Understanding masculinity from a sociological perspective

November 25th was International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women this year. Part of moving towards a more equitable and safe future for all humans is to increase awareness of and reduce stigma around the violence faced by women around the world. That includes understanding how violence pervades cultures in subtle, as well as obvious ways. Movements like that of Me Too in the United States have brought conversations around everyday violence into public cultural conversations this year. Understanding how power structures, violence, and gender relate to each other can effect change.

Just one year ago when news of Harvey Weinstein and the actions of other powerful men across industries broke, Google searches related to toxic and healthy masculinity spiked. So when a sociologist in one of our professional development courses decided to improve the Wikipedia article about masculinity as part of our course just a few months later, the article was receiving around one thousand pageviews a day. Dr. Michael Ramirez took a sociologist’s lens to his article improvements and included more information about how conceptions of masculinity have changed over time and how they differ based on cultural context. Understanding how identity forms, the pressures people feel to conform to certain definitions of identity, and how the forces influencing identity can be toxic are each important for reducing the power of toxic expressions of masculinity. And that allows for more people to live safe, healthy lives without perpetuating or experiencing violence.

“We are ‘experts’ and as such, we should use our expertise for the greater good,” writes American Sociological Association member Dr. Ramirez in a reflection about his course experience. “Sociological perspectives are far too often overlooked in the creation of knowledge and understanding of world issues. We can partly remedy this situation by actively incorporating our knowledge into public venues such as Wikipedia.”

We are currently accepting applicants for an upcoming professional development course beginning in January, which will train scholars of diverse backgrounds to improve Wikipedia’s coverage of the history of women’s voting rights. For more information and to apply, visit: bit.ly/NARAwiki

Header image: File:Herakles Farnese MAN Napoli Inv6001 n01.jpg, Farnese Collection, Marie-Lan Nguyen, CC BY 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons.


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