Masculine Empire

Monday 19 November 2012, 6:21PM
By University of Auckland

A book to be launched this week at The University of Auckland takes an entirely new perspective on issues of violence towards women, and is therefore able to offer insights that readers will not have encountered before.

Entitled Masculine Empire: How Men Use Violence to keep Women in Line, the book is written by Associate Professor Peter Adams from the School of Population Health at The University of Auckland, published by Dunmore Publishing Ltd and supported by the White Ribbon Campaign led by the Families Commission, as well as the National Network for Stopping Violence Services and Women’s Refuge.

Dr Adams says his intention has been to examine the broader social underpinnings of men’s violence - to look at how a deeply-engrained belief in male superiority can drive a perception of male entitlement to power in the home: “It flips explanations for violence from what is happening in the minds of individual ‘bad’ men to a broader exploration of the social world and of ways in which men approach intimate relationships, and how male friendships help them maintain positions of power.”

The book is unusual in two ways. One is its narrative structure which focuses on the conversation of five men who meet regularly in a bar, and talk about their lives, attitudes and relationships, allowing readers to gain an understanding of the assumptions men make about women, the influence of the history of men being in charge and various control strategies used by some men to perpetuate their dominance in the home.

The other unusual feature is the focus on colonisation as a way of understanding violence. Says Dr Adams: “At an academic level I have set out to show how the oppressive dominance that men impose on women in violent and abusive relationships can be seen as paralleling the strategies used by one people in their colonisation of another… Indeed the alienation, loss of ownership and disempowerment experienced by those living in such colonies resembles in many ways the violations that women experience in oppressive intimacies.”

Each chapter of the book begins with a vignette focused on the voices of colonisers in New Zealand’s colonial history.

Rob McCann, the Families Commission’s White Ribbon Campaign Manager, says he and his colleagues are “really pleased that Peter has written this book. It’s appropriate the launch falls so close to White Ribbon Day: a day when we focus on men’s violence towards women. We know that there is a serious problem that needs to be addressed and we hope that this book will shine a light on the attitudes we need to change in order to reduce men’s violence towards women.”

Masculine Empire will be launched at 5.30pm on Tuesday 20 November as part of the nation-wide White Ribbon Campaign. It will take place at The University of Auckland’s Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, 85 Park Road, Grafton.

The launch will include an acted scene from the book and readings of brief extracts

Peter Adams practised as a clinical psychologist from 1981 to 2002, working primarily with issues relating to addiction and violence. During this time he co-founded an organisation providing intervention services for violence, and initiated a specialist training programme on violence and trauma. He has been an investigator in a series of research projects looking at how men talk about their violence against women and is the author of two previous sole-authored books.