On 19 May the University of Gloucestershire hosted  A Call2Men UK event on Promoting Respect, Preventing Violence. A C2M(UK) work to explore, understand and unpack “the man box” to begin to take apart the forms of toxic masculinity which promote men and boy’s violence against women and girls (and other men and boys) and detrimentally impact men and boy’s mental health.

Nick presented to the audience about the affect that Hollie’s murder had on him as a man and a father. He provided an emotional account of how despite the enormous trauma that Hollie’s death had on him, he wanted to make a positive out of the tragedy and help others from being murdered and fathers going through what he is experiencing. He described how everyday is a challenge just to get out of bed in the morning but concentrating on positive outcomes and helping others drives him on each day.


A Call2Men conference details

Together, professionals and educators (of all kinds – youth workers, youth justice, criminal justice, sports coaches etc) have an enormous potential to support the positive, healthy and respectful development of boys and young men, but are we realising this potential? How seriously do Schools, Colleges, Universities or other Youth and educational settings take sex equality? What does sex equality and a healthy and respectful view of girls and women look like to a 5 year old? A 13 year old? a 19 year old? What’s it like to be a girl or woman in your institution? What kind of ‘box’ do we expect boys to fit into? Would phrases like ‘Man Up’, ‘Don’t run like a girl’, ‘Boys don’t cry’ go unchallenged where you work? Are they part of a spectrum that leads to serious negative outcomes for girls and women – and some young men themselves?

The fact is that most domestic and sexual violence is committed by men, even though most men are not violent. We believe this is not biological or pre-ordained – it’s social and cultural. So why do we allow it? Do we unwittingly reinforce ‘gender’ stereotypes in formative years that make violence and coercive control more likely later on? If we do, then the good news must be that we can change this narrative.

Promoting Respect, Preventing Violence : A CALL TO PROFESSIONALS

This groundbreaking one-day conference will be a valuable conversation-starter – for people working in all professional settings – around supporting the development of positive and healthy ways of being a man. We want to inspire and empower people to talk to boys and young men about what it means to be a man and how some narratives around ‘masculinity’ lead to harm for women and girls and – ultimately – for boys and men, too.

We want to link people, to highlight common ground between all kinds of educators and suggest ways of collaboration to effect social change through a range of progressive interventions in the lives of boys and young men.

We are extremely pleased to say that our group of confirmed speakers include nationally known campaigners and academics – women and men.

The day will take the form of two vital phases. The first: ‘Naming The Problem’. This phase we will look at how violence of all kinds against women and girls is ingrained in our cultures and what shapes that takes – domestic abuse, sexual violence and exploitation and coercive control. The second: ‘Creating Solutions’ will look at a range of approaches to engaging men and boys in challenging dysfunctional beliefs and values about women and girls with the aim of promoting progressive, egalitarian and respectful behaviours.

Assuming an optimum uptake by key stakeholders within education the event will provide a unique opportunity for Primary, Secondary and Tertiary practitioners – as well as a host of other settings (Youth Service, Sports, Youth Justice) where work is undertaken with boys and young men – to discuss in groups the role each plays in supporting the optimum development of young men. In the process of airing these perspectives we hope to establish commonality of purpose, responsibility and, ultimately, of opportunity.