Engaging Men and Boys in Conversations about Gender Violence: Voice Male Magazine Using Vernacular Rhetoric as Social Resistance

By Phillips, Joshua Daniel | The Journal of Men's Studies, Fall 2012 | Go to article overview

Engaging Men and Boys in Conversations about Gender Violence: Voice Male Magazine Using Vernacular Rhetoric as Social Resistance


Phillips, Joshua Daniel, The Journal of Men's Studies


Voice Male magazine is an on-going, in-print publication that touts itself as "male positive, pro-feminist, and open-minded." Being distributed four-times a year, this small publication is steeped with articles, book reviews, and editorials about gender violence and masculinity. The topics included within this text are inclusive across various factions of sexual violence, sexuality, pornography, and fatherhood. In addition, the National Advisory Board for this publication reads like a Gender Communication 101 syllabus and draws on the work of several well-known activist and scholars such as Eve Ensler, Robert Jensen, Jackson Katz, Michael Kimmel, and Sut Jhally. However, while the richness of academic and activist experience is appreciated among its contributors, Voice Male magazine is not exclusive in its published expressions and actively encourages outside voices to submit for publication.

As a publication that specifically addresses men and men's roles is ending gender violence, Voice Male magazine offers a unique perspective as vernacular rhetoric to end gender violence; a movement that has traditional focused solely on women's roles. Within the confines of the academy, a rhetorical analysis of this publication would help develop new ways of comprehending men's roles in ending men's violence against women, children, and other men. With a focus on men's roles in a traditionally female movement, Voice Male articulates the various struggles and tensions of men working through a patriarchal system that privileges their gendered identity. While traditional socialization may push men into prejudicial ways of thinking and acting, spaces such as Voice Male aim to counteract these exclusionary systems of oppression and opt to open up new spaces that provide men with a model for working against gender oppression from within a privileged body.

The purpose of this paper is to discover the ways Voice Male magazine uses vernacular rhetoric as social resistance and challenges dominant discourses. Furthermore, this essay will look at the rhetorically strategies used by Voice Male in discussing issues of gender violence and masculinity within the confines of a publicly available text. By analyzing the topics and themes represented across several issues of the magazine, I hope to unveil some of the strategies implemented by Voice Male in an effort to determine how Voice Male creates a space for more inclusive dialogue about gender violence and masculinity.

REVIEW OF LITERATURE

One way culture has begun addressing the larger systemic issues of sexism and gender violence is by highlighting conversations where men are actively engaged in educating other men through mainstream forms of mass communication. With these thoughts in mind, the purpose of this review of literature is to place Voice Male magazine within a larger, contemporary cultural context. By understanding the current cultural climate and literature that addresses men's violence against women, children, and other men we can better understand how Voice Male might function as a written text within a larger conversation about gender violence.

Gender Violence Statistics

In speaking about the prevalence of men's violence against women, the United Nations estimates that one-third of the three billion women on our planet will be abused, beaten, and/or raped in her lifetime (Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000). Men's violence against women is ubiquitous and can manifest as child abuse, child sexual abuse, stalking, sexual harassment, sexual intrusion, rape, murder and/or domestic violence. Drawing from The World Bank to highlight the pervasive nature of domestic violence specifically, Alhabib, Nur, and Jones (2010) assert "Worldwide, domestic violence is as serious a cause of death and incapacity among women aged 15-49 years as cancer, and a greater cause of ill health than traffic accidents and malaria combined" (p. 370).

Turning to statistics of sexual assaults, in 1987 Koss, Gidycz, and Wisniewski released a landmark study indicating that one in four college women was the survivor of a completed act of sexual assault. …

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