Bernie Goldie

Arts’ series of workshops

Conference on men’s roles in building gender equality

A conference held from November 28-30 at UOW focused on the role men can play in building gender equality.

The event was hosted by the Centre for Research on Men and Masculinities (CROMM) and supported by the Institute for Social Transformation Research (ISTR) and Faculty of Arts at UOW.

“Men’s roles – in stopping violence against women, fostering equitable workplaces, and sharing parenting – are now on the public agenda. There’s widespread recognition that men have a vital role to play in helping to build a more gender-equal world. At the same time, this work is difficult and delicate. The conference highlighted the promise and the problems of engaging men,” according to Dr Michael Flood, Senior Lecturer and Co-Director of CROMM.

The two-day conference focused on, and sought to advance, efforts to address men’s roles in building gender equality. The event involved a mix of researchers, advocates, and educators, who:

    • Addressed the positive roles men can play in such fields as men’s violence against women, parenting, sexual and reproductive health, and HIV/AIDS;

    • Evaluated efforts to engage men in building gender equality;

    • Discussed the politics and problems of this work; and

    • Provided direct training for advocates and educators.

“In Australia and internationally, there’s a growing emphasis on involving men in preventing violence against women, fostering women’s participation in the workplace, and sharing the load of parenting and housework. This is visible in government policies, community services, and advocacy and activism. It’s time, however, to focus on what’s been achieved so far, what works and what doesn’t, and where we take this next. That was the goal of this conference,” Dr Flood said.

Among the participants and their specialities were:

    • Dr Michael Flood, on men and gender equality, men’s roles in preventing violence against women;

    • Dr Christine Beasley, on feminist perspectives on men’s roles

    • Tracy Castelino, on dangers in involving men in preventing violence against women;

    • Dr Susan Harwood, on how to engage men with women in building gender equality in male-dominated workplaces;

    • Clare Bartholomaeus, on boys’ understandings of gender equality;

    • Nur Hasyim, on engaging men in Indonesia in preventing violence against women;

    • James Lang, on men’s use and experiences of violence in Asia and the Pacific;

    • Dr Dean Laplonge, on the mining industry;

    • Professor Bob Pease, on male dominance and men’s roles;

    • Dr Graeme Russell, on fathers and gender equality.

Casting light on conservatism in Australia

Unlike Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom, those involved in right of centre politics in Australia generally prefer to be called liberals rather than conservatives.

Why should this be so? The reality is that conservatism in Australia is an area of our political landscape that is little understood. A workshop on ‘Conservatism in Australia’ held at the University of Wollongong on 30 November sought to cast some light on both conservatism in Australia and its sibling liberalism.

David Kemp, former Education Minister in the Howard government, and Associate Professor Greg Melleuish from UOW’s School of History and Politics explored the role played by conservatism in Australian history while Wayne Errrington, biographer of John Howard and Scott Prasser, Australia’s leading academic expert on Royal Commissions, considered the contemporary situation.

A panel later that day featuring some of Australia’s leading conservative commentators, Miranda Devine, columnist for The Sydney Daily Telegraph, Keith Windschuttle editor of Quadrant and Tom Switzer, editor of the Australian Spectator debated and discussed some of the major issues for conservatives in 21st century Australia. The panel discussion was open to the public.

Liberalism and conservatism are major aspects of the political life of Australia.

Professor Melleuish said the workshop aimed at dispelling some of the myths surrounding them.

“It will help to explain why conservatives are not the same as liberals while illuminating what they have in common,” he said.

New media regulation and cultural literacies

The transformation of communication via networked digital media has led to a blurring between media producers and users.

There are increasing calls for restriction of content that is legal in some jurisdictions but is considered offensive in Australia.

A two-day workshop sponsored by the Institute for Social Transformation Research in the Faculty of Arts over 27/28 November involved a series of case studies about communicative environments in specific “communities of use” that are affected by legislation aimed at preventing certain kinds of representation/speech acts.

These include ‘Boys Love’ (a female-based Japanese manga fandom dedicated to male-male romance); “extreme” music communities (user-generated music subcultures using obscene lyrics and images); teenage “sexting” (exchange of explicit visual and textual materials via new media); and transgressive art practices that challenge normative understandings of childhood as asexual.

These case studies were discussed by experts from both law and informatics –- adding valuable perspectives from outside of the cultural studies paradigms adopted by most speakers.

The workshop aimed to: (1) present evidence-based research into the kinds of communicative environments that exist in problematic online communities; (2) analyse and critique current Australian standards and strategies for regulation and (3) recommend ways that academics, policy makers and users can be brought into dialogue so as to generate more culturally literate regulatory policies.

A public lecture by Fiona Patten, President of the Australian Sex Party and the Eros Foundation, on “Customs: Setting New Agendas on Censorship, Privacy and Morality” was also held on the evening of 27 November.


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More media coverage

  • Taking part in the gender equality conference are (from left) Professor Bob Pease, Dr Michael Flood, Dr Christine Beasley, Professor Jeff Hearn and Dr Richard Howson

  • Participants in the ‘Conservatism in Australia’ workshop were (from left) Keith Windshuttle, Miranda Devine, Associate Professor Greg Melleuish, Paul Brown and Tom Switzer

  • Professor Mark McLelland with the President of the Eros Association and the Australian Sex Party, Fiona Patten