Why run workshops for male-only audiences?
GL specifically aims to bring men into conversations about gender in a constructive way. We have found that despite men often being referred to as “part of the solution”, few social interventions actively engage them.
Empirical research indicates that workshops for male-only groups are most effective in changing attitudes of men in gender based education programmes. We believe this to be especially true in pre-existing male groups such as sports teams.
Despite focussing on men, we are currently developing mixed-gender workshops for environments which naturally include both genders such as high schools and corporate teams.
Why use male-only facilitation teams?
We feel that it is important to create an environment for the discussion of gender in spaces where these topics are rarely spoken about (i.e. in spaces without women). This is important for achieving long term positive change within male communities.
We are, however, currently training female facilitators to run workshops with mixed groups in high schools, corporate environments and universities.
Doesn’t this exclude female voices?
No. Input from women is sought at every level of Good Lad. Our workshops are developed based on consultation with women’s groups, and women form a core part of Good Lad’s organisation structure at the executive, management and facilitator levels.
Furthermore, Good Lad works closely with a number of organisations within the field of gender who work to actively promote women’s voices on this topic.
How does emphasis on “positive masculinity” address male responsibility for negative behaviour?
The conceptual core of positive masculinity focuses upon the positive contribution that men can have in any given complex gender situation. As such, it provides an alternative to the ‘minimum standards’ approach which focuses upon the behaviour which men should not exhibit. Positive masculinity provides a decision-making framework that assists men to become more aware of their own behaviour and how this interacts with the social system and culture that they are a part of. Through the workshops we explore suggestions for alternative behaviours which may be more conducive to achieving gender equality, both for individuals and in the context of group dynamics.
Is developing men’s skills really the right approach?
At Good Lad we encourage behaviour that attempts to make a positive contribution to gender equality. We attempt to do so by speaking with men in their natural friendship and social groups. At Good Lad we feel that changes in power start by targeting changes in behaviour within people’s natural social circles.
In our experience, young men often do not feel equipped to deal with gender issues in their lives. This often results in disengagement, perpetuating negative gender relationships. We thus believe that enabling men to engage with gender issues and developing their skills is vital to promoting gender equality.
What are “complex gender situations”?
We have a broad definition of ‘complex gender situation’. It is any situation where a person makes a decision which is influenced by gender or which influences gender. This could include, but is not limited to, sexual consent, group nights out, jokes and banter, talking about sex, working in teams, and managing professional relationships.
What about gender situations with a clear right and wrong, such as domestic abuse and sexual violence?
A minimal standards approach for dealing with gender issues emphasises legal boundaries, which should not be crossed. Positive masculinity completely supports these and tries to provide men with tools to recognise them. We absolutely defend the law and the situations we choose to discuss don’t ever condone (explicitly or implicitly) illegal actions. However, positive masculinity attempts to go beyond the legal framework by focusing on behaviour that can pro-actively decrease gender inequality.
Why does Good Lad focus on Oxford University students?
To date Good Lad has predominantly worked with Oxford University Sports Teams because the founders have been based in Oxford. However, we are currently working to expand our program beyond Oxford and universities, to encourage the discussion of positive masculinity in a number of different communities.
What about women: don’t many women also perpetuate gender stereotypes and problematic gender-related behaviour?
Yes. We support the many initiatives which focus on addressing gender issues with women. We believe that these initiatives perfectly complement the work done by Good Lad with men.