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I’ve been invited to present a workshop at this years “Healing Justice Conference (Sept 24 – 27, Milwaukee, WI).  The Healing Justice Alliance, which hosts this conference every year, is the national network of “hospital based violence prevention programs.”

I will presenting a version of my training on promoting healthy masculinities.  The main themes  I will focus on are these:

The forms of violence that hospital based violence prevention efforts focus on are forms of violence that are overwhelmingly perpetrated by men.  The forms of manhood that the men who perpetrate, and are victims of, in these forms of violence is a very narrow and limited/limiting version of masculinity.  To use an overly academic term, think of hegemonic masculinity on steroids.  This limited version of masculinity that is a factor in men’s perpetration and victimization of violence, is also a factor in other expressions of men’s lack of health and well-being (higher rates of risk taking behavior, higher rates of depression, higher rates of smoking and alcohol use/abuse, decreased rates of help-seeking behaviors, decreased tendencies to seek regularly health care, etc.)

Working to promote, expand and sustain a more healthy, and expansive version of masculinities is (or should be) an inherent part of efforts to reduce or prevent violence.  Furthermore, efforts to promote healthy masculinities are most likely to be most effective if these efforts, like violence prevention efforts in which they’re embedded, are promoted across the social ecology.  The men who have this particular violence-prone expression of masculinity likely live in environments in which having exactly that expression of masculinity is reinforced if not required.  So only working with individual men who have experienced violence to develop a healthier masculinity, and then sending them back into an environment in which a more violence-prone masculinity is required, only sets that man up to be re-victimized, and the violence prevention efforts more broadly to fail.

I will be working to convey this message, in an interactive way, in the forty-five minutes or so that I have been given by the organizers.

This seems like an ideal opportunity to work with a different audience of preventionists, in terms of how we can integrate promoting healthy masculinities in violence prevention efforts.

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