43 episodes

What's it like to be a man in the 21st century? How are feminist issues relevant to men and boys? How can we engage in productive conversations about gender equality? These questions are being discussed more than ever.

Our monthly podcast delves into these issues with experts such as practitioners, activists and academics. In each episode, you’ll hear in-depth conversations about a wide-range of topics connected to masculinity and the lives of men and boys, such as preventing gender-based violence, promoting active fatherhood, and supporting men's health.

The podcast is hosted by two social science researchers, based on the opposite sides of the world: Sandy Ruxton from Durham University's Centre for Research into Violence and Abuse (UK) and Dr Stephen Burrell from the University of Melbourne (Australia). If you would like to give us your feedback, suggest a guest, or have a question you'd like us to discuss, get in touch at nowandmen@gmail.com. And if you like what we do, please share us with your friends, and leave a review on Apple podcasts!

Now and Men Sandy Ruxton & Stephen Burrell

    • Society & Culture

What's it like to be a man in the 21st century? How are feminist issues relevant to men and boys? How can we engage in productive conversations about gender equality? These questions are being discussed more than ever.

Our monthly podcast delves into these issues with experts such as practitioners, activists and academics. In each episode, you’ll hear in-depth conversations about a wide-range of topics connected to masculinity and the lives of men and boys, such as preventing gender-based violence, promoting active fatherhood, and supporting men's health.

The podcast is hosted by two social science researchers, based on the opposite sides of the world: Sandy Ruxton from Durham University's Centre for Research into Violence and Abuse (UK) and Dr Stephen Burrell from the University of Melbourne (Australia). If you would like to give us your feedback, suggest a guest, or have a question you'd like us to discuss, get in touch at nowandmen@gmail.com. And if you like what we do, please share us with your friends, and leave a review on Apple podcasts!

    Men in Politics as Agents of Gender Equitable Change - Dr Ján Michalko (ALiGN)

    Men in Politics as Agents of Gender Equitable Change - Dr Ján Michalko (ALiGN)

    Why do most men in politics avoid describing themselves and their politics as ‘feminist’? If they do support gender equality, why do they prefer instead to be called allies, advocates or supporters? What does this mean in practice for what men politicians do to promote women’s rights, and address harmful masculine norms? How are they seen by feminist activists, women politicians and young people? These are vital issues given the power men in politics have to drive (or obstruct) change towards gender equality and preventing violence against women. They are discussed in a forthcoming report by Dr Ján Michalko for ODI, a global affairs think tank, drawing on case studies by research teams in Colombia, Liberia and Malaysia. 
    We talk to Ján about the findings from the research, its implications for politicians, international donors, civil society and researchers on how to engage with men in positions of power, and what such men can do to promote the transformation of unequal gender norms, in politics and in wider society.
    Ján is a Research Fellow in Gender Equality and Social Inclusion at ODI. His research interests are in gender inequalities, political engagement, masculinities, feminist foreign policy, and youth. His work includes supporting the digital ALiGN platform at ODI, which brings together global gender norms research and lessons for transformative change: https://www.alignplatform.org
    Follow Ján on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ján-michalko-phd-54719251Twitter: https://x.com/MichalkoJanFollow ALiGN on Twitter: https://x.com/ALIGN_GenderODI website: https://odi.org/en/
    Read the reports: 
    The cross-country analysis: https://www.alignplatform.org/resources/report-men-politics-agents-gender-equitable-change-normsColombia: https://www.alignplatform.org/resources/report-male-politicians-gender-politics-colombiaLiberia: https://www.alignplatform.org/resources/report-unpacking-political-masculinities-liberiaMalaysia: https://www.alignplatform.org/resources/report-men-allies-shaping-gender-equitable-society-perspectives-malaysiaBlog: https://www.alignplatform.org/resources/blog-what-encourages-men-politics-be-allies-gender-equality
    Episode timeline:
    Intro (00:00-02:20)Why ALiGN wanted to research men in politics (02:20-05:35)The political context in Colombia, Liberia & Malaysia (05:35-08:53)Challenges of comparing across contexts (08:53-10:35)Interviewing men in politics (10:35-14:02)The reluctance of men politicians to take on the label...

    • 59 min
    Conflict, Peace-Building and Hope: Taking Boys Seriously in Northern Ireland - Dr Ken Harland

    Conflict, Peace-Building and Hope: Taking Boys Seriously in Northern Ireland - Dr Ken Harland

    Dr Ken Harland has been involved in youth work practice and research with boys and young men in Northern Ireland for the past 35 years. During that time, he has witnessed a transition from a culture in which violence and conflict was normalised, to one of peace-building and hope. But how were ‘The Troubles’ shaped by gender inequality? What impact did and does the conflict have on young men growing up, and on ideas of masculinity? How is it possible to reach disadvantaged boys and young men and help them find their voice in this context? And are there lessons for elsewhere from the political transformation of Northern Ireland towards peace?
    After being a community youth worker for 17 years, in 1996 Ken joined Ulster University and was co-founder and co-director of the ‘Centre for Young Men’s Studies’ there from 2005-2016. Since then he’s worked independently as a consultant, trainer, lecturer and researcher in youth and youth-related issues, and also works part-time as a Research Fellow and Consultant with Ulster University's longitudinal research initiative ‘Taking Boys Seriously’. In this episode, Ken talks movingly about his personal story, linking his early work experiences in the shipyards, to finding his passion in education, his relationship with his dad, and being a grandparent. 
    Follow Ken on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ken-harland-26b237b5/Read more of his research: https://pure.ulster.ac.uk/en/persons/ken-harlandCheck out his book, ‘Boys, Young Men and Violence: Masculinities, Education and Practice’ (2015): https://link.springer.com/book/10.1057/9781137297358 and recent journal articles...‘Taking Boys Seriously: A participatory action research initiative demonstrating the transformative potential of relational education’ (2024): https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/01425692.2024.2315121‘Embedding masculinities within a gender conscious relational pedagogy to transform education with boys experiencing compounded educational disadvantage’ (2024): https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14681366.2024.2301726
    We cover the following topics:
    Ken’s experience of living through The Troubles (01:14-05:22)The place of gender in conversations about transition away from conflict (05:22-08:45)How men were expected to be ‘defenders’ and ‘protectors’ (08:45-11:52)The dominance of the ‘cult of the hardman’ (11:52-15:34)Similarities and differences in masculine pressures in different contexts (15:34-18:36)The impact of the police and army as well as paramilitary organisations (18:36-20:17)Hopes for a better future despite the challenges (20:17-25:07)The experiences of women during The Troubles (25:07-26:59)What led Ken to work on masculinity issues (26:59-35:30)The establishment of the Centre for Young Men’s Studies in Belfast (35:30-40:59)Making sense of how masculinity influences young men's (and our own) lives (40:59-46:46)Taking Boys Seriously: The need for gender conscious relational pedagogy (46:46-48:33)Practical lessons from Ken’s work with boys (48:33-53:04)Conclusion: Moving away from a culture of violence; Challenging the notion that boys don’t talk; Social change in Northern Ireland,...

    • 1 hr
    Trauma, Loss, and Healing from Gun Violence for Young Black Men in the US – Dr Jocelyn Smith Lee

    Trauma, Loss, and Healing from Gun Violence for Young Black Men in the US – Dr Jocelyn Smith Lee

    The heavy toll of gun violence in the United States is having traumatising impacts on innumerable Black men and boys, many of whom will know one or more family members or friends who have died as a result. Yet there is widespread reluctance to consider the idea of vulnerability and victimisation among these young survivors. 
    In this episode, we hear from Dr Jocelyn Smith Lee, who has herself experienced personal loss from the violence, about her work in the cities of Greensboro and Baltimore to challenge dehumanising narratives of Black men and boys and ensure that their voices and experiences are central to efforts to tackle the violence. We also learn about community initiatives helping these men and boys and their families heal from trauma and loss. 
    Jocelyn is an Assistant Professor of Human Development and Family Studies at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. She is also the founder and director of the Centering Black Voices research lab, and the founder and project lead for the visual storytelling campaign ‘In All Ways Human’, which was originally funded by a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Grand Challenge Award.
    Find out more about Jocelyn’s research: https://www.uncg.edu/employees/jocelyn-smith-lee/LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jocelyn-r-smith-lee-ph-d-577b6015/Twitter: https://twitter.com/DrJocelynSmithIn All Ways Human campaign: https://inallwayshuman.comInstagram: https://www.instagram.com/inallwayshumanTwitter: https://twitter.com/InAllWaysHumanCentering Black Voices research lab: https://centeringblackvoices.comTwitter: https://twitter.com/CenterBLKVoices
    Topics we cover:
    The prevalence of gun violence in the US and its unequal impacts (01:12-04:26)The social contexts for Jocelyn’s research in Baltimore, MD and Greensboro, NC (04:26-08:47)The impacts of trauma and loss from gun violence on Black men and boys (08:47-14:57)(Limited) possibilities for turning points and perceived life expectancy (14:57-19:38)Why we are so reluctant to talk about vulnerability and victimisation among Black men (19:38-22:19)The ‘In All Ways Human’ campaign that Jocelyn has created (22:19-28:30)Telling a different, positive story, through the life-course (28:30-30:49)The effects that police violence has on Black men and boys and their families (30:49-37:08)Services which play a more positive role in their lives (37:08-42:02)How we can help Black men and boys to heal from this trauma and loss (42:02-46:29)The impacts of the violence on women and girls (46:29-48:50)The disproportionate responsibility placed on Black women (48:50-50:22)The recent reduction in homicides in Baltimore, and achieving political change (50:22-55:05)Conclusion (55:05-01:01:14), including: The shocking scale of the homicides, from a young age; How masculine norms can obstruct men from talking about fear and grief; Links with episode 38...

    • 1 hr 1 min
    Embracing 'Discomfort' in Work with Men - Dr Nate Eisenstadt

    Embracing 'Discomfort' in Work with Men - Dr Nate Eisenstadt

    What is 'discomfort', and how can we engage effectively with men when they display it in conversations about masculinity, gender equality and violence? How can connecting with discomfort help to change harmful attitudes and behaviours? What are the risks and challenges in embracing discomfort, and how can they be dealt with? These issues are at the core of our discussion with Dr Nate Eisenstadt, drawing on his extensive experience of facilitating and researching bystander intervention and domestic violence perpetrator programmes in the UK.
    We also explore the training room as a microcosm of wider society, and how discomfort and fear are often weaponised by public figures to promote damaging, polarising responses to complex real-world problems. Drawing on his earlier research on contemporary anarchist practices, Nate reflects on the challenges and potential of community-based transformative (as opposed to punitive) approaches to ending gender-based violence.
    Nate is a Senior Research Associate at the University of Bristol in the UK, in their Medical School’s Domestic Violence and Health Group, and the Co-Director of Kindling Interventions, which delivers bystander leadership programmes for violence prevention, equality and diversity.
    Find out more about Nate’s research: https://research-information.bris.ac.uk/en/persons/nathan-eisenstadtLinkedIn: https://linkedin.com/in/nathan-eisenstadt/Kindling Interventions: https://kindling-interventions.com/Twitter: https://twitter.com/KindlingIntervLinkedIn: https://linkedin.com/company/kindling-interventions/
    We cover the following topics:
    The 'bystander leadership' training that Nate is delivering (01:31-05:16)Why he and Dr Rachel Fenton set up Kindling Interventions (05:16-09:03)Advantages and challenges with the bystander intervention approach (09:03-16:27)Different ways in which 'discomfort' can surface in this work (16:27-22:39)How to respond to discomfort when engaging with men and boys (22:39-30:57)The role of skilled facilitation (30:57-33:39)Facilitators’ own experiences of discomfort (33:39-37:24)How discomfort links to the backlash against feminism in wider society (37:24-42:46)Vital ingredients for impactful work with men who've perpetrated abuse (42:46-48:55)How this research links with Nate’s work on anarchist and anti-oppressive organising (48:55-52:06)Key tenets of anarchism and links with community accountability (52:06-53:58)Conclusion (53:58-59:54): Overlaps with Jens van Tricht's episode; the value of uncomfortable conversations; shifts in work with men who've used violence; the resonance of Nate's work with wider political polarisation; and anarchism and mutual aid.
    Further reading:
    The Intervention Initiative: https://law.exeter.ac.uk/research/interventioninitiative/Rachel Fenton, Helen Mott et al. (2016) A review of evidence for bystander intervention to prevent sexual and domestic violence in universities (Public Health England): a...

    • 59 min
    Masculinity, Meat-Eating, and Vegan Men - Dr Kadri Aavik Revisited

    Masculinity, Meat-Eating, and Vegan Men - Dr Kadri Aavik Revisited

    Now and Men is taking a break until February 2024, so in the meantime, to coincide with Veganuary and a new campaign called 'Vegan and Thriving' from the UK Vegan Society, we revisit episode 29 from June 2023, where we discussed masculinity and veganism with Dr Kadri Aavik.
    Between 2016 and 2020, the number of vegans in Europe has doubled from 1.3 million to 2.6 million. More and more people are questioning the consumption of meat and dairy for ethical, environmental and health reasons. The majority are women, but a significant number of men are vegans, too – and over 30% of Europeans say they are consciously eating less meat. In this episode, we explore men’s experiences and motivations for becoming vegan and how they deal with masculine expectations about food. Veganism and vegetarianism are sometimes portrayed as ‘unmanly’ and effeminate, whilst meat-eating is often associated with strength and virility. The meat and dairy industries are also major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions – might the climate crisis and increasing recognition of the harms caused by these industries be leading to changes in the behaviours of some men?
    Dr Kadri Aavik is an Associate Professor of Gender Studies at Tallinn University, Estonia. Kadri has written a book about her research in Estonia and Finland, ‘Contesting Anthropocentric Masculinities through Veganism: Lived Experiences of Vegan Men’ (Palgrave Macmillan, 2023). Research for the book was conducted as part of the project ‘Climate Sustainability in the Kitchen: Everyday Food Cultures in Transition’ (University of Helsinki, 2018-2022), funded by the Kone Foundation: https://www.helsinki.fi/en/projects/climate-sustainability-kitchen   
    Buy Kadri’s book: https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-3-031-19507-5Find out more about her research: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Kadri-Aavik and https://www.etis.ee/CV/Kadri_Aavik/eng
    Topics covered:
    Why food and eating are gendered (02:38-05:02)How to define veganism (05:02-06:49)Kadri’s research with vegan men in Estonia and Finland (06:49-09:41)Men’s motivations for becoming vegan (09:41-11:20)Kadri’s personal relationship with veganism (11:20-13:33)The connections between meat-eating and masculinity (13:33-15:02)Gendered differences in diets (15:02-17:14)Men’s engagement in household cooking (17:14-21:32)Navigating family relationships as a vegan (21:32-23:32)The influence of patriarchy on human relations with other animals (23:32-27:42)What this has to do with climate change and ‘Anthropocentric masculinities’ (27:42-32:10)Barriers to veganism for men (32:10-37:33)The different contexts of veganism in Estonia and Finland (37:33-41:39)The extent to which veganism is a ‘privileged’ phenomenon (41:39-44:35)Achieving institutional as well as individual change (44:35-48:48)Veganism as a form of activism, not just a ‘lifestyle choice’ (48:48-50:45)Impacts of veganism on men’s relationships (50:45-54:12)
    More info: 
    Veganuary (where people try being vegan throughout January) - https://veganuary.comThe UK Vegan Society - a href="https://www.vegansociety.com/" rel="noopener noreferrer"...

    • 1 hr 3 min
    Masculinity and Memoir - Blake Morrison on Family Life

    Masculinity and Memoir - Blake Morrison on Family Life

    Blake Morrison’s award-winning, bestselling memoir ‘And When Did You Last See Your Father?’ is an honest and intimate portrait of family life, father-son relations, and the impact of bereavement. Since it came out in 1993, Blake has continued to revisit his family’s past through ‘Things My Mother Never Told Me’ (2002), and is ‘still working things out’ in his poignant recent book ‘Two Sisters’, about his sister Gill and half-sister Josie, published earlier this year.
    In this episode, Blake reads extracts from ‘Two Sisters’ and ‘And When Did You Last See Your Father?’, and we explore with him key themes in his work, including: sibling relationships; family secrets; men controlling women; male violence; transitions in father-son relations; youthful rebellion, and becoming a man. We also discuss issues around men, emotion and grief, the genres of ‘sib-lit’ and ‘dad-lit’, and the impact of feminism on Blake’s own development and writing. 
    As well as a memoirist, Blake is a poet, novelist, and journalist. His published work includes the poetry collections ‘Dark Glasses’, ‘The Ballad of the Yorkshire Ripper’ and ‘Shingle Street’, and most recently, ‘Skin and Blister’, and four novels, including ‘The Last Weekend’ and ‘The Executor’. He’s a regular literary critic for the Guardian newspaper and the London Review of Books, and is Professor Emeritus of creative and life writing at Goldsmiths University. Born in Yorkshire, he has lived in South London for many years. 
    Find out more about Blake: https://blakemorrison.netMore info about ‘Two Sisters’: https://www.boroughpress.co.uk/products/two-sisters-blake-morrison-9780008510527/‘Things My Mother Never Told Me’ https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/357294/things-my-mother-never-told-me-by-morrison-blake/9780099440727‘And When Did You Last See Your Father?’: https://granta.com/products/and-when-did-you-last-see-your-father/Blake’s ‘Top 10 books about fathers and sons’: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2022/nov/02/top-10-books-about-fathers-and-sons-blake-morrison-and-when-did-you-last-see-your-father
    We cover the following in this episode:
    Reading from 'Two Sisters' (01:24-06:42)Blake’s motivations for writing the book (06:42-08:14)Why brothers don’t write about sisters (08:14-10:12)Examples of ‘sib-lit’ (10:12-11:47)The impact of alcoholism on Gill (11:47-13:46)Alcoholism and gender (13:46-16:04)Male violence and the efforts of adults to hide it (16:04-19:18)The significance of women in Blake’s life (19:18-21:02)The supposed stability of 1950s/60s family life (21:02-22:22)Reading from ‘And When Did you Last See Your Father?' (22:22-26:09)Why the book was so successful (26:09-27:47)The extent to which Blake’s portrayal of fatherhood was culturally specific (27:47-30:21)‘Dad-lit’ and other authors to read on father-son relations (30:21-32:28)Shifts in Blake’s relationship with his dad and how he saw him (32:28-34:41)Blake’s capacity for writing...

    • 1 hr

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