Convention cancellations across the world rocked the games industry this year. In the era of COVID-19, gamers and developers alike have had to find new and creative ways of coming together to play games, share their stories, and shine a light on the opportunities the industry has to make positive, collaborative change.
In lieu of PAX West, PAX Australia, and EGX — three of the biggest games conventions in the world, cancelled this year because of COVID-19 — PAX Online offers 12 days of nonstop, 24-hour gaming content, streamed through the PAX website. From September 12 to September 20, the online event provides all the fun of panels, workshops, game demos, competitions, and more, from the comfort of our living rooms instead of the aggressively air conditioned convention halls. Even more exciting, the event is completely free, bringing the convention experience to an enormous international community of gamers, developers, and funders.
“We’re gonna get it done.” These were some of the first words spoken by Vice Presidential Candidate Kamala Harris in her phenomenal half-hour interview with Errin Haines, Editor-at-Large for the 19th, during the 19th Represents Summit on Friday. Harris’s plans to “get it done” refer to the upcoming Presidential election, and her goal to join Joe Biden in leading the U.S. out of one of its worst crisis periods in history.
Haines began the interview by asking what it was like for Kamala Harris to be in competition with women she respected and worked with, other candidates who were running for President and were in the lead to be asked to fill Biden’s ticket for the Vice President spot.
The landmark selection of Harris as Joe Biden’s running mate in the 2020 election represents a huge win for diversity in politics. What’s more, Harris represents the positive impact of campaigning, fundraising, and donating in the world of feminist philanthropy.
Harris’s own presidential campaign says a lot about what we can do with feminist funding for political campaigns. Her decision to eschew funding from PAcs likely played a major role in her eventual drop from the 2020 race, but her commitment to funding sources outside the norm of American political campaign speaks to just how far we can go with feminist funding.
In the midst of so much chaos and uncertainty, it’s inspiring when companies gather their resources to support small business. Through its upcoming project Your Friends in New York, apparel brand Pyer Moss has announced $10,000 in PPE funding and $100,000 in funding for women- and minority-owned small businesses through the Your Friends in New York Business Relief Fund. Grants from the fund will be presented to creative-based businesses struggling to stay open in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.
“For our friends with independent businesses,” wrote Pyer Moss in an Instagram announcement on March 18. “We are setting aside $50,000 for minority and women owned small creative businesses who are currently in distress. If you cannot make payroll or cannot cover pressing costs to keep your business afloat, please reach out, let us know what you do and how we can help.”
For those naysayers who think #MeToo is a passing fad with no effect on society, a CBS poll has news for you. Men, and particularly young men, have been moved to rethink how they behave toward women since #MeToo and Time’s Up came to town.
More than half (52%) of young men age 18-29 say that these movements have caused them to rethink their own behavior, and 36% of young men say they’re talking about the issue now more than ever.
Overall, 63% of Americans believe these movements have been instrumental in raising awareness about sexual harassment.
For women in philanthropy looking to influence gender equality movements, this CBS News poll provides important ideas for how to direct strategy in order to impact sexual harassment and gender-based violence.
Members of the feminist giving community: An upcoming webinar co-led by Helen LaKelly Hunt could be the perfect opportunity to learn some new skills for healthier relationships.
Relationships First and the Center for Partnership Studies (CPS) are joining forces next month for Safe Conversations: Shifting from Domination to Partnership in Relationship. Held 11:00 – 12:30 PR (2:00 – 3:30 ET) on Thursday, September 12th, 2019, this FREE webinar focuses on the ways people can improve their relationships through quality communication skills.
A powerful tool to increase gender equity and strengthen families is to expand paternity leave, giving men greater attachment and involvement with their young children, and lessening the burden on women.
Dove Men+Care, in partnership with the global gender justice organization Promundo, is studying the impact of paternity leave on gender equality, and revealing the many benefits that accrue to employers, parents and society when men have greater access to paid leave and participate more fully in child rearing. (The article “Why championing paternity leave empowers men, women and business,” appearing on the Unilever website, summarizes some of these findings).
On May 9th, during the final stop of the tour for Melinda Gates’ new book, The Moment of Lift, audience members in Seattle got a surprise video visit from former President Barack Obama.
In an introductory speech that shocked Melinda herself, her husband Bill Gates revealed that he had been unsure how best to introduce Melinda for the most important event of her tour, so he began “secretly scheming” with the former President to decide on the best method — and posted their “brainstorming” session on Twitter.
A great deal of emphasis in feminist philanthropy is placed on women, and changing the role of women in society. But what about men? What role can men play in challenging gender norms, and what initiatives are gender equality organizations taking to reach men?
To further explore these questions, I spoke to Giovanna Lauro, Vice President of Programs and Research at Promundo, by telephone from her D.C. office. Promundo was founded in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil in 1997, working with young men in Rio’s poorest communities on transforming gender norms and concepts of masculinity. It has since taken that approach far beyond Brazil, and its website notes, “Promundo works to promote gender equality and create a world free from violence by engaging men and boys in partnership with women and girls.”
The organization’s expansion from the global South to global North makes it an anomaly, as many NGOs start in wealthy countries and then move into less developed nations. Regardless, Lauro says that there is a commonality to the organization’s work, wherever it takes place, namely, “a frustration with the limits of putting the burden of change on women and girls only.” One can work to empower women and girls all one wants, but it’s a tough mandate without change occurring among the other half of the population.
Promundo’s Washington, D.C. office opened in 2011, allowing the organization to expand its reach globally to more than 40 nations. To date, Promundo’s projects and technical assistance have reached roughly 10 million individuals, including over 4,500 health professionals, 22,000 educators, 1,400 members of the police and military, and 300 government officials.
The emphasis on masculinities—what it means to be a man—separates Promundo from many NGOs in the gender-equity field. Lauro argues that continued female empowerment requires men and boys to see themselves as allies and partners, not adversaries. Moreover, change is not a zero-sum game; men and boys also gain in many ways when rigid attitudes toward gender are challenged.
Promundo’s “Manhood 2.0” project, developed in conjunction with the University of Pittsburgh, aims to prevent teen dating violence by engaging young males aged 15-24 in understanding the effects of harmful gender norms. Manhood 2.0 is modelled on Promundo’s Program H (named after homens and hombres, the Portuguese and Spanish words for men) which launched in 2002. Employed by Promundo and its partners in 34 countries worldwide, Program H is based on research with young Brazilian men who exhibited more gender-equitable attitudes than others in their demographic cohort. Men expressing less rigid attitudes around gender roles typically have peer group support in this area, positive personal experiences around gender equality, and male role models who express support for gender equality.
Stereotypical and rigidly enforced conceptions of gender are toxic to all. Statistics indicate the high rate of male violence against women, but it’s not as if men are untouched by violence. They are twice as likely as women to die of suicide, and comprise over three-quarters of homicide victims in the U.S. The large number of male lives lost in wars and other armed conflicts goes without saying. Research by Promundo and other organizations indicates that many of these negative outcomes have their basis in overly rigid conceptions of masculinity. Promundo’s report “Masculine Norms and Violence: Making the Connections” explores this relationship.
Engaging Men Through Pre-Natal Programs and Soccer
Engaging with young men in the U.S. and abroad around harmful gender norms is a noble goal, but how does one lead the male horse to the trough of gender equity? Firstly, Promundo identifies local partners who can make a difference. “Find a facilitator who believes in what they preach,” says Lauro, “someone who has shown a commitment or potential for working for gender equality.” Next, she says, it’s vital to “incorporate contextual intervention” in recruiting and retaining participants. In other words, don’t place an announcement for a gender-equity workshop in the local paper and expect men to rush the doors. Lauro notes two specific angles that Promundo has tried: fatherhood and soccer.
In Chile (and other locales) sessions on gender norms have been rolled into pre-natal programs for first-time dads. Fatherhood, family, child-rearing and gender norms are intertwined, and Lauro notes that a group for expectant fathers can function as “a place where men can have meaningful discussion around gender and express themselves in a safe space.” Promundo is a sponsor of the State of the World’s Fathers report series examining men’s contributions to parenting and caregiving globally. These are published as part of the Men Care (“a global fatherhood campaign”) which Promundo co-founded and coordinates.
Sports is another approach used by Promundo to recruit young men to explore gender-equity and masculinity. The study “Engaging men to prevent gender-based violence” sponsored by Promundo and the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women documents a Brazilian program that used soccer to engage men around the issue of gender-based violence. According to the report, “Sports, particularly weekly football (soccer) matches were used as a venue for dialogue and an opportunity to convey the themes of the workshops.” The same report also details programs aimed at understanding and combating gender-based violence that were organized around the workplace (Rwanda), the health sector (Chile), and the community (India). Regardless of the setting, scale or target of the intervention, “We focus on building local partnerships with local organizations,” says Lauro.
The only places where Promundo implements projects directly using its own staff is on its home turf of Brazil, the United States, and in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where in 2014 Promundo co-founded the NGO Living Peace with local partners. In Eastern DRC, Promundo has worked to promote gender equity in the wake of a brutal conflict which resulted in millions of people being injured, killed, and displaced. The DRC is notable for a very high level of sexual violence, not just as part of the armed conflict, but also in the home and elsewhere. Promundo’s outreach has sought to combat the prevalence of attitudes and practices, including ones about masculinity, which had embedded gender violence so deeply in that society. “We take into account trauma and how this affects behavior,” says Lauro.
Measuring Concrete Change
Promoting gender equity is not easy, and approaches must vary. She notes that sometimes norms change, and then drive a change in behavior. Other times a behavior—which might be encouraged by a public policy like parental leave for both women and men—can produce a change in attitudes, which subsequently influences behavior, and so on. It is not always easy to separate cause and effect. Regardless, the Italian-born Lauro, who has a Ph.D. in political science from Oxford, and previously served as Associate Director of the Women and Population Programme on behalf of the United Nations Foundation, believes in the power of research. “Our goal is to ensure that we can measure concrete change around attitudes, behaviors and norms,” she says.
To this end, Promundo and the International Center for Research on Women have created the International Men and Gender Equality Survey (IMAGES). This household survey probes men’s and women’s practices and attitudes around gender norms, gender-equality policies, care-work distribution, intimate partner violence, health, economic stress and other issues facing women, men, and families. As of 2017, notes Lauro, IMAGES and IMAGES-inspired studies have been administered to more than 40,000 men and 20,000 women in nearly 40 countries. Moreover, Lauro describes the IMAGES survey as an “open source” tool which “can be used by local organizations to inform their own work.”
Promundo uses research not just to take the temperature of a given community regarding gender-equity, sexual violence and other topics, but also to evaluate whether the programs that it and its partners sponsor are having an impact. Do they really produce a change in attitudes and practices? How, I wondered, can one know if a program simply teaches its participants to talk a good game about gender equity to researchers, but leave the reality unchanged?
Lauro notes that a rigorous attempt to gauge the impact of programs and interventions requires more than asking participants easily-answered questions. “From our research, we know that when we word questions in the positive, everyone answers the politically correct ‘yes.’” In other words, asking, “Do you support equality between men and women?” is likely to elicit positive answers, but more authentic responses come from creative questions. “For example,” says Lauro, “we don’t ask ‘have you ever beaten your partner?’ Instead, we ask, ‘how often have you beaten your partner?’” The idea is to remove the cues that would push respondents toward the “correct” response. Furthermore, says Lauro, to corroborate the trends highlighted in men’s responses, women are surveyed as well to find out if they have noticed a reduction in violence. Finally, notes Lauro, “At times we employ a control group which helps isolate the impact of the intervention.” This commitment to research has helped Promundo weed out or modify interventions which have been ineffective in promoting change.
Lauro has a long history of work in this area, including her Ph.D. thesis, which addressed the double standard of European governments toward the global South on harmful gender norms. The Europeans would advocate for women’s rights in Africa or Asia, but at home would use contentious gender issues as a wedge to demonize or punish immigrant communities rather than protect women. Lauro recommends that issues such as child or forced marriage, wherever it occurs, be “framed first and foremost as a human rights issue rather than a cultural practice.”
Promundo works with NGOs and multilateral institutions such as the United Nations, the World Bank, and the World Health Organization. These stakeholders have partnered with Promundo, or adopted their programs and implemented them in communities around the world. Promundo receives funding from bilateral and multilateral donors, foundations, international NGOs, and individuals. A range of feminist-friendly foundations also support Promundo, “There is a large pool of funders committed to combating gender-based violence,” says Lauro. Other foundations, she notes, are more interested in thematic work on fatherhood and caregiving, gender and youth, or the ramifications for women of large-scale conflict resulting from local gangs, or from ethnic, tribal, national or other differences. Regardless, funding and advocacy around male conceptions of masculinity and gender represents an important part of the fight for gender equality.
Feminist leader and journalist Marianne Schnall’s eight-year-old daughter had a striking question after the election of Barack Obama in 2008. Why have we not had a woman president?
The question wouldn’t go away for Schnall, and soon she found herself bringing it up to thought leaders and scholars, trying to figure out what it would take to put a woman in the highest governmental office in America.
One thing Schnall realized in this process was the need for stronger coalition-building across progressive movements. “This isn’t a women’s issue. It’s a human issue. It’s an issue of having a reflective democracy, and that’s why we need to have men be part of these conversations,” said Schnall.
Schnall went on to talk about how “Right now, we’re in this moment we’re realizing that we need women for their voices and their visions,” but she also stressed the need for stronger alliances with men as a critical factor in what it will take to get a woman elected as President, and to bring more women into political leadership in general.
Susannah Wellford on Why She Doesn’t Believe the Hype
“There is all this hype that this is the year of the woman, and we are really going to be able to change things now, and for two reasons that I’ll tell you, I don’t feel very hopeful about it,” said Susannah Wellford, Founder of Running Start, a nonprofit organization that educates young women and girls about running for office.
Wellford referenced the 2008 election as a time when there was a big surge of interest in Running Start’s programs to help high schoolers and others learn about running for office. More recently in the run-up to the 2016 election, Wellford said there was not this level of enthusiasm about women joining the legislative bodies of our country. “It didn’t happen,” said Wellford.
Wellford’s second reason for concern about the success of this year’s women running for office relates to the huge advantages enjoyed by incumbents in our election process. “We would be wise to do more to change that system,” said Wellford.
She also spoke about the critical need for women’s equality to become a more gender neutral cause. “We have to make a good, strong, persuasive argument that this is not just about being fair to women….it’s really about creating a stronger, better society for everyone.”
Peeler-Allen Stresses the Need for More Inclusion
Kimberly Peeler-Allen, Founder of Higher Heights, talked about how to bring in more intersections when building the pipeline for political leaders. “I run higher heights, harnessing the power of black women to run for public office. When we’re talking about inclusion and talking about more inclusion of women, it often has two W’s — white women. It’s incumbent on all of us who are very aware of this to include ALL women. Make sure those voices are at the table, because often they are not.”
Neuwirth on the Future of ERA and Beyond
Jessica Neuwirth, Co-founder of Equality Now and President of the Equal Rights Amendment Coalition, talked about the Equal Rights Amendment and the ongoing strategy to pass a national bill in the United States protecting women’s rights. A lot of people under a certain age have no idea what the ERA is, said Neuwirth.”ERA was passed in 1972 by congress, but 10 years later, we still did not have enough states to ratify it. We had 35 states and needed 38. In 1982, when it still wasn’t ratified, it sort of fell off the radar screen.”
But Neuwirth said that there has been a recent resurgence in people wanting the ERA to pass. “It shouldn’t be that hard.” There are always men in the movement for ERA, but a lot has changed since the 70’s that should make it easier, not to mention the wave of #MeToo that has just come up recently.” Neuwirth talked about the critical role that legislators like Carolyn Maloney have played in continuing the fight to keep ERA on the table and ready for passage.
Neuwirth shared that there is also another strategy being attempted to pass ERA, which would involve removing the deadline on the legislation. In the meantime, work has gone forward with getting three more states to ratify ERA. “Nevada recently just ratified the ERA. Illinois is now considering it.” If Illinois ratifies the ERA, Neuwirth explained that that would mean only one more state needs to ratify it to get it passed.
Most constitutions already have prohib against sex discrimination,” said Neuwirth then talked about new legislation being floated to broaden the definitions of racial and gender and equality. The new legislation “defines sex very broadly to include gender identity, sexual orientation, and defines race very broadly and includes other forms of discrimination.”
“Why should men care about gender equality movements?” asked Neuwirth. “Inequality is bad for everyone, and equality is good for everyone, and there are so many studies that show that,” said Neuwirth.
Katz: “He’s not just a white man. He’s an aggressive bully white man.”
Jackson Katz, Author of Man Enough and Macho Paradox, wanted to add a few points about the 2016 election to the conversation. “So often Trump’s ascendancy is linked to race, but what gets short shrift is that it’s about white male resentment, and it’s a white male identity movement.”
Cultural recognition is what white men want and need, argued Katz, and Republicans have figured out how to work this fact in their favor. Katz argued that since Nixon, the Republican party has been successfully exploiting the cultural need of white males for respect, and getting white men to vote against their own economic interests in the process.
Katz discussed how Donald Trump works this political lever in extreme ways. “He’s not just a white man. He’s an aggressive bully white man. […] His masculinity is a central feature of his personality. His bully personality is a central feature of his political success.”
Katz described how, in the Republican debates, Trump attacked the other candidates’ masculinity, signaling to voters that he is the “real man” that no one can stand up to. “It works fabulously,” said Katz.
Katz noted that in conversations about which voters, demographically, elected Trump, attention is often quickly drawn to his support from white women “What about white women?” said Katz, is often the first question. But much more significant to Trump’s win, said Katz, was his domination of his base of working class white male voters, a demographic where Trump won 72% of the vote.
Katz also pointed out that Hillary Clinton did win the vote with college-educated white women. “White women had been voting Republican for decades,” said Katz. “Hillary Clinton was not successful at bringing enough of them back [to the Democratic party],” said Katz, but she still brought in 2% more votes from white women with a college education than any other Democratic presidential candidate. “There is a class gap among white women,” said Katz.
Katz went on to describe how he and other progressive male thought leaders are looking for ways to engage more men in gender equality work. “You have to speak to those white men,” he said. Katz argued that men don’t get approached enough to have conversations on where they stand on gender equality.
Marianne Schnall closed by noting that the stakes in this election are high, and encouraging everyone to check out websites from the panel, including Whatwillittake.com which has more information about electing women. “One of the most important things we can do is vote,” said Schnall.