Raewyn Connell on Masculinities

Here’s my transcription to aid accessibility, featuring the University of Sydney interviewing Professor Raewyn Connell talking about her career researching the sociology of masculinities (watch below).

Gif of Raewyn Connell, with her name and following text overlaid: It's about what they actually do in the worldConnell: Well for me, masculinity is a pattern of practice. So it’s not an attitude; it’s not what’s in people’s heads; it’s not the state of their hormones; it’s what they actually do in the world and that’s something that has a relationship to your body, to your biology, but not a fixed relationship. So women can behave in a masculine way, though usually it’s men who do, and also there are different patterns of masculinity, so different groups of men will conduct themselves different ways and those patterns can also change over time. And that of course is what we hope to achieve in anti-violence work because some patterns of masculinity do include a willingness to use violence, an openness to using violence. Whereas other patterns of masculinity are, in comparison, peaceable. And part of the problem of reducing violence in the world is to shift from the first and second kind of masculinity.

What is hegemonic masculinity?

Connell: Masculinities do centrally concern relations between men as a group and women as a group, and of course, individual relationships between particular men and particular women. But they also concern relationships among men. So that one of the things research has repeatedly shown in different parts of the world is a kind of hierarchy among masculinities where in a given community or a given organisation one kind of masculinity is the honoured one, is the “top dog”, so-to-speak, the hegemonic pattern of masculinity – and other forms of masculinity by contrast of are less honoured, more marginalised; perhaps even excluded from respect altogether.

What is to be done?

Connell: There are really quite a range of things that can be done among different groups of men and boys of course, because boys, many of them in school, many of them in learning situations of one kind or another are actually in the process of forming their patterns of masculinity so interventions towards more peaceful forms of masculine should i think definitely include boys as well as adult men these interventions can take the form of personalised situations where you create a safe space for boys or men to talk about gender relations, to talk about their experiences with women, talk about their experiences with other men and think through what it would be to live in a more peaceable more democratic way. There are also public policy interventions which might create the possibilities of change in masculinity given that uh… the most violent institutions in the world are states – military, prison systems, police forces – how can we reduce the impact of organized violence is also part of the problem of changing masculinities.

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