Stephen Burrell

There is a wealth of content on the Internet offering men and boys rigid, restrictive and harmful ideas about masculinity and gender relations – from the Manosphere, to pornography, to mainstream news and entertainment featuring narrow models of manhood. By contrast, there remains a relative lack of material seeking to engage in positive, empowering ways with men and boys in order to strengthen their participation in debates and action in relation to gender equality and feminism.

Engaging men and boys is a key strategy for preventing the perpetration of sexual violence. Whilst prevention efforts among men and boys are growing, they remain limited in scope and scale. The evidence base for the effectiveness of sexual violence prevention work with men and boys is also small, although increasing rapidly, and shows mixed impacts. The chapter argues that it is necessary for prevention initiatives to place a greater focus on the structural and cultural factors contributing to sexual violence.

Violence prevention efforts among men and boys must be guided by three key principles: 1) feminist: intended to transform gender inequalities; 2) committed to enhancing boys’ and men’s lives; and 3) intersectional: addressing diversities and inequalities.

Masculine gender norms substantially shape the lives of men and boys in a range of different ways.

Much of the work to engage men in preventing violence against women across the globe is profeminist — it is informed by feminist perspectives and done by or in collaboration with women and women’s organisations. Men involved in this work typically are expected to support feminism and to be accountable to women and feminism. But which feminism should profeminist men support? There has been relatively little discussion of this question in the ‘engaging men’ field.