Master of Arts
Department of Law, Humanities, and the Arts
Hasyim, Nur, How far can men go? A study of the men's movement to end violence against women in Indonesia, Master of Arts thesis, Department of Law, Humanities, and the Arts, University of Wollongong, 2014. http://ro.uow.edu.au/theses/4414
The presence of men in the movement to end violence against women and achieve gender equality has become a heated issue among activists and scholars worldwide, since on the one hand, it gives new hope for transforming the structure of dominance underpinning this violence, while on the other hand, it raises feminists’ concerns regarding its dilemmas and risks.
The phenomenon of men who involve in the women’s movement emerged in Indonesia in the late 1990s and became a movement in early 2000. The growth of the pro-feminist men’s movement and the concerns about the risks of this movement are the reasons for writing this thesis. The main question is to what extent does the engagement of men strengthen the women’s movement for ending men’s violence against women? To answer this question, this thesis studies the New Men’s Alliance, a national pro-feminist men’s network in Indonesia. This thesis examines three elements of the Alliance: namely, its ideology, structure and practices, and the impact generated by the Alliance.
The thesis applies a case study and evaluation research approach, which requires the development of benchmarks or frameworks as a basis for the analysis. The benchmarks comprise indicators and variables of the three elements outlined in the previous paragraph and criteria for the assessment of each indicator or category. The evaluation draws on methods of qualitative inquiry, including document study, focus group discussions and in-depth interviews. They are coded and analysed in accordance with the categories and criteria formulated within the framework. To enrich the discussion, other themes or categories that emerge from the data are also explored, although they are not formulated in the framework.
This study reveals that the New Men’s Alliance clearly declares that it is part of the feminist movement, stating that it was “born from the womb of the feminist movement”. The political stance of the Alliance is also illustrated by the characteristics of its beliefs. Members of the Alliance believe in the feminist notion that “the personal is political”, blame the patriarchy for constructing rigid ideas of masculinity and femininity, believe that violence against women occurs due to an imbalanced power relation between men and women, and lastly, believe that men should be held responsible for the violence they use. However, the Alliance encounters challenges on how to sustain its ideology, due to the absence of a structured learning process for its members and inadequate media for introducing its values to its members and to the general public, especially men.
In terms of organisational structure and practices, this thesis found the tendency of the New Men’s Alliance was to adopt an informal and non-hierarchical type of organisation by applying a simple structure with unspecified roles and responsibilities, which fits with feminist organisational principles. Moreover, the Alliance is also characterised by decision-making processes based on consensus. The political attachment and accountability of the New Men’s Alliance to the women’s movement are maintained through a consultative group that consists of five women’s organisations in Indonesia. The consultative group is actively involved in the implementation of the programmes of the Alliance. In fact, the consultative group members alternately serve as the host and secretariat of the Alliance’s programmes and activities. The New Men’s Alliance adopted this informal type of organisation and the involvement of the women’s groups as a strategy to lessen the dangers of men’s involvement in the movement aiming to end violence against women. By doing this, the New Men’s Alliance seeks to ensure that its movement is part of the women’s movement. Furthermore, the Alliance’s partnership with, and accountability to, women’s groups is also a strategy to avoid competition between the New Men’s Alliance and women’s groups in Indonesia when seeking funding support for programmes supporting the ending of violence against women and gender equality.
However, the informal organisational character of the New Men’s Alliance leads to a number of challenges. Instead of establishing an egalitarian structure, a small number of key members of the New Men’s Alliance tend to control the organisation. Knowledge and power are not distributed equally among members, due to different access to the Alliance. The New Men’s Alliance also encounters difficulties in ensuring its principles and code of conduct are implemented by members, as the Alliance mainly relies on individual members’ commitments while the membership mechanism is not adequately organised.
Regarding the impact of the New Men’s Alliance, this study found that the network has shown its ability to generate positive impact for the movement to end violence against women in Indonesia. For example, the Alliance has educated its members to be critical of their own sexism and to live with feminist values and principles, influenced the media, scholars and artists to consider the issue of men and masculinity as an integral part of violence against women and gender equality issues, and influenced more men to engage in its movements, whether in ‘virtual’ or ‘real’ activism, although it is still very small compared to the total population of Indonesian men. The Alliance has secured the provision of funding support for women’s and men’s programmes, and lastly, the Alliance, along with other groups, especially feminist groups, has influenced new policies at various levels regarding the prevention of violence against women and the achievement of gender equality in Indonesia.
Overall, based on the assessment of three dimensions of the New Men’s Alliance and considering some conditions that need to be addressed, this thesis concludes that the Alliance moderately strengthens the movement for ending violence against women in Indonesia.