Men building gender equality: A guide to XY's content

What role can men play in building gender equality? How can men be engaged in the work of building a gender-just world? This page offers a guide to the wide range of resources and materials on XY on these issues.

XY is dedicated to promoting men’s involvement in building gender equality, and this means that much of the content on XY is related to these issues. Here however, I have tried to highlight XY’s content in a structured way. This page overlaps with the page offering a tour of XY’s content of engaging men in violence prevention.

Engaging men: Short articles and speeches

XY includes a series of articles, speeches, and other materials on the role of men in building gender equality. These include short, accessible introductions for men to men’s roles in feminism, such as:

Other accessible pieces on the role of men in building gender equality include:

Why should we engage men in building gender equality? What efforts to engage men are under way around the globe? And where do men stand when it comes to gender equality? Flood’s introduction to the book Engaging Men in Building Gender Equality offers answers to these questions, as do many of the items below. Also see the collection on this issue on XY’s page on engaging men in violence prevention.

How should we understand men and masculinities? Many of the articles and reports below include frameworks for understanding men and gender. Some are hundreds of pages long, while others are far shorter such as this one-page introduction to gender.

Men coming to an awareness of gender issues can find good, accessible introductions to men and masculinities among the books and articles listed here. And of course, men should acquaint ourselves with feminism and feminist theory, and these introductions are a good place to start. If you would rather watch a video, or you would like to use videos in your education and advocacy work, then check out XY’s list of great videos about men and masculinities, men and feminism, violence prevention, and so on, on YouTube and elsewhere.

Of course, there are books and materials out there whose accounts of men and masculinity are inaccurate, ill-informed, or downright dangerous. For example, while Biddulph’s book Manhood has been a best-seller in Australia, it is ill-informed and anti-feminist. And there are good feminist critiques of men’s rights perspectives too, listed in this bibliography, and elsewhere on XY in these collections of academic critiques and more journalistic critiques.

What can men do in their everyday lives to build gender equality, resist sexism, and so on? How can men speak up and step in the face of sexist and abusive behaviour? Reports such as Men Speak Up provide detailed guidance and discussion, while this XY collection features a range of guides and discussions on the action men can take.

What role should men play in support of feminism? Should men use the term ‘feminist’ for themselves? This XY collection on men and feminism addresses these and other issues, featuring a large collection of articles and discussion pieces.

Engaging men: Reports, reviews, and guides

XY includes a wide range of key reports and overviews on the role of men in building gender equality.

Recent overviews of the ‘engaging men’ field include the following works. The EMERGE evidence review is a particularly valuable report on contemporary efforts to engage men in building gender equality across a range of issues.

XY hosts a wide variety of other reports on engaging men, as follows (in reverse chronological order):

There are reports on particular programs and efforts, including those above, but also:

Also see XY’s collection of key reports and overviews on the role of men in addressing violence against women.

These pieces are only a fraction of the literature out there on men’s roles in building gender equality. This bibliography, part of the Men’s Bibliography, provides a comprehensive list of publications on men, feminism, and gender equality, and overlapping with this, a comprehensive list of publications on men’s anti-violence advocacy.

Guides and manuals on education etc.

Planning a workshop, training session, or campaign? What are the practical educational and other strategies which can be used to engage men? XY includes a collection of guides and manuals on engaging men, including the full text of 15 or so key guides. Face-to-face education is a key strategy for engaging boys and men, whether in schools or other contexts, and this report identifies key principles of effective practice in ‘respectful relationships’ or ‘healthy relationships’ education Flood et al. 2009).

The Men’s Bibliography lists published works on working with men here, and published works on working with boys and young men here. Also see The Men’s Bibliography’s lengthy lists of works on men, feminism, and gender equality.

An intersectional approach

An intersectional approach, based on recognition of the intersections of gender with other forms of social difference and inequality, is well established in feminism. And intersectional approaches are increasingly important in work with men.

So, how we can work with men in intersectional ways? XY includes a range of resources, including:

Relevant sections in The Men’s Bibliography include lists on:

Debates, dilemmas, and challenges

There are debates over men’s involvement in gender equality work: over men’s relations to feminism, privilege and disadvantage, who should do the work, and so on.

One area where these debates have been explored is in relation to engaging men in ending men’s violence against women, and this critical stocktake of the ‘engaging men’ field (Flood, 2015) discusses a range of key issues here.

Men and feminism

The XY collection on men and feminism features a wide range of accessible articles on men’s relations to feminism, the mistakes it’s easy to make, and more.

Men should support feminism, but should not claim the term ‘feminist’ for themselves, Flood argued in 2001. There are questions frequently asked of profeminist men and profeminist men’s politics, and this 1997 piece (revised in 2002) answers many: Who are profeminist men? What do profeminist men believe? What do profeminist men want? Why do you call yourselves pro-feminist and not feminist? And so on. Pro-feminist men often are accused of being ‘anti-male’, and this early piece dissects such criticisms.

What principles should guide men’s pro-feminism? This early piece offers an account of three principles which should guide profeminist men’s work and activism: pro-feminist, male-positive (or, enhancing men’s lives), and gay-affirmative. Contemporary pro-feminist men’s work has built on and complicated such principles, and many of the materials above explore this.

Accountability

One key issue is accountability. What is accountability, and how and to whom should this work be accountable? XY includes pieces here by Ben Atherton-Zeman, Kristy Macomber (2014), a very early statement by Men Against Pornography (1990s), and others.

Privilege

Gender inequalities are as much a story of male privilege as they are of female disadvantage. This speech by Flood (2017) introduces gender and men’s privilege. Julian Real has contributed several pieces to XY on privilege, including Unpacking the Male Privilege Jockstrap, White Male Supremacy: What It Is and What It Does, (2007), and Carefully Listening To Radical Feminist Women, For A Change (2007).

Among the reports listed above, some show greater attention to issues of privilege than others. See, for example, the series of reports published by the Institute for Development Studies (IDS), including Challenging Patriarchy: Unsettling Men and Masculinities (IDS Virtual Bulletin), Undressing Patriarchy: Redressing Inequalities (IDS, 2013), and Politicising Masculinities: Beyond the Personal (IDS, 2008).

Educators etc.

Who should work with men and boys? This report offers a detailed discussion of the advantages, disadvantages, and evidence on male versus female educators, on pp. 53-54, while this short piece asks if ‘engaging men’ work is for men only. There has been recent discussion of the value of ‘gender-sychronised’ approaches, and this short piece offers some brief reflections on these.

Men’s groups

Men’s groups, e.g. focused on anti-sexist consciousness-raising, long have been an important part of men’s anti-sexist work. A recent account is this one: Experiments in Transformative Justice: The Challenging Male Supremacy Project in New York City. Two early pieces explore how to organise these: Starting your own group for men against sexism, by Basil Elias, and Building And Sustaining A Healthy Men's Anti-Rape Group, by George Marx (1987), while Flood’s 1995 article explores his own experience of an anti-sexist men’s group.

Homophobia and heterosexism

Homophobia (fear and hostility towards gay and lesbian people) and heterosexism (the privileging of heterosexuality over other forms of sexuality) are key aspects of the social organisation of sexuality and gender.

XY includes a variety of articles on men, masculinities, and sexualities. This piece introduces the social construction and organisation of heterosexual men’s sexuality (1995). Other pieces explore how masculinity is structured by homophobia (fear and hostility towards gay and lesbian people) (Flood, 1995), the links between homophobia, heterosexism, and masculinity (Flood, 1997), what straight men could learn from gay men (Tatchell, 1999), and the policing of manhood (Plummer, 2001), and masculine stereotypes, peer culture and the social significance of homophobia (Plummer, 2001).

Settings and contexts

XY includes materials focused on men and gender equality work in particular settings and contexts or among particular groups of men and boys, including e.g. on workplaces and organisations.

Workplaces and organisations

Men in workplaces, whether senior male leaders or blue-collar men, can play important roles in fostering gender equality in workplaces and organisations. See this XY collection of guides, reports, and discussions on men building gender equality in the workplace. Other pieces include:

Issues

Work to addres gender inequalities often focuses on particular issues, such as sexual and reproductive health, pornography, parenting and care, children and gender, and so on, and XY includes materials focused on these.

Sexual and reproductive health

Feminist and profeminist advocates call on men to support women’s sexual and reproductive rights and health, including women’s rights to safe and legal abortion. XY includes pieces on men and abortion, including:

Men’s sexual and reproductive health, including HIV/AIDS, is a key area of work in engaging men, and XY includes a wide range of reports, guides, and reviews:

Published scholarship on sexual and reproductive health, including men’s roles, is listed here.

Pornography

Pornography is widely identified as a key contributor to men's and boys' sexual violence against women and girls. This XY collection on pornography, men, and boys covers the evidence on the links between pornography and sexual violence, how to engage men and boys in resisting pornography, and more.

Fathering

Fathers can play vital roles in building gender equality, both through their parenting of children and their relations with children’s mothers and other carers. XY includes a collection of 15 or so articles on fathers (and mothers) raising non-violent, gender-equitable, and feminist sons. Other pieces XY hosts include:

The Men’s Bibliography lists published works on fathers and fathering here, and works on working with fathers here.

Boys

What does it mean to grow up male? This short article explores the social and sexual ordering of young men’s lives (Flood, 2002).

XY hosts a range of major reports on boys, including:

One important area of work with boys focuses on boys’ education. XY includes

Other, shorter pieces include:

Men’s health and illness

XY includes a range of materials on men’s health and illness, including a collection in full text of key academic readings on men’s health, a collection of full-text readings on male injuries and deaths at work, and another collection of full-text readings on suicide among males. There is a very large academic scholarship on men’s health and illness, as this section of The Men’s Bibliography lists.

XY hosts various reports on men’s health, as well as the reports above on men’s and boys’ sexual and reproductive health:

Other early pieces on men’s health published in the print magazine XY include items on men’s health and men’s rights (Wadham, 1997) and on misguided efforts by men’s rights activists to attack women’s health (Couch, 1993)

Relationships, sex, and flirting

If men are serious about living gender equality, that means practising it in every domain of their lives, including when it comes to flirting and sexual interaction. XY includes two pieces on this, “Five Things Men Can Do To Not Be Creepy”, and “Something I Want Men To Know Before Flirting With Women”.

Guns, war, militarism

This XY collection explores the links between guns, violence, and masculinity. Another piece shows the problems with MRA claims about war and male disadvantage.

Anti-feminist backlash: men’s rights (MRAs) and fathers’ rights

Men who speak or act in support of feminism, like women, often face anti-feminist resistance and backlash. Anti-feminist men’s and fathers’ rights groups are involved in efforts to attack feminism and the women’s movements. XY includes a range of handy critiques of MRAs and anti-feminist backlash, including both published academic critiques and shorter, accessible critiques. Other materials include:

MRAs often claim that men are now disadvantaged relative to women, and they point to men’s health, war, and fathering and family law as areas where this is the case. XY includes critiques of MRA claims regarding:

Profeminist men's groups and networks can be seen as one form of a range of collective mobilisations among men or ‘men’s movements’, as this encyclopedia entry on men’s movements (2007) by Flood discusses.

Research on men, boys, masculinities, and gender

If you are doing research on men, boys, masculinities, and/or gender, then XY offers valuable resources for this work.

Academic scholarship on men and masculinities overlaps with work to engage men in building gender equality. XY includes various scholarly materials, including a collection of many of the writings of a preeminent masculinities theorist, Raewyn Connell, a series of articles critically assessing scholarship on the notion of ‘inclusive masculinity’, and more. Other academic articles on XY include pieces on:

Other resources

XY hosts key resources on men and gender equality, including resources for research, advocacy, and education.

Social media: Please join XY’s Facebook page, follow XY on Twitter @xyonline, and follow Michael Flood on Twitter @MichaelGLFlood.

Email list: XY hosts the profem email list, the longest-running profeminist men’s email list in the world. Join it to take part in discussions about men, profeminism, and social change.

Links: Profeminist men’s groups and organisations are active around the world, and XY includes a comprehensive page of links to these.