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.
Table of contents:
- Engaging men: Short articles and speeches
- Engaging men: Reports, reviews, and guides
- Guides, manuals, and curricula on education and activism
- An intersectional approach
- Debates, dilemmas, and challenges
- Settings and contexts
- Anti-feminist backlash: men’s rights (MRAs) and fathers’ rights
- Research on men, boys, masculinities, and gender
- Other resources
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:
- What's the role of men in ending patriarchy? (Flood, 2017)
- Some introductory thoughts on involving men in feminism (Peretz, 2018);
- Is gender equality good for men? (Flood, 2016);
- Feminism Needs Men. Men Need Feminism, a short talk by Michael Flood (2014);
- Involving Men in Gender Policy and Practice (Flood, 2007)
- What men can do to promote gender equality (Flood, 2006)
- Why men should support gender equity, by Michael Kimmel (2005)
Other accessible pieces on the role of men in building gender equality include:
- Gender equality: Engaging men in change (Flood, 2019);
- Accelerating Gender Equality – Do we need Male Champions of Change? (Flood, 2016)
- Debate: Is ‘engaging men’ the game changer for gender equality? (Flood, 2016)
- Going to Places That Scare Me: Personal Reflections on Challenging Male Supremacy, by Chris Crass (2014)
- Can Men be Feminists?, a talk by Jonathan Crowe (2013);
- Men and Feminism: Some challenges and a partial response, by Jonathan Crowe (2011);
- Man-friendly Feminism?
- Is Feminism Men's Work, Too? (2009)
- Gender Mending: Men, Masculinity, and Feminism, by Jenn Ruddy (2006);
- Where Are The Revolutionary Men? Thoughts on denial, guilt, ownership and action, from an aspiring ally (2005);
- Men, Gender, and Development, by Michael Flood (2004)
- Resisting Masculinity: The Importance Of Feminism To Men, by Robert Jensen (2002);
- Can men be the allies of feminism?, by Nighat Gandhi
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. Flood's journal article provides a critical assessment of the recent 'turn to men' in gender politics.
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, this eight-page discussion of men and the 'Man Box', and this short account of the term 'toxic masculinity' and its value and risks. Some book-length introductions to gender are available here in full text.
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. Or if you would like to listen to podcasts, check out XY's list of podcasts on men and masculinities.
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 men can do
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. Flood's detailed discussion of everyday sexism, and how to challenge it, is useful too.
What role should men play in support of feminism? Should men use the term ‘feminist’ for themselves? Can men be feminists? This XY collection on men and feminism addresses these and other issues, featuring a large collection of articles and discussion pieces. Flood and Ertel's recent book chapter, "Men’s experiences as agents of feminist change" (2020), explores key challenges in men’s efforts to take up profeminism. Also see below.
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 and the ICRW report are both particularly valuable reports on contemporary efforts to engage men in building gender equality across a range of issues.
- Gender Equity and Male Engagement: It Only Works When Everyone Plays (ICRW, 2018);
- Working with men: Strategies and challenges in engaging men in building non-violence and gender equality (the slides from a 4-hour workshop on this topic, Flood, 2016)
- Men, Masculinities, and Changing Power: A Discussion Paper on Engaging Men in Gender Equality from Beijing 1995 to 2015 (MenEngage, 2014);
- Men and Gender Equality (Book chapter)
- EMERGE (Engendering Men: Evidence on Routes to Gender Equality): Policy brief, practice brief, plus evidence review, tools and guides
- Engaging Men and Boys in Building Gender Equality, an information paper produced for Beijing+ 15 (2010);
XY hosts a wide variety of other reports on engaging men, as follows (in reverse chronological order):
- Work with men and boys for gender equality: A review of field formation, the evidence base and future directions (Greig and Flood, UN Women, 2020)
- Critical Dialogue on Engaging Men and Boys in Gender Justice (MenEngage, 2016);
- Adolescent boys and young men: Engaging them as supporters of gender equality and health and understanding their vulnerabilities (UNFPA, 2016);
- EMERGE Practice Brief on "Lessons in good practice from work with men and boys for gender equality" (IDS, 2015)
- Men, Masculinities, and Changing Power: A Discussion Paper on Engaging Men in Gender Equality from Beijing 1995 to 2015 (MenEngage, 2014);
- Increasing engagement of men and boys in development cooperation work, a SIDA report by Paul Dover (2014);
- Engaging Men and Boys in Advancing Women's Agency : Where We Stand and New Directions (Fleming, Barker, McCleary-Sills and Morton, 2013)
- Challenging Patriarchy: Unsettling Men and Masculinities (IDS Virtual Bulletin)
- Undressing Patriarchy: Redressing Inequalities (IDS report, 2013);
- Masculinities, power and change (Lorentzen, 2011);
- Mending Inequalities: Men and Gender Equality in the OSCE Region (Duban and Seftaoui, 2011)
- WHO Policy Brief: Policy Approaches to Involving Men and Boys in Achieving Gender Equality and Health Equity (Flood, Peacock, Stern, Barker, and Greig, 2010);
- Engaging Men and Boys in Gender Equality and Health - A global toolkit for action (2010);
- What Men Have To Do With It: Public Policies to Promote Gender Equality (2010);
- Men, Male Roles, and Gender Equality - Norway White Paper (2009);
- Man Made: Men, masculinities and equality in public policy (2009);
- Working with Men and Boys: Emerging strategies from across Africa to address Gender-based Violence and HIV/AIDS (2009);
- Politicising Masculinities: Beyond the Personal (2008);
- Engaging Men in “Women’s Issues”: Inclusive approaches to gender and development, a special issue of the journal Critical Half (2007);
- Engaging men and boys in changing gender-based inequity in health (2007)
- Engaging Men and Boys to Achieve Gender Equality: How can we build on what we have learned? (2007);
- Men and Gender Equality: Towards Progressive Policies (2006, Helsinki, Finland);
- Engaging Men in Gender Equality: Positive Strategies and Approaches - Overview and Annotated Bibliography (Esplen, 2006);
- Engaging boys and men to empower girls: Reflections from practice and evidence of impact (2006);
- Working with Men and Boys to Promote Gender Equality and to End Violence Against Boys and Girls: Methods, strategies, tools and practices (2005);
- Agenda journal, Special Focus: Gender, Culture and Rights (2005);
- UN Expert Group Meeting, The role of men and boys in achieving gender equality (2004);
- Working with men for women's rights (AWID, 2004);
- Gender Equality and Men, the entire text of the book edited by Sandy Ruxton (Oxfam, 2004);
- Role of men and boys in promoting gender equality: Advocacy Brief (Chattopadhay, 2004);
- Gender Is Everyone’s Business: Programming with Men to Achieve Gender Equality (2002);
- Men and Gender Equality: Resistance, Responsibilities and Reaching Out (Hearn, 2001);
- Men, Masculinities & Development: Broadening our work towards gender equality (2000);
- Men, Feminism, and Men’s Contradictory Experiences of Power (Kaufman, 1999).
There are reports on particular programs and efforts, including those above, but also:
- Men are Changing: Case study evidence on work with men and boys to promote gender equality and positive masculinities (IPPF, 2010);
- The role of men and boys in achieving gender equality – UN DAW, 2008 (United Nations report, published by the Division for the Advancement of Women)
- Boys for Change: Moving Towards Gender Equality (2007);
- Defying the Odds: Lessons learnt from Men for Gender Equality Now (Kenya)
- Three Case Studies: Involving Men to Address Gender Inequities (2003);
- My father didn't think this way: Nigerian boys contemplate gender equality (2003).
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.
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).
Men's groups are an important strategy for both personal change and community education, and this XY collection includes resources on them.
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. And its section of how-to guides on activism and movement building, including many books in full text.
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:
- A book chapter on working with diverse populations of men and boys, in Flood's free book (2018);
- Engaging men from culturally and linguistically diverse (ethnic minority) backgrounds (Flood, Conference paper, 2013);
- Engaging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and boys in violence prevention (Report, 2017);
- An intersectional approach to engaging men (Flood, Conference paper, 2016);
- Indigenous, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men: An XY collection
Relevant sections in The Men’s Bibliography include lists on:
- Race, ethnicity, countries, and cultures: bibliographies on the intersections of masculinity and ethnicity, and on formations of masculinity and gender in particular countries and regions;
- Violence prevention in Indigenous, immigrant and refugee, and culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities.
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.
The phrase 'toxic masculinity' appears regularly in media discussions of men and gender. Flood offers a primer and commentary on the term, and links to a range of other valuable discussions of the term.
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.
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. Also see discussions of accountability in the reports above, including the ICRW report (2018). Flood's free book provides a useful account of accountability as personal, interpersonal, and institutional, on pp. 92-96. Also see MenEngage's page on accountability.
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).
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, e.g. focused on anti-sexist consciousness-raising, long have been an important part of men’s anti-sexist work. XY's collection on men's groups provides a valuable account of their purpose and politics, and provides guides on how to run them.
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).
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.
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:
- A report on Engaging men in flexible working arrangements (WGEA, 2014);
- A report on the role of men in workplaces in preventing men’s violence against women (Holmes and Flood, 2013);
- A journal article on “Undoing Men's Privilege and Advancing Gender Equality In Public Sector Institutions” (Pease and Flood, 2006);
- A bibliography of published works on men building gender equality in workplaces and institutions;
- A bibliography of published works on violence prevention in workplaces and organisations.
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.
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:
- A collection of articles on men and abortion
- Men for Women's Choice
- Beyond Ovaries: Is there Room for Men in the Pro-Choice Movement?
- Transcending Ovaries: Toward Male Equality in the Abortion Debate
- Bro-Choice: Moving Men From Passive Allies to Vocal Stakeholders in Ending Oppression (2013)
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:
- Getting to Equal: Engaging Men and Boys in Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) and Gender Equality (2018)
- Male Engagement in Family Planning (2014)
- Building male involvement in sexual and reproductive health and rights (2012)
- Men, Masculinities and HIV/AIDS: Strategies for Action (2012)
- Men-streaming in sexual and reproductive health and HIV (IPPF)
- Men and Care in the Context of HIV and AIDS: Structure, Political Will and Greater Male Involvement (article by Dean Peacock, 2008)
- Young Men and HIV Prevention: A Toolkit for Action (2007)
- Promoting More Gender-equitable Norms and Behaviors Among Young Men as an HIV/AIDS Prevention Strategy (Pulerwitz et al., 2007)
- Engaging Men in HIV and AIDS at the Service Delivery Level: A Manual for Service Providers (Acquire, 2008)
- Reaching Men to Improve Reproductive Health for All: Implementation Guide (2003)
- SysteMALEtizing: Resources for Engaging Men in Sexual and Reproductive Health
- In Their Own Right: Addressing the Sexual and Reproductive Health Needs of Men Worldwide (2000)
- In Their Own Right: Addressing the Sexual and Reproductive Health Needs of American Men (2000)
- Partnering: A new approach to sexual and reproductive health (2000)
- Focus on Men and Reproductive Health Issues (2000)
- Young Men's Sexual and Reproductive Health: Towards a National Strategy - Getting Started (Sonenstein, 2000)
- What about Boys? A Literature Review on the Health and Development of Adolescent Boys (2000)
- Literature Review for the Symposium on Male Participation on Sexual and Reproductive Health: New Paradigms (1998)
Published scholarship on sexual and reproductive health, including men’s roles, is listed here.
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.
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:
- Same-sex parenting: What does the research say about outcomes? (8 reports on the research on same-sex parenting)
- Five Questions on Profeminist Fatherhood, by Jeremy Smith (2008)
- Role of Men in the Lives of Children (UNICEF, 1997)
The Men’s Bibliography includes lists of published works on various relevant topics, including:
- Fathers and fathering;
- Working with fathers;
- 'How to' books on fathering, raising sons, raising daughters.
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:
- The Truth About… Men, Boys and Sex: Gender transformative policies and programming (IPPF, 2012)
- Promoting Awareness-raising and Capacity-building on Gender and Masculinities with Children, Adolescents and the Youth, by REDMAS, Nicaragua (2008), in Spanish
- Engaging boys and men to empower girls: Reflections from practice and evidence of impact (Barker, 2006)
- Boys and Changing Gender Roles (2005)
- Adolescent Boys and Young Men: Engaging Them as Supporters of Gender Equality and Health and Understanding Their Vulnerabilities
- Supporting boys’ resilience: A dalogue with researchers, practitioners, and the media (2004)
- Boys in the Picture: Adolescent boys' health (2000)
- What about Boys? A Literature Review on the Health and Development of Adolescent Boys (2000)
One important area of work with boys focuses on boys’ education. XY includes
- Addressing the Educational Needs of Boys (2002)
- Male teachers in schools: A collection of articles on male teachers, men as ‘role models’ in schools, etc.
Other, shorter pieces include:
- Pathways to Manhood: The social and sexual ordering of young men’s lives (Flood, 2002)
- Do Boys Need Male Role Models? (Ruxton, 2015)
- Hot and healthy sex, a set of tips for boys and young men (Flood, 2001)
- A critique of Steve Biddulph’s book Raising Boys
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:
- Men's health around the world: A review of policy and progress across 11 countries (2009)
- Men, gender, and HIV prevention - Articles by Erin Stern
- Involving Young Men in HIV Prevention Programs
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)
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”.
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:
- This book chapter, providing a comprehensive critique of men’s rights groups / MRAs;
- This short account of how to respond to men’s rights / MRA claims and groups (Flood, 1997);
- These two pieces on responding to and preventing backlash and resistance, including an 8-page brief and a longer evidence review;
- this article on fathers' rights groups and their efforts to undermine work to address violence against women;
- Reviews of Warren Farrell’s anti-feminist books The Myth of Male Power and Women Can’t Hear What Men Don’t Say;
- An open letter of rejection of the idea of ‘International Men’s Day’ (2004);
- A bibliography of men’s rights and fathers’ rights works and of critiques;
- and a wide range of other materials.
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:
- Men’s health and illness (Flood and River, 2017);
- War and militarism (Flood and Duriesmith, 2017)
- Fathering and family law, including a journal article by Flood (2012);
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.
If you are doing research on men, boys, masculinities, and/or gender, then XY offers valuable resources for this work.
- The Men’s Bibliography is a massive bibliography of published scholarship on men, masculinities, and gender, organised into a series of topics and sub-topics.
- Measuring masculinity: This compendium brings together a range of quantitative measures or scales of masculinity, gender, violence, and sexuality.
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:
- Negotiating Gender in Men’s Research Among Men, a book chapter (Flood, 2013)
- Men as Students and Teachers of Feminist Scholarship (Journal article) (Flood, 2011)
- Between Men and Masculinity: An assessment of the term “masculinity” in recent scholarship on men (Flood, 2002);
- The Politics of Masculinity: An overview of contemporary theory (Mike Leach, 1994).
XY hosts key resources on men and gender equality, including resources for research, advocacy, and education.
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.