Triple Advocacy

In 2005, Erich Lehner and Christa Schnabl described three forms that men’s politics can take[1]: genderblind politics practices by male politicians; advocacy on behalf of men within the framework of identity politics; and political contributions on the part of men toward the goal of gender justice. Taking up the work by Messner and Lehner/Schnabl, mä has developed the concept of triple advocacy. We want to ensure that the three different forms of advocacy mentioned by Lehner/Schnabl harmonize with one another in the context of our work. mä and its members are taking on the following roles (at the same time and with equal regard for each role):

  • Interceders: bringing attention to men’s vulnerabilities, their concerns, and their potential
  • Allies supporting women’s concerns and rights, and partners cooperating with women’s organizations
  • Confederates who are party to an alliance advocating for gender diversity and social justice

In terms of implementation, the three forms of advocacy may look quite similar. When it comes to the attitudes that back them, however, differentiation is critical. After all, when progressive men organize in the name of gender politics, roles and attitudes must be crystal clear because the tension resulting from the question of the very legitimacy of a men’s movement is unavoidable:

As allies critical of the structures, cultures, and processes defining male domination, progressive men fight against hegemonic masculinity, adrocentrism, and sexism (Level 1) by promoting and (helping in) achieving alternative, gender-just social arrangements. However, being that their gender is male, they cannot (completely) refuse acceptance of the “patriarchal dividend” (Connell). Even the most emancipated, or the most “female/feminine” man does not only suffer from existing gender relations—he also profits. If progressive men do not want to be gender-blind when filling the role of political advocates, they must examine their commitment to gender justice on the basis of their masculinity. This does not equate to identity politics and navel-gazing: it is rather a matter of political integrity and personal responsibility. Triple advocacy thus means continuously creating a balance between men’s demand to contribute to what ends up on the gender equality agenda and the demand directed at men to articulate what is important for boys, men, and fathers and/or what they need in order for them to really want to join the movement for gender justice. The first consequence of this is the commitment to fighting for gender justice—and thereby refusing participation in the battle between the sexes. The second consequence is the necessity to incorporate the perspectives of boys, men, and fathers into the processes shaping gender politics.


[1] Lehner, Erich & Schnabl, Christa (2005). Geschlechtergerechte Politik. Grundlagen für die Konzeption von Männerpolitik. In: Krall, Hannes (Hrsg.). Jungen- und Männerarbeit. Bildung, Beratung und Begegnung auf der «Baustelle» Mann, S. 221-236. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag