neither male nor female"
will help to break the link between masculinity and violence, that it will enhance the
performance of both organizations by giving them more breadth of perspective and a wider
range of skills and that it will make women more responsible citizens if they do not just
dismiss police and military as "men's business".
- The problem of ensuring that protective forces do not become executioners requires
careful consideration of the recruitment, of the training, and of policies guiding the
actions of the police and the military. It is essential that women be full participants in
the shaping of such policies.
MASCULINITY AND RACISM
- According to the author, power is the one aspect all variants of masculinity have in
common, not necessarily as the real possession of power, but rather as a "demand for
dominance" or an "entitlement to power". Masculinity is an identity; but
identity should not be understood as the essential core of a person, but as the effect of
practices. Masculinity then is the notion and practice of identity as power/dominance. Yet
this is true not only in the relation between men and women, but also between different
ethnicities. Racism, in fact, can similarly be described as a "demand for
dominance", and as such it usually is combined with a notion of masculinity.
- A policy against violence therefore should not be aimed at shaping the character of men,
but their practices, and it should consider all relations of dominance. One strategy to
further a culture of peace therefore is an "ethics of difference", one that
allows us to respect the otherness and to recognize the sameness of (gender, ethnic,...)
others - a sameness understood, not as some universal humanness, but as the possibility
for a process of negotiation.
QUESTIONS ABOUT CHANGE AND THE TRADITIONAL MALE APPROACH TO INTERNATIONAL POLITICS
- This paper begins by interrogating the question "how to change the traditional male
approach to international politics" by challenging two assumptions embedded in this
question: one about the subject of the "male"; one about the subject of
"international politics". The author goes on to suggest that it makes more sense
to talk about "masculinities" in international politics which has the result
that our understandings about "male roles" become more complicated. An
uncomplicated understanding tends to lead to simplistic views about what the effects of
masculinities are in international politics.
- To demonstrate some of these complexities, the paper briefly discusses four different
kinds of "masculine behaviours" - raising questions about the different ways one
can be a "woman" or be a "man" in the practices of international
politics - two of these from "real world" examples and two from cinema.
- This paper ends with a discussion of the wider context that thinking about "male
roles and masculinities" should be involved in - namely the hierarchical structuring
of gender and sexualities. Concluding with the question "can masculinity be
terminated ?", the author recommends that education about gender (in the wide sense)
be made compulsory.
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