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Presentation Masculinities in Hiv Jerker 11 11 08 (V2)
Theoretical (and practical) perspectives on Masculinities - Applying it to HIV, sex and health Date: 11 11 2008 Jerker Edström , Fellow, IDS
Some questions <ul><li>What has research on masculinities shown which might help engage men better for gender change? </li></ul><ul><li>What lessons can be drawn from advances and failures in work with men on HIV/AIDS, violence against women and broader issues of SRHR? </li></ul><ul><li>what kind of ‘gender myths’ about men are in circulation in these and other areas of development work and what shape do they take in practice? </li></ul><ul><li>what are the implications of current masculinities discourses, in different areas and academic fields and how does this relate to understandings emerging from practice in different contexts? </li></ul>
What I’ll talk about <ul><li>Describe where masculinities research has got to roughly (based on R.W. Connell summaries mostly) </li></ul><ul><li>Look briefly at the state of male engagement in HIV from research as well as my practical work </li></ul><ul><li>Consider some current/remaining obstacles </li></ul><ul><li>Describe how confused development ideas on ‘vulnerability’ may have contributed to gender binaries and simplistic HIV narratives </li></ul><ul><li>Touch on issues of work with men in relation to HIV </li></ul><ul><li>Recap some points from all of that </li></ul>
Examples of earlier forays into research on men and masculinity <ul><li>Masculinity in a context of modernisation and split cultural identities in Mexico was a theme in Octavio Paz's The Labyrinth of Solitude back in 1950. </li></ul><ul><li>Insights on masculinities and colonialism in India can be found in Ashis Nandy's The Intimate Enemy , drawing on European psychoanalytic research going back a century. </li></ul><ul><li>There has been a considerable literature of US social-psychological research, using abstracted measures of masculinity/femininity and the "male role" for decades. </li></ul>
More recent developments stimulated by GAD and feminist research, focused on masculinities <ul><li>In the 1980s, there was something of a breakthrough, when research combined the conceptual power of the new gender analysis with sensitive empirical research techniques, which built up new pictures of men, boys, and social constructions of masculinity (Connell 1995). </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Techniques such as life history interviews, sample surveys, ethnography, institutional research, discourse analysis, and studies of written and visual documents </li></ul></ul><ul><li>As research circulates from more regions of the world, more comprehensive syntheses are appearing, such as the recent Handbook of Studies on Men and Masculinities . </li></ul>
Some findings in masculinity research that are well supported by evidence <ul><li>1. Multiplicity: There is no single version of masculinity between cultures, or from one historical time to another. Multiple masculinities (defined as identities or as patterns of practice) are found within the one culture or organisation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>These findings argue against the idea that a violent, aggressive masculinity is "natural" or biologically fixed. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>2. Relations among masculinities: or, linked constructions of masculinity, within a hierarchy of exclusion – forms a basis for gender relations between men and women and men. That is, one (or more) pattern of masculinity is (or are) socially dominant and other patterns are marginalised. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The term "hegemonic masculinity" is in use to name the socially dominant construction and </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>contests for dominance among men are a fruitful source of violence, mainly between men, including homophobic violence. </li></ul></ul>
Some findings in masculinity research that are well supported by evidence (contd.) <ul><li>3. Collectivity : Masculinities also exist at the level of social collectives and can be institutionalised in organisations (e.g. armies, bureaucracies) or informal groups (families, gangs, networks), and expressed in shared cultural forms (myths and folklore, mass media, social stereotypes). </li></ul><ul><ul><li>This collective reality is a reason why change in gender practice among men/boys is hard to start simply by persuasion, as the institutional, or the peer group culture, pushes in the other direction. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>4. Social learning : Masculinities (and femininities) are formed over long periods of life, with complex social influences. Much of the popular discussion of masculinity focuses on the influence of older men (especially fathers), but women too are deeply involved in this process - as mothers, relatives, friends, sexual partners, and workmates. The process can also be highly organised, e.g. in gender-segregated schools, military training, and gender-segregated sports. </li></ul>
<ul><li>5. Complexity: In case-by-case life history research or in conversation analysis, the internal complexities of gender become apparent. Contradictory emotional trends are not unusual in one person's life, There can be multiple gender positions among which a given person can shift. Men may have valuable capacities (e.g. to care for small children) but live in social circumstances that rarely call on these capacities. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Complexities may produce flexibility in gender practices, but may also be sources of tension or even violence. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>6. Change: Early accounts of the social construction of gender were elaborated in terms of "sex roles" and "norms". We now have to move beyond this, as a focus on compliance with norms misses the way that breaking rules may be the very means of constructing masculinity, as shown by Norwegian research on teenagers, and a wider literature of criminology. Gender relations are historically dynamic, and the complexity of masculinities involve tensions that can lead to change. </li></ul>Some findings in masculinity research that are well supported by evidence (contd.)
So where are the men in HIV and Sexual and Reproductive Health, or rights?
Applying progress in masculinities research to the gendered fields of SRH and HIV? <ul><li>Interest and momentum behind masculinities as applied to sexual and reproductive health got a boost from HIV and the realisation that more men (or couples) need to use condoms… </li></ul><ul><li>Research from HIV and SRH projects in 17 countries found that commonly : ideas about manliness and masculinity exert a powerful influence on men’s sexual behaviours; but also that young men’s sexual and reproductive health needs are typically neglected anyway; and there is often opposition to work with young men (Rives and Aggleton, 2002). </li></ul><ul><li>Political will to translate advocacy into action to address men’s sexual and reproductive health needs has broadly been absent (Alan Guttmacher Institute, 2003) and safer sex strategies have tended to draw on and perpetuate stereotypical ideas about masculinity (Flood, 2003). </li></ul>
‘ 90s HIV prevention – ‘Gender and Development’ <ul><li>During the 80s and 90s, general AIDS awareness campaigns in many developing countries were based on gender-neutral linear rational choice theories of sexual behaviour, but incorporated prevailing gender constructs in their messages </li></ul><ul><li>They were largely ineffectual in shifting any deeper attitudes or behaviours, other than boosting certain stigmatising ones… </li></ul><ul><li>Drawing from development practice and participation, geographic communities and typical households became the unit of analysis and a gender narrative became the basis for relating vulnerability to infection with women’s rights and development, over public health. </li></ul><ul><li>This was positive when it led to locally diverse and relevant responses, and many interesting ways of working with men and women emerged. </li></ul>
A few pennies dropped for me in ‘99 <ul><li>The fact that gender is relational wasn’t being taken seriously (Cornwall and White, 2000) and the vulnerability of women analysis fundamentally suggested a binary and opposite threat and hazard – men or males… </li></ul><ul><li>Increasing frustrations with language around reaching and reforming men to liberate women, with; </li></ul><ul><ul><li>little relational or multi-faceted understanding of vulnerability and risk </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>hopelessly generalised notions of male and female </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>few conceptual means and tools to explore men’s vulnerabilities and needs, for their own sake – let alone in relation to women’s </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Sex workers, gay men, prisoners and drug users etc. were often overlooked in gender and HIV programmes and both the analysis and implementing NGOs were sometimes part of the obstacle. </li></ul>
Beyond gender myths and binaries: the search for a new language <ul><li>Shared frustration with binary stereotypes of women and men that continue to hold sway: </li></ul><ul><li>male predators female victims </li></ul><ul><ul><li>male promiscuity female faithfulness </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> male violence female victim-hood </li></ul></ul><ul><li>These dichotomies reinforce essentialist gender constructs and undermine men’s motivation to engage with gender equality initiatives </li></ul><ul><li>How can we break away from binary understandings of gender without losing sight of structural inequities? </li></ul>
“ Marginalised men?” <ul><li>Many men are also marginalised – are they worthy beneficiaries of gender work? </li></ul><ul><li>“ I seriously doubt that poor, disempowered and frustrated men with no access to income generating activities, who are not respected by their wives because of lack of financial support, who are blamed for their extramarital activities, and whose self-esteem and masculinity are at stake, would be interested in engaging in the struggle for gender justice, gender equality and broader social change…What would really interest them is getting access to income generating activities that would enable them to provide for their families” </li></ul>
Men = the new victims? Be wary of false equivalences! <ul><li>We need to engage with poor men’s realities without positing them as the new victims </li></ul><ul><li>Be wary of slipping into a language which regards women and men as equivalently vulnerable, or which describes men as ‘worse off’ than women </li></ul><ul><li>This draws a false equivalence between women and men which ignores the real differences in power and privilege experienced by women and men, and overlooks men’s accountability for the ways in which they choose to act our their privilege </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
Where does the problem lie? <ul><li>The trouble is that our very analysis tends to get steeped in deeply polarised gender preconceptions associated with the very words we use, right from the outset. </li></ul><ul><li>Gender narratives often simplify ‘gender’ along with two binary sexes and focus on the female as vulnerable , due to inequality etc. </li></ul><ul><li>There are at least three dichotomies inherent in vulnerability: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>(1) Exposure to threats vs. experiencing negative consequences of those; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(2) Vulnerability necessarily coexists with its opposite – i.e. resilience (which are often more or equally relevant to building strategies for responding); and </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(3) Internal embodied aspects in relation to external contextually relative aspects of vulnerability and resilience. </li></ul></ul>
Which could be depicted thus… Suscepti- bility Resist- ance Resilience Vulnerability Respon- siveness Sensi- tivity “ Before ” Hazards & risk factors “ After ”, or “If” Outcomes & impacts Internal Embodied/ Embedded External Interaction with context Potential shock/stress/infection Source: Edström, J. and Samuels F. (2007), “HIV, Nutrition, Food Security and Livelihoods in Sub-Saharan Africa: Evidence, debates and reflections for guidance” Report to DFID, June 2007
Two basic senses of vulnerability <ul><li>The first point is that it has two senses forward and backward looking: one is anticipative of exposure and the other of the consequences. The person most vulnerable to infection may not be most vulnerable to the impacts. </li></ul><ul><li>Aside from missing out on such asymmetries, development writers often tend to be ‘masculinities-blind’ and focus mainly on women’s vulnerability in a rather generalised passive sense. Men’s vulnerability, when at all recognised, tends to get talked of in more active terms, for example, as a result of their risk-taking behaviours, mobile lifestyles, or blind aggression. </li></ul><ul><li>Men’s vulnerabilities to the impacts of infection are less often analysed, if at all. A further problem in a passive and generalised framing of vulnerability is the limited scope for building on people’s agency. </li></ul>
Bodies in relation to context - Making sense of sensitivity and susceptibility <ul><li>In the ‘embodied vs. contextual’ dichotomy, we are helped by a gender framework which emphasises gender as complex and diverse, but necessarily embodied in physical individual human beings , albeit shaped and given sense by their social interaction, socialisation and power relations (Connell, 2005). </li></ul><ul><li>As resilience is the flip-side of vulnerability, generally, resistance and responsiveness are the embodied/internal counterparts to susceptibility and sensitivity, respectively. </li></ul><ul><li>Resistance and resilience Responsiveness and resilience </li></ul><ul><li>in the face of threats in dealing with the impacts of shocks </li></ul><ul><li>Immunity and impenetrability Ability to regenerate / reconstitute </li></ul><ul><li>Power to ‘withstand’ Power to climb/bounce back </li></ul><ul><li>Pre-emptive and diversionary tactics Accommodating tactics </li></ul><ul><li>Solidity Adaptability, malleability </li></ul><ul><li>Proactive Reactive </li></ul>
Caution advised on using HIV as the main banner to tackle gender-based violence… <ul><li>Whilst research in South Africa has showed that high levels of male control in a woman’s current relationship is associated with being HIV positive, other factors like forced first intercourse, or adult sexual assault by non-partners were not found to be associated with HIV status (Dunkle et al., 2006). </li></ul><ul><li>Whilst sexual violence in relationships, or conflict situations can heighten the vulnerability of individuals; </li></ul><ul><ul><li>(a) it is not always as significant epidemiologically as it is often made out to be (but underlying gender inequities seem to be), </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(b) the analysis is often not improved by making it primarily an HIV issue (abuse, rape and pillage pose problems for other reasons, e.g. injustice…) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(c) by focusing on the extremes, this approach tends to tar men as brutish predators and women as poor and defenceless victims. </li></ul></ul>
New ways of theorising? <ul><li>Has the concept of gender as it has come to be used in the field of policy and practice reached the end of its shelf life? </li></ul><ul><li>“ Heteronormativity” – a more versatile and more nuanced articulating principle which gets closer to the heart of the issues of power? But do people understand what it means? </li></ul><ul><li>What about the investments that women as well as men may have in what appears to be an inequitable status quo – investments that may have some quite substantial pay-offs? </li></ul>
Male bodies and sexualities <ul><li>Sense of the inevitability of the hydraulics of men’s sexuality which doesn’t match men’s realities </li></ul><ul><li>Idealised images of masculinity create the almost universal expectation that men are ready and willing to have sex whenever the opportunity presents itself </li></ul><ul><li>The social pressure to live up to these expectations is a source of intense anxiety for many men – anxiety about failing to perform properly, failing to ‘get it right’, not being ‘man enough’ </li></ul>
Putting emotions back into the picture <ul><li>Tendency within development to reduce male sexuality to the body, and particularly to the act of penetration – a ‘genital sexuality’ </li></ul><ul><li>Men going to sex workers are assumed to be buying this kind of sex. Prevention strategies have focused on making sure that sex workers use condoms with them. Some don’t want penetrative sex at all, and go to sex workers to fulfill other desires – including for a hug, or someone to talk to </li></ul><ul><li>We need greater inclusion of emotional intelligence and reflexivity in work on HIV/AIDS and masculinity </li></ul>
Sexuality and development: how would we like to see this relationship changing? <ul><li>The AIDS epidemic has created some space for greater openness about sex. But sex is generally approached as a problem </li></ul><ul><li>The problem with focusing only on the most negative dimensions of male sexuality is that we lose sight of everyman in the midst of it all, men: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>who are confused about the signals they get from their bodies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>who are scared of anyone knowing that they find it difficult and painful to ‘perform’ many times a night be seen by their wives and girlfriends as ‘man enough’ </li></ul></ul>
Sexuality and development: how would we like to see this relationship changing? (cont) <ul><li>To recognise these men is not to deny the harm that they can do to others, or indeed themselves </li></ul><ul><li>What it does is takes us beyond a set of stereotyped assumptions about men’s sexual desires and behaviour </li></ul><ul><li>Opening up space to explore the taken-for-granted ideas that we all grow up with – and the feelings associated with them – can be incredibly powerful. In the current moral and political climate, these kinds of spaces become all the more important </li></ul>
So what? <ul><li>The argument is not that gender imbalances and injustices don’t exist. They do and matter, but this is important beyond sex & health </li></ul><ul><li>The situations of male threat + female vulnerability = risk or injustice are not uncommon, but by dividing the conceptual tools between a male and female divide we simply contribute to constructing binary unequal genders. </li></ul><ul><li>It is more fruitful to critique these equations and generalisations, test them by reversals and to reflect on how our language (and programs) creates categories, frictions and gender mythologies. </li></ul><ul><li>In rights to: sexual well-being, health, reproductive choice, parental leave, child custody, inheritance, access to resources, potentials for promotion, legal protection, etc. – gender should not be the issue. </li></ul><ul><li>Politicise men, as well as women, for social justice </li></ul>
So, how to square the gender circle? Why don’t men seem to care?
Recapping some ideas… <ul><li>Some points on understanding masculinities in gender: </li></ul><ul><li>Multiple masculinities in the same context (and across diff. ones) </li></ul><ul><li>Inter-relatedness of hegemonic and other masculinities (Between men-men, men-women, and women-women) </li></ul><ul><li>Collective maintenance of masculinities </li></ul><ul><li>Social learning of masculinities (from women, men etc) </li></ul><ul><li>Complex , contradictory and dynamic masculinities </li></ul><ul><li>Changing masculinities with social change and crises </li></ul><ul><li>Some points on understanding masculinities in HIV: </li></ul><ul><li>Current blind-spots from using “gendering gender-binaries” </li></ul><ul><li>Vulnerability and gender as socially constructed and embodied at the same time </li></ul><ul><li>The relationship between gendered biological bodies in social interaction, complicated by the agency of microbes </li></ul><ul><li>Recognition that HIV does not discriminate on gender </li></ul>
Spot the man? What kind of notions exist in your country about what men are like? Can you think of 5 men who have meant significantly different things to you? What have you learned about men from women? Do you find men interested in your studies or views on gender? If so, how have they engaged?