Sociology of Masculinities

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    • 00:06

      [Sociology of Masculinities]

    • 00:10

      ALAN SALEH: I'm Alan Saleh, and I'ma lead facilitator for the Alternatives To ViolenceProject. [Alan Saleh, Lead Facilitator,Alternatives To Violence Project]What we do principally is to run a course over a weekend.We call it a workshop, and its aimis to teach people the skills that theyneed to be able to deal with their own or other people's

    • 00:32

      ALAN SALEH [continued]: anger or violence.In practice, anybody over the age of 18can access the AVP workshops.Generally speaking, it's those whoare aware that they have a particular needto be able to deal with issues that are preventing them

    • 00:52

      ALAN SALEH [continued]: from forming good relationships.And it may be that somebody else--could be social services, could be a partner, a parentor something-- recognizes that there's a needand will say, look, I think you oughtto do one of these courses because it will help you to beable to deal with your anger, or somebody else who is taking

    • 01:13

      ALAN SALEH [continued]: advantage of you, and you need to beable to bring it to a stop.In understanding our own feelings,there we can also realize that if wehave a conflict with somebody else,that they also have this iceberg.And if we can begin to think about whattheir unmet needs, fears, and emotions are,

    • 01:37

      ALAN SALEH [continued]: then we can help to resolve-- it will help usin being able to resolve differences between us.

    • 01:42

      SPEAKER 1: Put yourself in their shoes.

    • 01:43

      ALAN SALEH: Absolutely, Yeah.

    • 01:45

      SPEAKER 1: Yeah.Absolutely.Remember that we're all icebergs walking around.And sometimes that can change on a daily basis, you know.Sometimes it can feel actually--

    • 01:54

      SPEAKER 3: [INAUDIBLE] someone else's iceberg if you[INAUDIBLE].

    • 01:59

      SPEAKER 1: That's why it's important to respectpeople and expect the best right from the start, I guess.

    • 02:03

      SPEAKER 3: But what if you don't get no respect from the start,though?

    • 02:05

      ALAN SALEH: These things will come.If you expect from day one to be able to look into somebody'seyes and say, I know exactly whatyour iceberg looks like, that isn't going to happen.

    • 02:14

      SPEAKER 1: And also, I think that's a really good point,what you said.Many years ago, I did not value myself at alland let anybody talk to me any way.And what I've learned is this-- if I meet somebody now,and they did not treat me with respect,then I don't meet them again.I choose to stay away from that person.

    • 02:34

      SPEAKER 1 [continued]: Because I want people around me thatare going to value me and make me feel--

    • 02:38

      SPEAKER 3: You don't want negative people around you.

    • 02:40

      ALAN SALEH: [INAUDIBLE]The people in the film were fairly representativeof a typical AVP workshop.So some women who are affected by violence,but the majority of people coming on the workshop are men,and typically they're being accused--

    • 03:03

      ALAN SALEH [continued]: or they may have actually been violent towards a partner,or their anger is out of control and they've been told theyneed to find ways of dealing with that.So typically we will get men in their 20s and 30s.

    • 03:24

      ALAN SALEH [continued]: Occasionally we do get older men, and some of themwere in the film.And we'll get women who either have been-- violencehas been perpetrated against themand they need to develop their strategies for dealingwith that, or else they are provoking men to be violent,

    • 03:52

      ALAN SALEH [continued]: or they may even be passive aggressive and beingviolent towards their partners.And that's not uncommon, particularlyif it's associated with drink.One of the main reasons why men come on the workshopis because they're being denied access to their children.And while they may actively dislike their partner

    • 04:14

      ALAN SALEH [continued]: for doing that, it isn't necessarilyhelpful to display that anger towards their partnerin terms of having that access to their children.So the men need to-- they will be instructedto come on the course as a means of demonstrating that theyare in the process of changing, but also so that they can

    • 04:37

      ALAN SALEH [continued]: develop their own strategies to be able to buildrelationships-- A, with the child, and B,with their former partner.Because they have to be able to establish a give and takerelationship that can be on a professional levelso that they can have access to their children

    • 04:58

      ALAN SALEH [continued]: without a great deal of animosity.And the kinds of skills that we're teaching-- negotiationand compromise-- will be the sorts of thingsthat we would be working on towards the endof the workshop.But it may be self-esteem or listening or the abilityto cooperate.These are the kinds of things that we're

    • 05:18

      ALAN SALEH [continued]: helping them to learn when they come on the workshop.I think, in many ways, society doesn'trespond very well to the kinds of issuesthat we're working on.I'm becoming more aware that manyof the people who come on the workshopshave a fairly poor level of education.

    • 05:39

      ALAN SALEH [continued]: That means that they're often marginalized within society,and they find it very hard to form stable relationshipsbecause of their lack of economic benefitin the partnership.So that means that they may very wellhave a number of children by different partners,and none of whom they have a stable relationship with.

    • 06:01

      ALAN SALEH [continued]: And they just drift from relationship to relationship,and the only anchor is the childrenwho they would like to have a relationship with, but veryoften find very difficult because their lives arequite chaotic at times.

    • 06:19

      SPEAKER 5: We don't want to be the aggressive person.We definitely don't want to be that.We don't want to be passive, because usually that leads usto depression in the end.Do you know what I mean?Because we internalize all that negativity.It just stays there.We don't want to be passive aggressive.We want to be--

    • 06:35

      GROUP: Assertive.

    • 06:37


    • 06:38

      SPEAKER 5: Yes.And move things forward when we develop our relationships.I believe that the more we're able to live in this space,we change the space for others too.And that's what helps our lives get better.We're not just individuals.We're not islands.Actually learning to be assertivehelps others to care and love for themselves too.

    • 06:58

      SPEAKER 5 [continued]: OK?

    • 06:59

      ALAN SALEH: If you recognize that-- wesay there are four different types of behavior.So a passive person is somebody who is dominated by othersand has no self determination, so allows other peopleto decide what they're going to do,where they might go-- to the cinema--or what they might eat, what they might wear, and so on.

    • 07:20

      ALAN SALEH [continued]: And we say that that is allowing othersto be violent towards them and somethingwe want to discourage.Then there is aggressive behavior, which is fairlytypically associated with men, where they just stand insomebody's face and say, this is what I want,and I'm not interested in you, but you will do what I want.And then there's passive aggressive

    • 07:41

      ALAN SALEH [continued]: where somebody will not openly be aggressive,but will work behind the scenes to get what they want.And so they may use gossip, or theymay undermine the person's self worth in orderto get what they think they need.And finally there's assertive behavior,

    • 08:01

      ALAN SALEH [continued]: and we want to encourage everybodyto be assertive because that's the only kind of behavior whichis non violent.And this just means saying who you are, what your need is,and asking for the other person's view,and to help you to get what your needs are.So by doing that, people can avoid violence

    • 08:24

      ALAN SALEH [continued]: and lead a happier life.I think we've been saying that assertive-- and assertiveperson will say, I'm OK, and you're OK.

    • 08:34

      SPEAKER 5: Yes.

    • 08:35

      ALAN SALEH: A passive aggressive person will say, I'm OK,and I'm going to pretend you're OK, but you're not really.And the passive person will say, you're OK, I'm not.And the aggressive person will say, I'm OK, and you're not.It helps you to be able to characterize and understand

    • 08:56

      ALAN SALEH [continued]: these different kinds of behaviors.I think that violence is more associated with masculinitybecause it's very visible.So if I punch somebody in the faceand they've got a black eye, everybody can see that.Whereas more typically, a woman that wants to be violent

    • 09:22

      ALAN SALEH [continued]: will often use words and will workto undermine the confidence of her partnerin order to be able to exercise control.And that's very difficult to see.But the reaction in masculinity termsis often to use violence as a way

    • 09:44

      ALAN SALEH [continued]: of countering that negativity.So we can see one form of violence.We may not be able to see or appreciatethe other kind of violence.But I think they're equally as hurtful,and we need to tackle both types of violence.In our workshops what we try to show

    • 10:06

      ALAN SALEH [continued]: is that violence is not just physical, and emotionaland verbal violence is equally harmful.And this often comes as a revelation.So for instance, when participants understandthat shouting at somebody can be a form of violence,

    • 10:28

      ALAN SALEH [continued]: then they suddenly see things thatare happening around them and thingsthat they do as being violent-- whereas in the pastthey wouldn't have recognized them as violent.I think approximately two thirds of the people whoattend the workshops are men.That's changed over the years.It used to be much more 50-50, I would say.

    • 10:50

      ALAN SALEH [continued]: And I think that that change is because, certainly for us,more people are being sponsored by social servicesto come on our workshops, and they tend to see violencein terms of male behavior not recognizing that whenit's women's behavior as well, but either

    • 11:13

      ALAN SALEH [continued]: as victim or perpetrator.Because what we're saying is, you shouldn't ignore the anger.Don't ignore it.But if you internalized it.If you say, I'm angry because-- and youdon't do anything about that anger, then it eats into you.

    • 11:35

      ALAN SALEH [continued]: Until-- it will either destroy youbecause you just focus on it all the time,or else you then seek revenge, and you say,right, I'm going to find a time and a placewhen I can dig the knife into that person and hurt them.So what you need to do is to be able to tackle the anger,but not when you are so up there that the result is

    • 11:59

      ALAN SALEH [continued]: going that you be that you make a mess of it.In terms of men's behavior, I thinkone of the things that's really crucialis that the team are very respectful.We know nothing about the backgrounds of the people whocome on the workshop, and so we start off

    • 12:20

      ALAN SALEH [continued]: by being respectful and expecting them to be respectfulback to us.Because we're not labeling them.Very often, when they've been dealing with professionalsthroughout their adult lives, they've been labeled,and people have said, oh yes, I know who youare even before I've met you.

    • 12:40

      ALAN SALEH [continued]: And we're quite determined that we won't do that.And by showing them respect and demonstrating respectbetween members of the team, then we'regiving them a different role modelso that they can see people behavingin a completely different way.And the workshop is concentrated over a weekend.And that means that we form a community,

    • 13:04

      ALAN SALEH [continued]: and we're deliberately trying to demonstrate that peoplecan care for each other within a relativelyshort period of time.If they feel that they're valued and trusted,then they will demonstrate these values back to us.And that helps enormously.Men's perceptions of themselves are affectedby attending a workshop.

    • 13:25

      ALAN SALEH [continued]: I recognize that straight away.When you see them at the start of a workshop on a Fridayevening, they're looking around apprehensive.What's going to happen, what am I going to have to reveal,am I in the right place and so on.And by Sunday afternoon, they're as happy as anything.They're often swapping phone numbersand recognizing that whatever problems they have,

    • 13:49

      ALAN SALEH [continued]: there are others in the world who have very similar problemsand they can actually help each other.So it lifts their self esteem.That's the most obvious gain from attending the workshop.But I think also the fact that they've gained so many skillsthat they can use in order to be able to dealwith the problems which they have,which are very real to them.I rarely meet a participant after a workshop,

    • 14:12

      ALAN SALEH [continued]: but there was one occasion-- I've done workshops in prison,and in this particular prison I was also a prison visitor.So I got to meet somebody who'd been on the workshopjust a week or so before.And what he told me was that he was on the phone talkingto his wife, and then a fellow prisoner camealong, and snatched the phone out of his hand, and said,

    • 14:33

      ALAN SALEH [continued]: you've had too long.I want to make a phone call now.And he said, in the past, he would have been really violenttowards this other prisoner, but on this occasion he justlet him have his way.And afterwards, the other prisoner came up to himand just apologized and said, I shouldn't have done that.And he recognized that by instead

    • 14:55

      ALAN SALEH [continued]: of getting really angry and violent--he'd just let it go-- everything had worked out fine.And I'm sure that sort of thing is happening all the time.Once people realize that they can control their anger,get what they need out of life without necessarily flying offthe handle.

Sociology of Masculinities

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Alan Saleh manages a workshop series to teach alternatives to violence in relationships and daily life. He provides a view into the workshops. and describes his attendees and the process used in the sessions.

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Sociology of Masculinities

Alan Saleh manages a workshop series to teach alternatives to violence in relationships and daily life. He provides a view into the workshops. and describes his attendees and the process used in the sessions.

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