This is the second in an occasional series of “moonshot ideas” from Masculinity Research that propose large high-level solutions to the “problem” of masculinity.
What Would a Useful Masculinity NGO Look Like?
The NGO would start with the premise that there are numerous issues that prevent men from reaching their potential, both for their own good and that of society. For example, men are disproportionately represented when it comes to committing and experiencing violence, underachieving in education, having poor health, being homeless and being incarcerated. There are also a range of traditionally masculine characteristics (such as forcefulness and risk-taking) that when taken to extreme lengths have a massive impact on macro-level issues such as war, economics and the environment.
The NGO theory of change would be based on research and advocacy activities that feed into various domains—both public and private—in order to catalyze change for the better:
The Masculinity NGO Theory of Change
Position on Gender Politics
When discussing men and masculinities, people tend to occupy one of two positions. First, a feminist-informed position largely sees men and masculinity as a problem that must be resolved to mitigate women’s problems. Second, a men’s rights-informed position largely sees men as under attack from feminists who have no interest in men’s problems.
The NGO occupies a third position that is feminist-informed while acknowledging the reality of men’s problems. The NGO does not endorse the belief that feminism has caused problems for men, nor does it advocate reappropriation of any resources that are channelled to feminist causes. The NGO embodies an “alternative politics”, not “anti-politics”. The NGO includes within its scope the full spectrum of male sexualities, and indeed sees the reduction of homophobia as part of its mission.
Position in the Non-Profit Domain
Non-profit organisations that speak to men and masculinities tend to occupy one of two positions. First, there are a number of organisations that speak to men’s physical and mental health (such as Blue Ribbon Foundation). These organisations are essential, but only address one of many issues that impact men and masculinities. Second, there are a number of organisations that speak to men’s impact on women (such as White Ribbon). These organisations are essential, but are focused more on women than men.
The NGO addresses a wide range of issues impacting men and masculinities with a primary (although not exclusive) focus on the impact on men, providing a complement to rather than replication of the scope of existing organisations.