Inimicus inimici mei amicus meus est, (the enemy of my enemy is my friend). This ancient proverb proves most powerful when alliances between assumed adversaries form and contribute to social justice. In 1848 at the Seneca Falls Convention, men joined forces with women to challenge patriarchy; in the 1920s, elite, conservative, Protestant white women allied with Pueblo Indians to fight for Native American religious freedom; and in the 1950s and 60s, privileged whites marched hand in hand with blacks to end racial discrimination. In this Polymathic Pizza session on Civility and the Conduct of Life, Professor Michael Messner will explore with students his current research on men who work to stop rape and domestic violence against women.
Michael Messner, professor of sociology and gender studies, is an expert in the sociology of sport, especially as it relates to constructions of masculinity and femininity. Professor Messner recently completed an update of a longitudinal study of gender representation in televised sports news and highlights shows. First conducted in 1989-1990, every five years the “Gender in Televised Sports” study has chronicled the asymmetries in the quantitative and qualitative coverage of women’s and men’s sports. The author of several books on gender and violence, Professor Messner’s current project is a life-history study of two generations of male activists against gender violence: men who came of age in the 1970s during a time of explosive feminist grassroots activism, and young men who are currently fueling a resurgence of anti-violence activism on college campuses and through national media-based campaigns. The study explores how activists make sense of their anti-violence work and how they strategize to stop men’s violence within two different historical contexts of gender formation.