Reflecting on A New World of gender with a New Kind of Patriarchy

From our Swedish partners at Men for Gender Equality:

Professor Raewyn Connell was one of the guests of the feminist meeting Nordic Forum in Malmö.  Men for Gender Equality had the honour to be her host. We interviewed her about global challenges, men and equality.

What do you talk about at the forum?

 – I will be speaking at the forum about the body. I will talk about how bodies are becoming globalised. Take for example care work. In a global economy you employ someone to help you with care work, and that someone is usually a woman from a poor country. Or your clothes, a lot are produced in China by the body of women. Even tissues like organs are now becoming part of a global trade.

– What is happening is that we are moving into a new world of gender with a new kind of patriarchy based on the global market which embed men’s power in transnational corporations supported by market friendly state. As a result feminist strategies have to change too and we have to think globally about every aspect of gender. Feminism in rich countries have to learn from feminist movements and theory in the south and we need new strategies for contesting market power and give much grater significance to international solidarity politics.

– Feminists in rich countries need to learn from the global south. Feminists from the south are not given space in the gender discussing, they have no global importance. I very much encourage people to search out to find south scholars.  (see below to find out an example of what scholars Connell suggests)

What is your impression of the Forum so far?
– I am fascinated of the Forum and how it combines  different types of strategies in terms of music, art, debates, discussion, simply the presence of so many groups and women from different backgrounds. It’s a great thing!

What do you think about the work Men for Gender equality does?
– Gender is a system that effects both women and men. If the gender order is to change to equality and peaceful relationship men must be involved I this. Men for gender equality is one organisation that gives focus to the immediate task that groups of men have in aiming to provide current moves towards gender equality. The organisation also give the social support men need when being part of equality work.

What are your suggestions in terms of getting men involved to work for gender equality?
– First of all it should start early. Young men in high school for instance are usually interested in issues regarding gender and sexuality. But they don’t get good information and instead their sources of information is public advertisement and sporting events etc. There is a need for good education to young men. It can be informally in school or for example in neighborhood organisations. One such example is the White Ribbon who are doing this but obviously there is a need of continuing work.

– Another thing is to try involve men in places which are meaningful to them. Like the workplace, sport arena and other entertainment and leisure arenas. Third way is to build on men’s interest in children, their own children. The current masculinity norms distance men from women and family but today a lot want the contact.
The anti feminist movement claim that feminists are hostile towards men and their engagement with children. This is not true at all and more support must be given to men contesting the norm and want to take equal responsibility in child care.

Linda Karlsson

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