Dan Boyden (Safe Ground) - Reimagining Masculinities in the Prison System

Now and Men

Aug 4 2022 • 59 mins


Prisons can be hyper-masculine, harsh, hierarchical environments where there is a lot of pressure to be tough, never show weakness or emotion, and be prepared to use violence in order to survive. But is it possible to work with men in these spaces to unpack the rigid, restrictive expectations of masculinity that boys and men learn from wider society – and which might have played a part in why they are in prison in the first place? We talk to Dan Boyden, lead facilitator on the ‘Man Up’, ‘Family Man’ and ‘Fathers Inside’ programmes run by the UK charity Safe Ground, about how they do this in their work. We discuss how, in order to reduce crime, perhaps we need to not only work with individual men in prison, but also change prison cultures and the criminal justice system more broadly. Safe Ground design and deliver arts-based programmes for people in prison and the community. Find out more (pdf): http://www.safeground.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Safe-Ground-A-Vision.pdf (http://www.safeground.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Safe-Ground-A-Vision.pdf). Follow them on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Safe_Ground (https://twitter.com/Safe_Ground) and Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/safe_ground/ (https://www.instagram.com/safe_ground/) Dan Boyden is also the director of an organisation called The Change Collective, which brings together creative practitioners seeking to use the arts as a tool for social change: https://www.thechangecollective.com/ (https://www.thechangecollective.com). Follow him on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dan-boyden-4517542b/ (https://www.linkedin.com/in/dan-boyden-4517542b/). He has given a TED Talk on ‘Creativity and the Alchemy of Groups’: https://www.ted.com/talks/dan_boyden_creativity_the_alchemy_of_groups (https://www.ted.com/talks/dan_boyden_creativity_the_alchemy_of_groups) We cover the following topics in this episode: What the ‘Man Up’, ‘Family Man’ and 'Fathers Inside' programmes are about, and what Safe Ground’s work with men in prisons involves Challenges involved in doing group work with men in prison How the prisons themselves interact with Safe Ground’s work Shifts in penal policy in the UK towards more punitive responses Why Dan and Safe Ground use arts-based methods Engaging with men in prison about fatherhood What impacts the work has on the men who take part The need for more engagement with men and boys across society about masculine norms and expectations How Dan got involved in working on masculinity issues, and the impact the work has on him Further reading: ‘Treatment of UK prisoners during Covid meets UN definition of torture’ (The Guardian): https://www.theguardian.com/society/2022/jul/20/treatment-of-uk-prisoners-during-covid-meets-un-definition-of-torture (https://www.theguardian.com/society/2022/jul/20/treatment-of-uk-prisoners-during-covid-meets-un-definition-of-torture) Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: https://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html (https://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html) Theatre of the Oppressed: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theatre_of_the_Oppressed (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theatre_of_the_Oppressed), and its founder, Augusto Boal: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Augusto-Boal (https://www.britannica.com/biography/Augusto-Boal) Poet, playwright and performer Inua Ellams: http://www.inuaellams.com/ (http://www.inuaellams.com) ‘Growing Out of Crime’ by Andrew Rutherford, which discusses the work of Jerome Miller in Massachusetts, decarceration and young people: https://www.watersidepress.co.uk/books/growing-out-of-crime-9781872870496/ (https://www.watersidepress.co.uk/books/growing-out-of-crime-9781872870496/) A great US documentary, 'The Feminist on Cellblock Y': https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYxTzsabkH8 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYxTzsabkH8)