Frightening Australian statistics should reinforce the need to promote healthy masculinity in New Zealand

Media Release
15 November


42% of young men in Australia do not consider punching and hitting constitute domestic violence, while 43% do not consider frightening, humiliating, degrading or punishing a person as domestic violence.

“This is shocking”, says White Ribbon Manager Rob McCann. “While we don’t have a similar study in New Zealand, Police data for the year to August show that women make up 90% of those violently assaulted by a partner or ex, and 98.6% of those sexually assaulted by a partner or ex and we have the highest rate of reported violence towards women in the developed world.”

“Violence in our communities remains appallingly high and if we are to tackle this violence we need to focus on the attitudes that enable young men to think violence is ok and that trap them in the man box,” said Mr McCann.

Women’s Refuge CE Dr Ang Jury agrees. “We are seeing consistently high numbers of women and families taking refuge from violent men. As a country we need to take this opportunity and look at the causes of the violence. If we want to have a courageous discussion, then let’s talk about what constitutes masculinity and ensure our young men are being supported to grow up with healthy attitudes about masculinity that support respectful relationships.”

“The reality is that until we overwrite the ideas that allow men to think they can humiliate, degrade or use physical violence against anyone, we will continue to see outrageous numbers of women forced to use refuges throughout New Zealand”, said Dr Jury.

The #Outdated Campaign asks men to speak up about the #Outdated ideas they hear and the image they feel pressured to replicate.

“This November we want to highlight behaviour that exemplifies healthy masculinity,” says Mr McCann, “and in doing so we will challenge the #Outdated. The campaign demonstrates how we can overwrite unhealthy ideas and replace them with inclusive and healthy attitudes.

Healthy masculinity is about being kind, empathetic, finding peaceful resolutions to problems. It is about boys and men being confident in who they are without feeling pressure to be a certain type of boy/man.”

“To take part in the campaign simply have a conversation with your children, your friends, colleagues or your partner about #Outdated ideas, share the free online content or visit to find out more and help change how we see masculinity in Aotearoa,” said Mr McCann.




Healthy Masculinity looks like:

  • Healthy masculinity is rejecting unhelpful outdated stereotypes and unspoken rules about what it is to be a boy or man.
  • Healthy masculinity is about being kind, empathetic, finding peaceful resolutions to problems.
  • Healthy masculinity is about boys and men being confident in who they are without feeling pressure to be a certain type of boy/man.
  • Boys and men can still be ‘brave’, and have ‘muscles’, be assertive, tough, love rugby, enjoy time with other men and boys, enjoy a ‘pint’ with the lads (for men!). But boys and men should also be free to express sad emotions, enjoy cooking, dancing, gardening and anything else that does not fit into gender stereotypes.
  • Healthy masculinity is treating everyone with respect.
  • Healthy masculinity is recognising that people express gender and sexuality in a variety of ways.


The Man Box

  • White Ribbon calls the expectations that men must always appear dominant, tough and in charge “The Man Box”.
  • It’s a box that’s prescriptive and restrictive. Any different behaviours are dismissed as being not manly.
  • Often a boy and a man will believe he needs to appear tough and in-control in front of other men. This is from a fear, real or not, that they’ll reject him, possibly violently, if he doesn’t fit in. Being told to ‘Man Up’ is to be reminded to get back into The Man Box. A man may use violence to show his peers he is manly.
  • Suppressing individual identities and diverse emotional responses is stressful. It’s also unhealthy as these men avoid asking for help.
  • Men who break out of The Man Box to choose their own masculine identity report that they’re less stressed, more satisfied with life and have happier relationships.


Australian Research

Conducted by Essential Research in Australia. Download age and gender results here

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