What role can men play in ending violence against women and girls? Sarah Everard, Sabina Nessa, Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry – and many other women – have been murdered by men in the UK over the last year. This has led to an outpouring of anger about the extent of men’s violence, the pervasiveness of sexism and misogyny that underpins it, and the failure of key institutions to respond effectively. In this episode we talk to Dr Fiona Vera-Gray, Assistant Professor in Durham University’s Department of Sociology, who is an expert on sexual violence, street harassment and pornography, about her research and what needs to change.
The episode covers the following topics:
- Whether the heightened awareness and public debate about men’s violence against women is likely to lead to significant change.
- The response of the police, the wider criminal justice system, and UK government to calls for them to do more to tackle men’s violence against women and girls.
- What men need to do to help become part of the solution.
- Problems that can arise when men do get involved in work to end violence against women.
- Fiona’s research into the impacts of men’s intrusions and harassment of women in public spaces, and how this constrains their freedoms.
- Her research on the content of mainstream online pornography.
- The influences that pornography is having on society, including on ideas of masculinity and male sexuality, and what we should do about it.
- The impact that feminism and being part of the movement to end violence against women and girls has had on Fiona.
- Fiona has recently written an article for the Guardian, ‘If we’re serious about ending violence against women, we need to talk about culture’: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/oct/04/violence-against-women-culture-true-crime-pornography-onscreen
- You can buy her 2018 book, ‘The Right Amount of Panic: How women trade freedom for safety in public’ (Policy Press), here: https://policy.bristoluniversitypress.co.uk/the-right-amount-of-panic
- And her 2016 book, ‘Men's Intrusion, Women's Embodiment: A critical analysis of street harassment’, here: https://www.routledge.com/Mens-Intrusion-Womens-Embodiment-A-critical-analysis-of-street-harassment/Vera-Gray/p/book/9781138360327
- You can read her latest journal article, ‘Sexual violence as a sexual script in mainstream online pornography’ (2021), in the British Journal of Criminology here: https://academic.oup.com/bjc/article/61/5/1243/6208896
An article on what men can do to help end violence against women by Stephen, Sandy and Nicole Westmarland, ‘How men can be allies to women right now’, was published in March 2021: https://theconversation.com/how-men-can-be-allies-to-women-right-now-157126
- Dominic Raab (UK Justice Secretary) was widely criticised when he commented on the BBC Breakfast Programme (October 6th, 2021): ‘Misogyny is absolutely wrong, whether it’s a man against a woman, or a woman against a man’: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/oct/06/dominic-raab-confuses-meaning-of-misogyny-in-bbc-interview
- Professor Liz Kelly, who devised the concept of women’s ‘safety work’, is a Professor of Sexualised Violence and Director of the Child and Woman Abuse Studies Unit (CWASU) at London Metropolitan University: https://www.londonmet.ac.uk/profiles/staff/liz-kelly/
- Dr Evan Stark is the author of the book ‘Coercive Control: The Entrapment of Women in Personal Life’ (2007): https://evanstark.weebly.com
If you have been affected by sexual violence, information and support is available from Rape Crisis: https://rapecrisis.org.uk/get-help/