Transforming Hegemonic Masculinities in Papua New Guinea: Rugby League as a Vehicle for the Prevention of Gender-based Violence and HIV/AIDS

By Rochelle Stewart-Withers and Adam S. Everill.

Published by The Sport Collection

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Article: Electronic $US5.00

The Pacific region, including Papua New Guinea (PNG), has been targeted in the growing trend of using sport as a vehicle for achieving development goals. PNG is the only country in the world where rugby league is the national sport, and it is this passion for the game that creates opportunities for promoting and realising broader community development ideals and goals. Key development priorities worthy of attention in PNG are gender-based violence and HIV/AIDS. Alternatively, critics have argued to utilize a conduit such as rugby league, which promotes traits such as hardness, domination, strength, and aggression, might reinforce the very aspects of male behavior that need to be changed. For this reason, the idea of using rugby league as vehicle to address gender-based violence and HIV/AIDS is regarded by some as too contradictory. We argue that within this sphere of contradiction there is also an opportunity for disentanglement and reframing. By engaging with debates and seeking to untangle this tension, we draw on the work of the non-government organization (NGO) Rugby League Against Violence (RLAV) to offer alternative ways of utilising the game of rugby league. We argue that, if managed well, rugby league can provide opportunities where new beliefs about what it means to be a man and behave like a man are created, and utilized, to challenge and transform harmful contemporary expressions of masculinity.

Keywords: Development, Gender-based Violence, HIV/AIDS, Masculinities, Papua New Guinea (PNG), Rugby League

The International Journal of Sport and Society, Volume 4, Issue 4, February 2015, pp.57-69. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 536.577KB).

Dr. Rochelle Stewart-Withers

Lecturer, Institute of Development Studies, School of People, Evironment and Planning, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Massey University, Palmerston North, North Island, New Zealand

Adam S. Everill

Chief Executive Officer, Rugby League Against Violence, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia