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This author wants to achieve equality by modernising masculinity

Today Viktoria Saxby launches her new book The new man: on boys, men and the end of the battle of the sexes.

Interview Konrad Olsson
Photography Fredrik Andersson Andersson

Why did you decide to write this book?

— I wanted to write a book that clearly explains the benefits of gender equality – also for men and boys. And why modernized masculinity norms — what we as a society tell boys that it means to “be a man” — are also beneficial for men and boys.

What do you think about the gender debate today?

— I find that there is still a huge lack of knowledge about the benefits of gender equality for all, and that the whole debate around gender equality has become increasingly infected and polarized. We need to change the conversation in order to lessen the fears surrounding a change. The idea that there is a battle of the sexes is both outdated and non-constructive. We need to stop talking as if someone necessarily has to lose in order for someone else to win. Gender equality is not a zero-sum game; there is nothing to be afraid of. Instead, we need to focus on better understanding each other. If we are to even stand a chance of solving the challenges we all face as a human race we need to make use of everyone´s full potential and capacity. It´s high time to move forward together.

Why is masculinity important as a factor to achieve equality?

— As gender inequality is based on the power structure of men being superior to women, we cannot ever expect to reach gender equality without also modernizing masculinity norms. The most amazing thing about all this is that this change equals, not less, but more freedom and more happiness also for men and boys.

How does Scandinavian masculinity stand compared to other parts of the world?

— The change that has occurred in terms of masculinity norms in the Scandinavian and Nordic countries in the past few decades is absolutely amazing and well worth celebrating. There is an abundance of research showing that Scandinavian men are much happier than men in less gender-equal countries, even in comparison to men in Southern Europe. This happiness is strongly linked to the greater level of gender equality.

— I believe this can serve as a great example for men and for modernized masculinity norms elsewhere. It is important to remember that many of the benefits that Scandinavian men enjoy today – such as having access to an extensive parental leave – is a right that has been fought for politically – mostly by women and feminists. But now that men/fathers have the opportunity to spend more time with their children, no one wants to go back to “the good old days” – because it turned out that the “new days” and the modernized masculinity norms were much better, also for men!

Tell us about your background?

— I’ve worked with gender equality for 25 years, in many fields and disciplines all over the world. From working with gang members in Los Angeles for 5 years, to working with anti-trafficking and prostitution, to HIV/Aids in Africa. I´ve also created global campaigns on masculinities and on engaging men and boys for gender equality for the UN, the World Bank, MenEngage, Promundo and Men-Care. For 7 years, I worked in politics for a Swedish parliamentary party as a Political Advisor.

What are you up to today, besides the book?

— I currently work as a consultant with my own company, holding workshops and leadership training for organizations and the private sector. I also currently work for UN Women in the Democratic Republic in Congo to get more women represented in politics, and as a Gender Coach for the leadership of the Swedish Armed Forces. I have also co-founded the organization – to create a more diverse and representative media-sector. And of course, working with this book launching now in March 2019.

The book is in Swedish, when can we expect the book in English?

— As soon as I can find the time to translate it! I will need to do so quickly… because the world really needs more knowledge about the benefits of gender equality, less polarization, less fear of change, and a much more positive understanding on all that we stand to gain. Gender equality truly is the magic pill that has the power to change all of our lives for the better. It is part of the solution forward.

March 8, 2019

The new man: on boys, men and the end of the battle of the sexes is out today on Pagina Förlag