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New research on engaging boys and young men in sexual violence prevention

July 08, 2021 at 9:41 PM

From the NZFVC

New research asked boys and young men about online sexual harassment and sexualised abuse against girls and young women, and how to prevent it in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The research focussed on online communication between boys and girls and was “framed within a broader context of gender equality and ethics”. It finds that boys are "caught in a net of confusing messages about how to be men" but also how, “given the opportunity to discuss and unpick these messages, boys’ curiosity and good intentions can be supported in ways that potentially free them up to contribute to more ethical and egalitarian norms for behaviour."

The findings from the research are presented in a new report, Shifting the Line (2021).

The research drew on peer group workshops with 54 secondary school boys and young men in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, which were designed to get boys and young men to think about gender, equality and ethics. The workshops and research sought to explore new ways of approaching prevention of sexual harassment, violence and abuse, as well as other forms of gendered violence. In the report background, the researchers discussed challenges to effective approaches to engaging boys and men in gender equality and violence prevention writing:

"One key point of contention concerns the efficacy and the risks of approaches that deliberately mobilise masculinity as a strategy to engage men as allies. This approach in essence calls upon men to be good men, by drawing on traditionally masculine qualities such as strength and protectiveness to effectively ‘man up’ to stop violence. While male allies and partners are important in the movement toward gender equality and preventing gender based violence, the problem with such approaches is that they implicitly, and sometimes explicitly, hold in place stereotypes of masculinity that are part of the problem. At best, they only scratch the surface of the degree of change that is needed, and miss a key element of requiring men to reflect on their own gendered position and the way that it sits within hierarchies of gendered power and privilege, as well as those of ethnicity, socioeconomic status, sexuality, ability, and so on."

The report outlines the researchers' approach to change, how the workshops were developed and findings from the workshops with boys and young men. Findings are presented in four areas:

  1. Masculine norms and their production
  2. Norms, ethics, and sending nudes
  3. Onsharing nudes and the art of intervening
  4. Conversations towards shifting the line

Click here to read more on this from the NZFVC

Category: Research