Participants from various Asian countries recently attended a conference in Bangkok centering on transforming men's beliefs about themselves, including "sexual entitlement" that often leads to violence against women.
“How are you supposed to be a man in society?” was one of the central questions at a recent conference held in Bangkok by Partners for Prevention, a United Nations interagency program that focuses on ending gender-based violence. The event drew mostly male participants from eight nations, including Indonesia, Laos and Mongolia, where, according to one attendee, finding the very words to address gender issues is a challenge. “[T]hat vocabulary…would offend people. They would block their ears….For feminism, I [say] ‘equal rights for men and women.'”
What’s the Big Idea?
Surveys conducted by Partners for Prevention among men and women across Asia show that across the region, “sexual entitlement” was the most commonly listed reason for committing rape, followed by “fun.” Also, nearly half of those men who reported having raped a woman said that they did so for the first time when they were under the age of 20. According to program coordinator James Lang, this points to the need for educating young men in particular, which may seem obvious but “the work with men has been very superficial until this point because they haven’t been targeted.” An activist from Laos says that attitudes need to shift away from beliefs that “gender work [is] women’s work…It’s only now that we are starting to talk about masculinity.”