Michael Flood

How are domestic and sexual violence workplace issues, and what can we do to prevent and reduce them? This talk provides an accessible introduction to the workplace prevention of domestic and sexual violence. Men in particular have a positive role to play in violence prevention. Professor Flood explores the everyday steps that men can take to make a difference, the mistakes it’s easy to make, and the ways forward in building more respectful, inclusive workplaces for everyone.

Programs that engage men and boys in health promotion and violence prevention are proliferating. Many aim to foster “healthy masculinities”, using education and support to involve men and boys in adopting more positive or gender-equitable forms of selfhood and relating. 

This paper offers a critical stocktake of 15 'healthy masculinities' programs in one state in Australia, assessing them against common standards for gender-transformative programming among men and boys. 

Men in workplaces can make influential contributions to progress towards gender equality. Most men support principles of fairness and equity in workplaces and most welcome women’s participation in STEM. Despite this, few men so far have actively supported efforts to increase women’s participation. However, male allyship is vital if we are to make progress.

(Speech by Professor Michael Flood at the launch of The Man Box 2024.)

Let’s think about that model of traditional masculinity, toxic masculinity, dominant masculinity, whatever we want to call it. That version of manhood based on being tough, aggressive, stoic, homophobic, and dominant over women.

Good news and bad news

First, there’s some good news. Most men don’t personally endorse this model of manhood. Most men believe that:

In engaging men and boys in preventing domestic and sexual violence, what do we need? In the following, I identify key ways forward, addressing both our overall approach in violence prevention and particular prevention strategies. I focus on primary prevention – on efforts to prevent the initial perpetration of domestic, family and sexual violence.

Men and masculinities are now on the public agenda. There is growing attention in Ireland and around the world to the gendered attitudes, practices, and relations associated with men and boys and their implications for health, violence and gender inequality. There are various signs of this: intensified public debate over codes of masculinity, growing attention to men and masculinities in policy and programming, increasing scholarship on the links between masculinities and various social issues, and men’s activism and advocacy.

An ally is a member of a privileged group who acts to challenge or dismantle that same privilege. Ally politics involves members of privileged groups taking action to undermine that same privilege: white people challenging racism, heterosexual people challenging heterosexism and homophobia, and of course, men challenging sexism.

Key elements of male allyship therefore include the following.

There is growing interest in using online media among men and boys to prevent men’s violence against women and girls, prompted by two insights. First, such media may be effective ways to reach and educate large numbers of boys and men. Organisations such as schools and universities involved in violence prevention education are turning increasingly to online media as platforms for education on violence, gender, and healthy relationships, using these to deliver curricula to large cohorts of students and others.

Men’s rights advocates (MRAs) are deeply hostile to feminism and feminists. And in turn, MRAs are deeply hostile to pro-feminist men or male feminists.

But *how* MRAs criticise and attack male feminists betrays their own low opinions of men and their hypocrisy.

This account comes from my experience of being a visible pro-feminist male advocate, on Twitter and elsewhere, and noticing the kinds of attacks that anti-feminist men or MRAs direct at me and other pro-feminist men.

The lives of men and boys are on the agenda in Australia. There is a historically unprecedented level of attention to men and masculinities - in popular debate, media commentary, community programs, and policy