Big shifts in the socio-political landscape in several western countries as well as in other parts of the world show that the classical division and distribution of labor and care among men and women is changing rapidly. Gender relations are rightly shifting. LGBT emancipation is brought up in many countries. Men have got to face this and embrace it instead of fleeing into resentment, defense, regression or worse… But: just naming and shaming is seldom successful, miss their intended targets and tend to isolate the accused in their situation, which can often turn out to be a trap for themselves and lkeads easily to violence against women, sexual minorities and others. Without agreeing with any misconduct, the right questions are also: What’s in it for boys? For men? What can they offer? What can we, adults, offer to them? Some of the so called ‘male prerogatives’ do not make them happy, but keep them and their partners chained or locked up in one-sided burdens and a great lack of intimacy.
Regrettably, boys are sometimes misunderstood in their coping behavior, neglected in what they need, given bad examples and often dealt with in a reproachful and even repressive way without a perspective of something better..
Use them (so they can direct their energy and creativity towards society) or lose them (and have their energy turn destructive).
Just setting limits without perspectives is not enough. This does not help, is unfair to them and may turn against themselves and their environment. We have to help them to channel their energy in a constructive way. They did not make the world in which they were born, but they can contribute. I am a man myself – with all associated flaws and qualities, not young, a bit older now and with a lot of experience. Men can do much better than many do now. We can reflect on that, in order to learn and enjoy life in a healthier way. Our way may differ from that of women in its qualities. After all individualization and alienation, we have to find the means to get to a culture of cooperation. This everlasting search inspires me.
You can get an idea of my contribution in the text I wrote for the start of a working group on ‘Men and Masculinities‘ of The European Institute for Gender Equality, Vilnius, November 2010.
Another text was written for a EU Seminar on Gender Equality in Ankara in 2008. (https://www.laukwoltring.nl/modules/download_gallery/dlc.php?file=8)
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