A Research Companion
Edited by Mustafa F. Özbiligin
Chapter 30: Men, Gender Equality and Gender Equality Policy
Jeff Hearn INTRODUCTION How do we think about and understand men’s relation to and involvement with gender equality at work? What are the different kinds of relationship that men have to gender equality? Why is gender equality of interest to some, often relatively few, men? Why is it not of interest to some, often many, men? What are the theoretical, political, policy and practical reasons why it is important for men to become involved in these issues? How is this to be done? What are the promises, dangers and implications of these developments? Such questions take us to the very heart of assumptions, understandings, politics and ideologies about gender equality, and even the very notion of gender. In many countries and many workplaces gender equality is still seen as ‘women’s business’. Gender equality, as usually understood, does not necessarily problematize men; it may adopt the ‘short agenda’ (Jewson and Mason, 1986; Cockburn, 1989, 1990) of seeking to elevate women to the way men are, rather than seeking more fundamental change in and beyond workplaces. There is a profound need, both analytical and political, for men to understand men’s broad relation to gender inequality and equality. While men are collectively and individually located as powerful in relation to women, these are not fixed or monolithic structures of power. Indeed, part of the structuring of patriarchy is the maintenance of relations of power between men, by age, class, ethnicity, sexuality and other divisions. Some subordinated men may also be discriminated against, rarely...
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