Any assessment of the evidence for gender transformative work with men and boys should consider the conditions that have shaped the emergence of this work. Male-focused gender transformative work has a history, or rather histories. Reviewing its evidence base in light of the forces and factors which have informed its emergence over time enriches our understanding of both the findings from, and the silences within, this body of work.
When I was a child I thought everyone had a penis.
Or dumdeedle, as our family called them, a name that indicates the awkwardness that hung around male sexuality.
Achieving gender equality must, and has, involved efforts to understand the vulnerabilities and risks that adolescent girls and young women face every day – but how much do we know about the realities of adolescent boys and young men? This report takes a deeper look at the daily lives of adolescent boys and young men around the world and at how they can join the movement towards improved health and gender equality.
Pornography has become the default sex educator for large numbers of young people. Viewing pornography is routine, especially among boys and young men, as two Australian studies document. Children and young people are encountering pornography in greater numbers, at younger ages, and with a wider variety of content.
2. Most users of pornography are heterosexual men. 3. Pornography’s content often is sexist and violent. 5. Pornography has undeniable effects on the sexual lives of men and women, boys and girls. 6. Pornography’s effects are complex. 7. Existing efforts to shift men’s porn use are limited. 9. We must appeal to and engage boys and men. 10. There are dilemmas here.
Here I focus on exploring one possible shift in male sexual identity: the movement from the traditional Alpha Male to what I name the Omega Man [...] Alpha Males instinctively seek to conquer females and dominate males in the context of power-over relationships. Omega Men foster the cultivation of harmonious relationships with and among males and females in the context of mutually empowering relationships. [...] Alpha Males build their confidence through ranking highly in social/sexual hierarchies and seeking constant approval. Omega Men are confident men who neither accept social/sexual hierarchies nor need social recognition to pump up their egos.
Unmet sexual and reproductive health (SRH) needs are a critical threat to the health of individuals worldwide, and gender inequalities remain a significant barrier to addressing such health issues. Harmful gender norms and attitudes influence men’s and women’s health and well-being, shaping men’s behaviors in ways that have a direct impact on the sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of their partners, their families, and themselves. At the same time, SRH and family planning issues are often treated as women’s responsibility.
White Ribbon New Zealand's 2016 campaign focused on giving fathers in New Zealand the skills and confidence to talk about respectful relationships, including respectful sexual relationships, with their sons. One significant influence on boys' and young men's sexualities is pornography, and White Ribbon NZ addressed this in their campaign materials.
Meaningful engagement with men and boys is increasingly recognized as critical to gender equality and equity, necessary not only for women’s empowerment, but also for transforming the social and gender norms that reinforce patriarchy and inequality and harm both women and men. The primary challenge embedded in this work is how to engage men and boys effectively without instrumentalizing them as a pathway to women’s empowerment on the one hand, or marginalizing women and girls in gender equity work on the other.
This working paper:
- Reviews existing knowledge on child marriage and informal unions between girls and boys/men in the Global South;
- Explores the attitudes of male family and community members on child marriage and the role of masculinity in shaping these attitudes; and
- Surveys interventions currently working with men and boys to see what can be built upon more systematically in the future work on child marriage.
Please see below for the full report, in PDF.