There are many ways to be a man in Australia. Evidence shows that healthier expressions of masculinity could be one key way to promote gender equality and improved wellbeing for everyone. VicHealth’s new Healthier Masculinities framework provides more information on this emerging research area.
We’ve reviewed a wide range of research to better understand the role healthier masculinities can play in promoting gender equality, health and wellbeing.
We found that many men feel pressure to conform to stereotypes that dictate what men should be and how they should act.
This pressure is clearly demonstrated in a study by the Men’s Project, an initiative of Jesuit Social Services, which explored attitudes to manhood among Australian men aged 18-30.
They discovered that men are constrained by the negative rules of the ‘Man Box’, a term used to illustrate the feeling of being trapped by unhealthy male stereotypes. The rules of the Man Box include self-sufficiency, acting tough, rigid gender roles, hypersexuality and aggression.
These ideologies are dictating what it means to be a ‘real man’ and can lead to harmful behaviours contributing to gender inequality and poorer health and wellbeing for men.
You can learn more about the topic of healthier masculinities in our review, which has been used to develop a framework for future health promotion work. It seeks to inspire change by encouraging practitioners to consider masculine norms and stereotypes, particularly when working with men and boys.
Download the scoping review here: Healthier masculinities scoping review (PDF, 563 KB)
Healthier Masculinities framework
Using the scoping review findings as a base, VicHealth developed the Healthier Masculinities Framework to build understanding and support good practice programs and project design. The framework is a comprehensive tool that:
- compares harmful and healthy masculinities
- describes the current evidence
- lists good practice principles and design for programs and projects
- lays out the frames for action with examples of taking a healthy masculinities approach to health promotion.
Download the Healthier Masculinities framework here: Healthier masculinities framework (PDF, 407 KB)
We would like to thank all the organisations and researchers who contributed to this work. Download the full list here.
More information on the emerging field of healthier masculinities
The Men’s Project
You can access the full research report on the ‘Man Box’ here: https://jss.org.au/what-we-do/the-mens-project/the-man-box/
The recent study Men in focus, is an extensive review of Australian and international research on the topic of the ‘tough man’ stereotype. It aims to build a deeper understanding of masculinity, as well as providing guidance for those working with men and boys to prevent violence against women.
Our Watch 2019 Men in focus: unpacking masculinities and engaging men in the prevention of violence against women, Melbourne. www.ourwatch.org.au/News-media/Latest-news/Tough-man-stereotype-hurts-women-and-men-report
VicHealth’s Mental Wellbeing Strategy
To find out more about the scope of VicHealth’s work on gender equality and healthier masculinities for young men and boys, see our Mental Wellbeing Strategy 2019-2023: https://www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/media-and-resources/publications/mental-wellbeing-strategy
Certified male: promoting healthier masculinities
Read VicHealth’s thought-provoking article on healthier masculinities here: