Phillips, Joshua Daniel — Engaging Men and Boys in Conversations About Gender Violence: Voice Male Magazine Using Vernacular Rhetoric as Social Resistance

Phillips, Joshua Daniel. “Engaging Men and Boys in Conversations About Gender Violence: Voice Male Magazine Using Vernacular Rhetoric as Social Resistance.” Journal of Men’s Studies 20.3 (2012): 259-273. Web.

Voice Male magazine publishes content that calls for an end to gender violence, “provid[ing] men with a model for working against gender oppression from within a privileged body” (Phillips 260). Phillips’ aim is to study how Voice Male uses “vernacular rhetoric as social resistance and challenges dominant discourses.” He begins his analysis with an overview of gender violence, defining it as “child abuse, child sexual abuse, stalking, sexual harassment, sexual intrusion, rape, murder and/or domestic violence” (260). Phillips identifies the cultures of patriarchy and the myths that sponsor such violence. In particular, he stresses that “myths about gender violence trivialize men’s violence against women and suggest that women: lie about being harmed; ask for it/deserve to be abused; enjoy being victimized; exaggerate their injuries; could escape if they wanted to.” These myths also suggest “that only certain types of women (e.g. poor women, women of color) are abused” (Phillips 261).

Phillips argues that Voice Male “invites men to discover the ways they may have internalized problematic gender norms through gendered socialization without attacking the male gender as inherently oppressive.” He draws from Judith Butler to demonstrate how gender hierarchies are performative rather than biological (261). In addition, Phillips examines how popular culture and education perpetuate gender violence. For example, he notes that many institutions provide an educational experience that “is customarily limited to teaching young women how to protect themselves and fails to address how young men might change their behavior,” which “places the burden of gender violence solely on women and provides no framework for holding men accountable” (262). According to Phillips, Voice Male helps subvert these notions by encouraging men to participate in ending sexism, challenging dominant constructions of masculinity, and encouraging the reconsideration of gendered interactions through open dialogue (266). Ultimately, he notes, this magazine encourages more than simply increased awareness of gender violence; it calls for action against this malady (267). Phillips concludes that Voice Male uses popular culture and education to its advantage to “[hold] men accountable by challenging the ways men think and respond to gender violence” (270).

Phillips’ definition of gender violence offers some entry points for understanding images and language as forms of violence. For example, his classification of sexual intrusion as gender violence enables us to reconceptualize the leaking of nude photographs or videotapes of sexual acts (several female celebrities come to mind) as forms of violence. In like manner, his definition enables us to view forms of sexual harassment such as catcalling as an enactment of gender violence. His focus on Voice Male’s activist stance also raises questions about the violence of inactivity: by failing to intervene in the perpetration of gender violence, is one complicit in that violence?

Ashley Hughes


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