Forum to Engage Men
Besides women who are subjected to certain specific forms of gender based violence, other boys and men too suffer and become targets of the expression of masculinity. From our diverse efforts and work with communities we have learnt that it is difficult to challenge and change ideas of masculinities but not impossible. We have always had men from different social settings as allies in the work on gender equality. Many of us within this proposed network are men who have been deeply influenced by the ideas of the women’s movement and believe that as men we have a lot to gain from posing challenges to forms of power systems that provide us with privileges but in doing so also deprive us of the benefits that would accrue from a more equal world. In more recent times we have also learnt from the activism and politics of the gay/queer movements the important ways in which concepts as well as practices of masculinities are challenged by non heterosexual expressions of sexuality and why most forms of masculinities display a pathological hatred as well as fear of all other forms of sexual expression but heterosexuality. We are a diverse group of individuals and organisations that share a vision of working with boys and men on issues of gender equality and violence. Professionally as well as personally we have come to a point where we feel that it is critical to intervene in the area of masculinities. We need to go beyond the most obvious and visible signs and symbols of masculinities to discover knowledge as well as ideas on how boys and men can become part of movements that carry messages and actions towards gender equality. If men can be part of so many fronts on which inequalities of different kinds are being challenged then there is no reason why they cannot be part of the ongoing struggle to partner with boys and men against violence and gender inequalities. When we talk to men and boys individually we often hear stories of the hierarchies that exist within the system of masculinities, we hear stories of violence, coercion and subjugation. We also hear stories of tenderness, yearnings and unhappiness. The challenge that lies in front of us is to make these voices audible and create the belief that change is possible.