MÄN wants to create change of norms

Many men feel that they are in the dock, which makes it difficult to get through to them with gender equality initiatives. This according to Lena Wallquist from the organisation MÄN. At the ICMEO conference, they talk about new methods for practical efforts against violence and destructive norms.

What will you from MÄN do at the conference?

“We will do various things but the most significant is giving one of the six seminars, the one about norm-critical work in school. We will start from a life cycle perspective and emphasise concrete methods on how to challenge norms and prevent violence in different age groups.”

Why is it important to change norms in school specifically?

“Different kinds of violence and violations take place in the school environment, and this is linked to masculinity norms. We have observed a culture of violence that affects everyone: women, men and the non-binary. It includes everything from sexist jokes and gibes or pushing and mean comments to serious violence and sexual harassment. Changing the norms is one way of dealing with this. We also believe that norms are restrictive, and we wish to widen the opportunities for boys and men. It should be okay to not always rise to expectations, and caring should be a positive thing.”

What is essential to succeed when it comes to gender equality work with men and boys?

“It is important to reach men without creating resistance. Most of us are not susceptible to change if we feel that we are in the dock. At the same time, there are problems we need to attract attention to. For example, we need to be able to talk about how the majority of violence in society is perpetrated by men. It is important to manage this without being accusatory, and I believe it would help to talk about our common responsibility of preventing violence, an active spectatorship, and also to have a life cycle perspective. There are parts of life, periods of transition, when we are more open to change; for example, when we enter adulthood, retire or become parents. When men become fathers, many reflect on their own fathers’ behaviour and how they themselves would like to behave towards their children. This is an opportunity for change.”

What positive effects do you hope the conference will have?

“I hope it will be a place for exchanging experiences and strategies in the work with young people. I wish to talk about concrete methods and also policies that can make this work possible. I hope that we will have the courage to talk about power and privilege. We need to think about how to invest in boys without doing it at the expense of others.”

Charlie Olofsson
Last updated: 12:38 - 27 Jun, 2018
  • EU
  • Gender equality