Negotiating What It Means to be a “Good” Man in Contemporary Papua New Guinea

Young men taking a break from garden work, Melkoi 2013

Event details

SSGM Event

Date & time

Monday 12 February 2018


Hedley Bull Theatre 2, Hedley Bull Centre (130), Garran Road, ANU


Stephanie Lusby


Hannah McMahon

The figure of the “good man” or “real man” is a common trope in Papua New Guinean and international campaigns to address HIV and AIDS, and violence against women. This figure is imagined as a perfect role model who is compliant with the directives of prevention slogans: a wearer of condoms, a faithful partner, non-violent and in control of everything from anger to sexual appetite, to alcohol consumption.

My thesis research takes the transnational campaign framing of good masculinity as a starting point and investigates the ambivalences and tensions in the ways that men and their communities frame what it means to be a raitman, a real man or good man, in contemporary East New Britain, Papua New Guinea (PNG). The research examines how collective and individual aspirations and experiences of navigating social, political and economic precarity, shape interpretations of good masculinity, and how men position themselves against those aspirations. I consider how men’s negotiations of ideas of aspirational masculinity, and of themselves as a raitman, impact on how they relate to, and position, women and what this can tell us about efforts to address issues of gender violence and inequality in PNG.

In this seminar, I will provide an overview of the research, undertaken in urban, semi-rural and rural-remote field sites in 2012-13, and present key findings from the thesis.

About the speaker
Stephanie Lusby is a PhD Candidate with the Department of Pacific Affairs. She has worked as an academic, research consultant and development practitioner in Melanesia since 2006. Stephanie’s work focuses on the gendered implications of social, economic and political change in the region. She is currently a research fellow with the Institute for Human Security and Social Change at La Trobe University.

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