Episode 17

Published on:

4th Aug 2022

Dan Boyden (Safe Ground) - Reimagining Masculinities in the Prison System

Prisons can be hyper-masculine, harsh, hierarchical environments where there is a lot of pressure to be tough, never show weakness or emotion, and be prepared to use violence in order to survive. But is it possible to work with men in these spaces to unpack the rigid, restrictive expectations of masculinity that boys and men learn from wider society – and which might have played a part in why they are in prison in the first place? We talk to Dan Boyden, lead facilitator on the ‘Man Up’, ‘Family Man’ and ‘Fathers Inside’ programmes run by the UK charity Safe Ground, about how they do this in their work. We discuss how, in order to reduce crime, perhaps we need to not only work with individual men in prison, but also change prison cultures and the criminal justice system more broadly.

Safe Ground design and deliver arts-based programmes for people in prison and the community. Find out more (pdf): http://www.safeground.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Safe-Ground-A-Vision.pdf. Follow them on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Safe_Ground and Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/safe_ground/

Dan Boyden is also the director of an organisation called The Change Collective, which brings together creative practitioners seeking to use the arts as a tool for social change: https://www.thechangecollective.com. Follow him on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dan-boyden-4517542b/. He has given a TED Talk on ‘Creativity and the Alchemy of Groups’: https://www.ted.com/talks/dan_boyden_creativity_the_alchemy_of_groups

We cover the following topics in this episode:

  • What the ‘Man Up’, ‘Family Man’ and 'Fathers Inside' programmes are about, and what Safe Ground’s work with men in prisons involves
  • Challenges involved in doing group work with men in prison
  • How the prisons themselves interact with Safe Ground’s work
  • Shifts in penal policy in the UK towards more punitive responses
  • Why Dan and Safe Ground use arts-based methods
  • Engaging with men in prison about fatherhood
  • What impacts the work has on the men who take part
  • The need for more engagement with men and boys across society about masculine norms and expectations
  • How Dan got involved in working on masculinity issues, and the impact the work has on him

Further reading:

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About the Podcast

Now and Men
Current conversations about men's lives
What's it like to be a man in the 21st century? How are feminist issues relevant to men and boys? These questions are being discussed more than ever.

Our monthly podcast delves into these issues with experts such as practitioners, activists and academics. In each episode, you’ll hear in-depth conversations about masculinity, gender equality, and the lives of men and boys, with topics ranging from preventing violence against women, to promoting active fatherhood, to supporting men's health.

The podcast is created and hosted by Dr Stephen Burrell, Sandy Ruxton and Professor Nicole Westmarland, who are researchers from the Centre for Research into Violence and Abuse (CRiVA), in the Department of Sociology at Durham University in the UK. If you would like to give us your feedback, suggest a guest, or have a question you'd like us to discuss in a future episode, get in touch with us at nowandmen@gmail.com.

About your hosts

Stephen Burrell

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I am a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow in the Department of Sociology at Durham University in the UK, and a Deputy Director of the Centre for Research into Violence and Abuse (CRiVA). My research is about men and masculinities - especially preventing men's violence against women, and currently, engaging men and boys in caring for the planet. I'm also a trustee for White Ribbon UK and on the steering group for Changing Relations CIC. In my spare time I'm a big fan of drinking tea and being in nature.

Sandy Ruxton

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Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Sociology at Durham University (UK). Independent researcher, expert on men and masculinities. Previous policy work on human rights, children and families, poverty and social exclusion, and asylum and migration. Programme experience with boys and young men in schools, community, and prisons. Steering Committee member, MenEngage Europe. Volunteer for OX4 Food Crew. Chess-player, bike-rider, tree-hugger. Great grandfather edited Boy's Own Paper, but was sacked.