Boys at the Crossroads: Insights and Innovations for Doing Masculinity Differently

Recent social movements have catapulted the issue harmful masculinities into the forefront of public consciousness. Men also experience violence, yet this is overwhelmingly perpetrated by other men. This research seeks to form a network of practitioners, artists and academics to talk about boys, men and masculinity.

Recent social movements #metoo, #timesup and #everyonesinvited, have catapulted the issue of men’s violence and harmful masculinities into the forefront of public consciousness. In the UK men’s violence is the biggest single health risk facing women and girls while male suicide is the biggest killer of men under 40. Of course men also experience violence, including sexual harms, yet this is overwhelmingly perpetrated by other men. To address this, interventions with men abound, but there has been little sharing, reflection or networking around what’s working (or not), why and what’s next. To live well, to live together, in the 21st century, we need to talk about boys, men and masculinity.

Historically, those working on men’s mental health and those working to end gender-based violence have tended to work in quite separate spheres. This team will develop a network and event that will bridge that divide and inspire and enable new ways of working, thinking and being, interlinking the separate approaches. This will be a UK wide network of academics, practitioners and activists working with boys and young men around masculinity, mental health and men’s violence against women and marginalised genders. The aim of the network will be to foster conversation and share insights across these otherwise disparate terrains in order to enable innovative research and collaborations.

What is being created?

This research team will be creating a multidisciplinary conference on the topic of young men and masculinity straddling the terrains of young men’s mental health and engaging men and boys in gender-based violence prevention. They will create a space to share, showcase, theorise and troubleshoot innovative practice and thinking and enable novel collaborations. Recognising the tendency for interventions with men and boys to centre white able-bodied heterosexual masculinities, the event will take an intersectional approach, inviting and privileging contributions from individuals and organisations working with young men of colour, around LGBTQ+ masculinities and the intersections of masculinity and disability justice.

Who are the team and what do they bring?

  • Bristol Young Mens’ Network – an emergent affiliation of practitioners and academics working across the dual terrains of men’s mental health and working with men to end gender-based violence.
  • Nathan Eisenstadt (University of Bristol Medical School)
  • Martin White (Office for Health Improvement and Disparities)
  • Rachel Potter (Kooth – a young people’s online mental wellbeing community)
  • Tom Antebi (Off The Record Bristol)
  • Alex Greenwood (‘Teaching Individuals Gender Equality & Respect’ – TIGER).