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.

Table of contents:

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. Flood's journal article provides a critical assessment of the recent 'turn to men' in gender politics. Flood's speech (2023) provides a short account of the 'state of play' in work engaging men and boys in Australia.

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.

Making the case to men

How do we make the case to men that they should care about, and take action against, gender inequalities? How do we engage men? XY includes a wealth of resources to help you do this. See e.g. the articles above, pages 144-173 of Michael's (free) book, this guide on engaging men in workplaces, and plenty more.

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. XY also includes a collection focused on what men can do in workplaces in particular.

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.

Principles for the work

What principles should guide the work of engaging men and boys?

Most accounts of work with men and boys share three emphases: a concern with sexism and gender inequalities, a concern with men’s and boys’ own wellbeing, and attention to differences and inequalities among men and boys themselves. We can think of these therefore in terms of three principles: 1) feminist: intended to transform gender inequalities; 2) committed to enhancing boys’ and men’s lives; and 3) intersectional: addressing diversities and inequalities. Michael Flood explores each in more detail here.

Other pieces on XY exploring principles for work with men and boys include these:

Also see these other 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 and the ICRW report are both particularly valuable reports 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, manuals, and curricula on education and activism

Planning a workshop, training session, or campaign? What are the practical educational and other strategies which can be used to engage men? Flood's book on engaging men in violence prevention (free here) includes a chapter on effective practice in face-to-face education. 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

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.

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.


Efforts to engage men and boys in progress towards gender equality often meet resistance: pushback, resentment, and defensiveness. A recent guide titled Engaging Men: Reducing Resistance and Building Support explores practical strategies to reduce and respond to resistance. This is complemented by other resources here.

One particular form of resistance takes the form of organised anti-feminist backlash, by "men's rights" groups. See below for resources on men's rights and fathers' rights.

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.

Substantial proportions of women, and men, identify as feminists or support feminism, according to this overview of various international surveys.

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.

Adopting a profeminist politics means making personal change, and this can be challenging, as Flood explores in this personal essay.

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? This journal article explores this dilemma. Robert Jensen explores the paradox of men's relations to feminism here.


One key issue is accountability. What is accountability, and how and to whom should this work be accountable? XY includes pieces here by Michael Flood (2023), 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).

Should men or women or both work with men and boys?

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. 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 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:


This book chapter explores using online media for violence prevention with men and boys.


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 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:

The Men’s Bibliography includes lists of published works on various relevant topics, including:


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 flirting, “Five Things Men Can Do To Not Be Creepy”, and “Something I Want Men To Know Before Flirting With Women”.

Ensuring that our sexual relations are consenting is vital, and this XY collection on consent contains useful resources here.

So-called 'pickup' culture and 'pickup artists' have been the object of feminist critique, as compiled in this XY collection.

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.

How can we respond effectively to backlash and resistance, or even make it less likely in the first place? Check out these three pieces on responding to and preventing backlash and resistance, including the recent guide Engaging Men: Reducing Resistance and Building Support, an 8-page brief, and a longer evidence review.

Other critiques and discussions on XY 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, 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.