Challenge the #Unspoken Rules












A challenge facing too many young men is the sense that they have to live up to the unspoken rules of masculinity – clichés such as “boys don’t cry” and “toughen up”. White Ribbon encourages everyone to challenge the unspoken rules, so we can let boys and young men enjoy their individuality and define themselves as men who have respectful relationships with themselves and their partners – creating happier, healthier communities for us all.

To find out just how many of us are told these damaging #UnspokenRules, we commissioned research which found that that 47% of men were told that ‘boys don’t cry’ while 65% were told that ‘boys should harden or toughen up’ when they were boys. Conversely only 9% of women were told that ‘girls don’t cry.’

We have the opportunity to use our voices as parents, caregivers and influencers to speak up over the #unspoken. By saying out loud to our boys and young men that it’s ok for them to be who they are, we can encourage them to define themselves as men who have respectful relationships – protecting our whole community.



Replacing the #Unspoken Rules

  • 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’, ‘have muscles’, assertive, tough, love rugby, enjoy time with other men and boys, enjoy a ‘pint’ with the lads. 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 and having Respectful Relationships (which always include consent).
  • Healthy masculinity is recognising that people express gender and sexuality in a variety of ways.

What can I do to promote Healthy Masculinity and Respectful Relationships?

Help us inform other parents and caregivers by sharing our Videos, Images, Toolboxes and Key Messages and Spoken Word

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