WHY MASCULINITY MATTERS?
Over the past three years, the world is witnessing an escalation of violence breaking out of international conflicts, that bring religion into a political struggle. Especially, after the launch of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, better known as ISIS, in 2014,political violence in the name of religion has vastly spread out from the Middle East, bringing terror to Europe, Asia and also hitting Indonesia. ISIS’s call for a khilafah, or the creation of a caliphate, has attracted over a thousand Indonesians who are dreaming to live in the fantasy of an Islamic state. By late 2016, it was estimated that more than 500 Indonesian foreign fighters fought for ISIS overseas, while the other 500 or more had attempted to enter ISIS-controlled territory. Meanwhileinside the country, the religious hard-line groups have gained vast support. Exploiting religious sentiment and racial hatred during their political campaign, as shown in the latest Jakarta gubernatorial election, these groups have successfully enlarged their bases and allies. Put together, these phenomena demonstrate anexpansion of radical sentiment in the country, with the highpossibility of supplying a lot more fuel for political violence in Indonesia’s diverse religious setting.
A striking feature that characterises the radical group’s profile is their overwhelmingly rough masculine outlook with a particular type of machoism. These fighter groups who are actually joining ISIS are overwhelmingly males, regardless of an increasing number of women are attracted to the ISIS project. However, this masculine outlook is exhibited more vividly in their extensive use of aggression, violence, terror, intimidation and disturbing display of anger and destruction. Their propaganda deploys norms such as warriorship, bravery, toughness, moral-superiorityaccompanied by constant claims of religious piety.
All these elements reflect not a religious doctrine, but a form of masculinity. This is where a focus on masculinity in dealing with religious-political violence becomes crucial. The radicals’ methods, languages, and jargon demonstrate masculine characteristics, driven by men’s ideals, norms and fantasies which all constitute a certain kind of dominant masculinity. Radical movements such as ISIS cannot be understood merely as a religious-political agenda but as an operation of a masculinity project. Their attraction for a large number of men does not merely lay in their religious narrative but in their fantasy of manhood. Among the increasing number of initiatives, programs, and organisations that deal with radicalisation and its impacts in Indonesia, very little have addressed gender and none deal with men and masculinity.Gender blindness has characterised the existing CVE, de-radicalisation programs and peace building initiatives. IMVIRE is established to overcome this blindness.
WHAT WE UNDERSTAND
At IMVIRE, we hold the understanding that violence is not a mere social and political action, but a gendered practice. Violence is not something that happens against women and humanity, but what some men do. Violence is enabled by some forms of masculinity. We cannot, therefore, merely talk about ‘violence’, but ‘male violence’. In addressing violence, we need to turn our attention to men and masculinities. We believe that certain values of masculinity perpetuate male violence, mediate men’s practice of domination, and thereby sustain gender inequality. Violence is acted within relationships that impact on men’s values, identities and social standing. Men’s capacity and their social possibility to act and react violently contribute to the ways of becoming a man in society at large.
At IMVIRE, we hold the understanding that religion is one of the core dimensions through which masculine domination is institutionalised and male violence is exercised. Religions, as institutions and as a set of doctrines, preserve and promote particular types of masculinity. In the very basic aspect, religions provide structures, narratives and teachings that make men’s position a norm in religious world. Being religious contributes to the ways of being a man. At the same time, some dominant ways of being a man determine the course of being religious. What we understand is that religious radicalisation and extremism functions by exploiting masculine fantasies of warriorship, heroism, adventure, and conquest, and abusing religious jargons, narratives, and meanings to justify them. The radicals’ call encourages men to exercise violence, aggression, toughness and conquest as the supreme way of being religious.
WHO ARE WE
We are young scholars, mostly Australian Alumnus, who have been engaging with the issues of gender, masculinities, male violence and religious issuesfor more than ten years. IMVIRE’s personnel share a combination profile of scholar, social activist and educator. We have years of experience in combining research with community programs and advocacy.
THE WAY WE DO IT
We intend to initiate programs that give emphasis on knowledge production, creativity, sustainability and community engagementin exploring and deploying religious and local values that support peace, respect and gender equality.
WHAT WE DO
We carry out research, organise seminars and publications. We also run courses and manage laboratorycommunities.
- Masculinities and Religious Violence
- Masculinities and the course of Violence against women
- Religion and Masculinities
- Boyhood and violence culture
- Indonesian Masculinities
- Masculinities in Academia
- Re-Shaping Gender and Masculinities, Cultural Strategies for the Prevention of Religious Radicalisation and Violence
- Klitih,a Case of Violent Masculinity Among Indonesian High School Students
- Jihad Masculinity
– Masculinities Courses
– Gender Master Class
– Religion and Social Analysis Course
– Gender and Masculinity in Philosophy Course
In IMVIRE, we aimto develop Indonesian scholarship in the area of masculinities and male violence with a strong interest on its relation to religious issues. We focus on, but are not limited to, two main areas: religious radicalisation-violence and violence against women. IMVIRE seeks to collect the knowledge about the ways through which male violence has been practised, organised, and institutionalised in various social settings and different periods of men’s life in Indonesian contexts. In the longer term, our objective is to contribute to the knowledge about how to changemale violence practice and cultureof violence, and to change the forms of masculinity that enable male practices of domination. We intend to engage Indonesian communities in creatingnil-violence masculinities, and nil-domination gender relationship.