Centre for Women's and Gender Research

SKOK-seminar: Threatening Masculinities – Threatening Men

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Centre for Women's and Gender Research (SKOK) intends, as part of the strategic plans for the centre, to build its competence on research on masculinities in the years to come. For a long time we have wanted to organize a seminar on masculinities to mark the start of this research area at SKOK.

Then July 22nd happened in Norway, an event that has set the agenda for researchers as well as for society at large. How could this happen? What made such atrocities possible? In the wake of the terror attack, public debate has pondered these very questions. Some researchers have attempted to analyze the ideological rationale behind these horrific acts, while others, especially on the internet, have overtly supported Anders Behring Breivik and what they call his herioic actions in the cultural war against multiculturalism, islam and feminism. One of our researchers at SKOK was in that context threatened on Korsfarer.no for being a supporter of multiculturalism and for being a gender researcher. In October, SKOK organized an open panel at the University of Bergen entitled “Gender in the Age of Terror,” where we invited, among others, a male master student from our university who publicly hailed Anders Behring Breivik for “his ability to act”. On his anti-feminist blog, he claims that rape – and in some cases murder - are legitimate means to combat a state, which supports gender equality.  

In light of the gender ideology expressed in Anders Behring Breivik’s manifest as well as in related right-wing extremist publications, we want to raise the question of masculinity as an integrated element in the ideological framework of these right-wing extremist groups. Michael Kimmel has already (in an article published in Dagbladet this fall) called attention to the fact that it is a question of gender ideology. The tragic events are partly the results of the celebration of certain forms of masculinities within these movements.

But we ask: What happens when we take into account these extreme views and their relation to a much widespread, but still the same ideology, in a more palpable form? In many discussions in the media we recognize somewhat modified, but still related attitudes. The battle over masculinity is what is at stake. And it is perhaps at the heart of the cultural conflict?

SKOK wants to investigate some of the reasons for this state of affairs and some of the ramifications of cultivating certain masculinities ideals, while denigrating others. The seminar Threatening masculinity – Threatening men aims not exclusively at focusing on the extreme right and its masculinity ideals which certainly pose a concrete threat to society, but it also aims to throw light on various forms of masculinity that are considered to be a treat in the sense that they threaten normalized conceptions of masculinity, such as queer masculinities, non-white masculinities, etc.

To discuss some of these questions we have invited the following:

Professor Jeff Hearn, Linköpings universitet, Sweden
Professor Carlos Decena, WGS, Rutgers University, USA 
Post doctoral Fellow Linn Sandberg, Linköping Universitet, Sweden
Professor Ezra Chitando, University of Zimbabwe
Phd-student Mathias Danbolt, Universitetet i Bergen, Norway
Phd-student Fredrik Langeland, Universitetet i Stavanger, Norway
Phd-student Tobias Raun, Roskilde Universitetscenter, Denmark

The seminar is open to all.