Stand Up

White Ribbon promotes respectful relationships between men and women. Respect is the behaviour we want instead of violence.

We’re asking men to ‘stand up’ by taking the online pledge and committing to take one or more actions.

The eight actions offer men choices – to listen, reflect, alter their behaviour, talk to others and disrupt negative behaviour – which build respectful behaviour that undermines violence.

Once they’ve chosen an action, they will receive an email linking them with a White Ribbon toolbox and a video with useful information on how to proceed and achieve their goal.

We are asking New Zealanders to activate their networks of friends, colleagues and acquaintances. And then asking them to do the same to challenge their friends to take The Pledge and Stand Up, Speak out, and Act to prevent men’s violence towards women.


The key messages are:

Men Stand Up and prevent violence towards women.
Encouraging men to stand up and speak out and act to prevent violence towards women by taking The Pledge and committing to take one of eight specific actions. Men can make this commitment and learn more at

Men back up their stand with real actions (these are the eight actions).
White Ribbon supports men to commit to taking at least one of these eight actions to show their respect. They’re the right thing to do:

  • Listening and believing women.
  • Reflecting on and changing their behaviour.
  • Disrupting other men’s violence towards women.
  • Treating women as equals.
  • Choose how to be a man and how I will act.
  • Talk to a young man about breaking out of the Man Box (more information below).
  • Think about what they watch and the media they use.
  • Talk with young men about respectful relationships and pornography.

Men who stand up show they respect women.
Living by respectful values and doing the right thing is key to the respectful relationships White Ribbon promotes. This prevents violence. Learn more from the toolboxes.

Women have asked men to take these actions.
These actions are what women have asked men to do to make their lives better. This campaign is White Ribbon’s positive response to what the women of the #MeToo movement have asked for. These actions will prevent violence and improve the lives of women. They’re the right thing for men to do.

Men’s respectful behaviour prevents violence.
Respectful relationships are based on: treating women as equals; choosing your own identities and behaviour to be your own man; using non-violent communication; and ensuring enthusiastic consent for sexual relationships. These actions prevent men’s violence towards women, and can make everyone, including the man, happier and healthier.  There’s more on respectful relationships at in the heading ‘What prevents men’s violence?’


The Eight Actions

Action # 1 Talk to women about their experiences with men – and believe what they tell you.

Listening to and believing a woman is a good thing for both of you. You’ll get a more satisfying, respectful relationship and she’ll feel understood and respected. That’s a win/win.

You’ll learn how women can be hurt by men’s behaviour, and how they can feel unsafe in ways you maybe haven’t thought about, like walking home at night or working with a colleague who makes sexual comments. Try to feel how it is for her – don’t make it about you.

Don’t judge, or jump in with your answers. You can try just repeating back what she’s said in your own words, then ask her if there’s anything she wants to do. You don’t need to explain that not all men are bad – she knows.

Check out these for more info: Respectful Relationship Toolbox and Respectful Sexual Relationships Toolbox.

ACTION 01 Talk to Women about their experiences with men from White Ribbon on Vimeo.


Action # 2 Ask myself how I’ve treated women, and how I can behave more respectfully

You want to be respectful, right? So, check in with yourself. You’ll know if there’ve been times you’ve hurt women and haven’t been as respectful as you want to be. It may have been physical, or you used words or manipulation to bully her. Before, you might not have known why she was unhappy, but now you can see that she was feeling unsafe – because you’ve been listening and believing. Whether it was years ago or just today, you’ll be able to see how you could’ve acted differently.

Put aside the shame and act. It’s not fun thinking about times when you’ve behaved badly. Don’t beat yourself up about it – it’s in the past and now you can do better. It’ll be heaps easier if you talk to a mate about this – someone who gets what you’re trying to do.

Once you’ve decided what you could have done differently, decide on simple things you’ll change, like taking time out to calm down if you’re angry, or listening more to what she’s saying before reacting.

Know your triggers. There are times when you’re more likely to lose it. It might be when you’re angry, stressed, feeling embarrassed, drunk or on drugs – have a think about what situations trigger you, and come up with better ways to handle these times in future. For example, pick times when you’re calm and alcohol-free to have proper conversations with women.
You can be the guy you want to be – it just starts with a commitment to act respectfully.

Check out more ideas in the ‘Power of Behaviour’ section here.

ACTION 02 Ask myself how I’ve treated women from White Ribbon on Vimeo.


Action # 3 Disrupt other men when they disrespect or threaten women

You can make a difference. Your actions can help promote respectful relationships and prevent violence. Remember, most men are pretty good guys – they don’t use violence, and don’t want other men disrespecting women. So, when you talk about this more, it’ll influence other guys to be more respectful towards women.

Here are some ways you can back up other men’s respectful behaviour:

  • Showing that you respect women, especially when you’re alone with your mates. Use respectful, appreciative words when talking about women. This shows it’s OK to be respectful.
  • Get in behind other men who show respect for women, or who challenge other men’s bad behaviour. Say things like, “Yeah, you’re right”, instead of staying silent.
  • Step in when another man makes disrespectful comments, so he knows he’s out of line. Say, “Come on, mate, you’re better than that”, “Bro, not cool” or “He mana wahine ehoa”.
  • Learn safe ways to stop any harassment or violence you see against a woman at (link to Step Up Stop Violence toolbox).

Do these things and you’ll help stop violence, while encouraging other men be more respectful. That’s the right thing to do and helps you be the guy you want to be.

Get more info about safe ways in the Step Up Stop Violence Toolbox.

ACTION 03 Disrupt other men from White Ribbon on Vimeo.


Action # 4 Treat women as equals in everything I do

Women are your equals. Treating them that way is good for everyone. Men who treat women as equals have less stress and are healthier and happier. They have more peaceful relationships, and they give their daughters a better start in life.

Here’s how you begin:

  • Respect women as your equals and appreciate their strengths. We don’t all have to be the same to be just as good.
  • Do your bit to make sure women have a fair share of power and resource in your workplace and community. We know that there’s more violence towards women in places where they don’t have equal power.
  • Check in – are you treating women the same as you would men? Do you use the same words and names for both? You might need to get feedback from women – listen to what that says about your behaviour.
  • Turn it back on yourself – If someone is treated differently simply because of their gender, they’re probably not being treated as an equal. Would you like to be treated like that?

Find more info in the ‘Power of Behaviour’ section of the Respectful Relationship Toolbox.

ACTION 04 Treat women as equals from White Ribbon on Vimeo.


Action # 5 Choose how I will be a man and how I will act

Be more open minded about what it means to be a man. This gives you more choices and will make you happier and healthier. It’s less stressful, and it can give you more peaceful and respectful relationships with women – and your kids. Holding to rigid ideas about being ‘man enough’, and trying to fit in by appearing tough, aggressive and in charge, limits you and hurts the people around you. Being your true self around other guys is more comfortable.

Break out of the ‘man box’. The restrictive ‘man box’ only allows you to be a certain way, and often leads to violence. These behaviours are sometimes called ‘toxic masculinity’ because of the damage they cause. You can break out of the ‘man box’ by choosing your actions and being more flexible – that is, be the real person others want to be around. You’ll have more true friendships with your mates, especially if you also accept their choices too.

Check out White Ribbon’s new ‘Breaking Out of the Man Box’ Toolbox.
Get more info from the ‘Power of Behaviour’ section of the Respectful Relationships Toolbox.
Check out White Ribbon’s film Raise Our Men

ACTION 05 Choose how I will be a man from White Ribbon on Vimeo.


Action # 6 Talk with a young man about ‘breaking out of the man box’

You’ve seen a better way to be a man – you can help others do that too, especially young men who look up to you. When a young man makes his own choices he’ll end up happier, healthier and with better relationships. There’s lots of peer pressure on a young guy to prove he fits in with others. And media messages about being tough and aggressive will mean he feels confused and vulnerable.

Take every opportunity to talk to him about how men appear on TV, among his friends, and in the whanau. Talk to him about the ‘man box’ – where men must appear tough, aggressive and in charge in front of other men. Share what you know about yourself, and how ‘man box’ behaviour affects others.

Listen to his side. Listen to how it is for him. Encourage him to try out different ways to express his identity and values, and give him kudos when he gets it right. Make sure he knows it’s OK to share feelings and that sometimes he doesn’t know what to do.
Just through your own behaviour, you can give him a good example of how to manage pressure to fit in, and to support his mates to be themselves too.

Find out more in White Ribbon’s new ‘Breaking Out of the Man Box’ Toolbox
and in the ‘Power of Behaviour’ section of the Respectful Relationships Toolbox.
Check out White Ribbon’s film Raise Our Men

ACTION 06 Talk with young men – the man box from White Ribbon on Vimeo.


Action # 7 Think about what I’m watching and the media I use

Choose the media that’ll make you a better guy. Whatever you’re watching, think about how many putdowns of women you’ve heard, or how many guys you’ve seen ‘manning up’ in the last week. All those images reinforce the idea that men should be in charge, tough and aggressive – and win the trophy girl.
Sure, they’re just stories, but they will affect your attitude towards women, and can make men’s violence against women seem more normal.

Porn – it’s just not real. Porn shows women only as sex objects and that men have uncontrollable desires. That’s just not reality. Porn is missing the behaviour that makes sex satisfying, meaningful and respectful, like being safe, asking for and giving consent and being respectful, caring or loving.
Use your ‘crap-detector’ for everything you watch. Check yourself – how’s all that media affecting your thoughts about women and how you treat them? Make a stand, treat women with respect, and deliberately choose to only watch media that reflects your values.

Check out the ‘Power of Behaviour’ section of the Respectful Relationships Toolbox for more info.

Action # 8 Talk with young men about respectful relationships and porn

You can help young men respect women and have good relationships just by encouraging them to think about everything they’re seeing. Are they getting a load of media – including porn – that makes disrespect or violence towards women seem normal? Ask them what they think about it all

Give porn a reality check. Be clear with them – porn isn’t real. It doesn’t show any real relationships, and the sex is often degrading, violent or disrespectful to women. Talk about what respectful sexual behaviour looks like – and how you won’t see it in most porn.
Get them thinking about what sort of guys they want to be and how choosing to watch things that goes against that will make it harder.

There’s lots more advice to help you do this in the Raising Boys Who Respect Toolbox.

ACTION 08 Talk with young men about respectful relationships and porn from White Ribbon on Vimeo.


Help to spread the message by sharing a Stand Up video on your social media.

Help to spread the message by sharing a Facebook post on your social media.

This information will help put the Stand Up message in context.

What causes men’s violence towards women?
It is rigid ideas about gender[1] and roles that contribute to men’s use of violence against females[2].

Even with 80% of family and intimate-partner violence incidents going unreported, New Zealand still has the worst rate for this violence in the world[3]. And our country has the third highest rate of sexual assault in the world[4]. This indicates that too many New Zealand men still express their masculinity through dominance and power over women.

Specific links between masculinity and violence are:

  • Where a culture expects masculinity to involve dominance and toughness there is male violence against females.
  • If an individual man over-conforms to perceived male gender expectations of strength, power and domination, he is more likely to rape women.
  • There’s more sexual violence where men and women have segregated lives, a belief in male sexual conquest, strong male bonding, high alcohol consumption, use of pornography, and sexist social norms.[5]
  • Sexual violence serving as a tool for men and boys to prove their manhood, achieve the social status of a “real man,” and establish power over others[6].
  • When men believe that they are not – or are not perceived to be – “masculine enough,” they may use intimate partner violence to overcompensate or conform with gendered expectations. [7]


What is the Man Box?
White Ribbon calls the expectations that men must always appear dominant, tough and in charge “The Man Box”[8].

It’s a box that’s prescriptive and restrictive. Any different behaviours are dismissed as ‘being a girl’ or ‘gay’ i.e. 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[9].

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[10].

They’re also much less likely to use violence against women. Having all men breaking out of the Man Box will help to eliminate men’s violence against women.

White Ribbon has a new toolbox to support men to break out of the Man Box.

Raise Our Men is a 35-minute film featuring interviews with New Zealand men talking about their experience of being socialised as a boy and their experiences as a man. The film is designed to prompt men to choose to be more respectful towards women and break out of the man box.


What prevents men’s violence?
White Ribbon promotes respectful relationships to prevent domestic and sexual violence against women.

Respectful relationships are based on:

  • Equality between men and women. Gender equity in personal relationships and all social spheres, reduces violence against women.
  • Flexible gender behaviour for all. Having men breaking out of the Man Box and choosing their own masculine identity prevents their use of violence.
  • Non-violent communication. Men being emotionally aware and expressive gives them alternatives to aggression.
  • Enthusiastic consent for all sexual activities. Having willing participation is crucial to preventing sexual violence.

White Ribbon also promotes adult men promoting the respectful behaviour of younger men. It also encourages men to be critical of pornography, especially the ways it promotes violence against women[11].

White Ribbon’s toolboxes support men to behave respectfully and for care-givers to influence young men.

Promoting the key features of respectful relationships is an established, proven violence prevention strategy. It is also a positive approach that effectively engages men[12].


Why is White Ribbon supporting #MeToo?
The women of the #MeToo movement have clearly asked for men to change their behaviour to stop the men’s violence towards women.

The behaviours they want fit within the respectful relationships White Ribbon promotes.

#MeToo’s call for men to break out of the Man Box, and to listen and believe women, to reflect and change, and to intervene with other men. These are the actions of a respectful man and are already promoted by White Ribbon’s toolboxes.

White Ribbon also recognises that #MeToo provides a unique opportunity. The heightened awareness of women’s experiences and a greater commitment to preventing men’s violence makes it an ideal time to promote respectful behaviours.

White Ribbon toolboxes promote positive ways men can respond to #MeToo.


Has the #MeToo movement made a difference?
Since #MeToo emerged a year ago, there’s a greater understanding of the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault, and increased credibility offered to victims. And it’s also clear to perpetrators that even if they don’t suffer legal consequences, there will be social consequences.

The #MeToo movement has specifically asked men to:

  • Break out of the Man Box and transform their masculine identities and behaviours to be more respectful and healthier.
  • Listen and believe women talking about their experiences of men.
  • Reflect on their past behaviour and to change their future behaviour.
  • Use their unique position as a male peer to actively intervene to prevent other men’s violence.

Men reported that while many had not heard of #MeToo, others had a range of reactions, from hope to fear; some were sceptical while others were supportive. There was a theme that many men were now uncertain how to act towards women, such as in a workplace[13].

There will be a range of understanding among your audiences. There could be some individuals who oppose #MeToo. Focusing on respectful behaviour as ‘the right thing for men to do’ is a way to gain support for White Ribbon’s messages.

Overall, #MeToo has created a unique opportunity that campaigns LIKE White Ribbon can build on.


What is ‘male socialisation ‘and how it links with violence?
‘Male socialisation’ is how a boy’s social environment influences his behaviour. It is how he learns his masculine behaviour and about using violence against females.

If a boy grows up in a family with traditional gender roles he’s more likely to physically and sexually abuse women, especially if he witnesses or experiences violence[14].

But if he sees women being treated as equals and men exhibiting a wide range of behaviours, especially those considered feminine, he is much less likely to use violence. He’ll also be more satisfied with life and have happier relationships[15].

An adult man can demonstrate the ongoing effects of his socialisation by believing he needs to always appear tough and in-control in front of other men. If he believes he’s not perceived to be “masculine enough,” he may use violence to overcompensate or conform with gendered expectations[16].

Encouraging men to choose their own identity and to live by their own, respectful values breaks the need for them to limit themselves to other men’s perceived expectations.

White Ribbon’s toolboxes offer help on breaking out of the Man Box.

Bringing up boys so they choose their own identity and actions will significantly reduce the risk they’ll use violence. It will also make them healthier and happy men.

White Ribbon offers toolboxes for fathers and caregivers on how to do this.

White Ribbon’s film Raise Our Men covers this topic and offers solutions.


What are ‘social norms’ and how they support violence?
Social norms are the informal understanding about how to behave.

Social norms have a significant influence in determining men’s behaviour, particularly in perpetuating male power and privilege[17]. It’s these norms that maintain high levels of violence against women, despite it being illegal, so changing male social norms is a key to preventing men’s violence[18].

Men tend to incorrectly assume that most men use violence when they don’t, and they routinely overestimate other men’s comfort with sexist, coercive and derogatory comments about, and behaviour towards, women. Consequently, the men who oppose violence mistakenly believe they are in a minority, so keep quiet. This, in turn, can be incorrectly interpreted as approval for violence by others[19].

White Ribbon seeks to correct these distortions with information that most men are non-violent and support respectful behaviour.

Secondly, men typically underestimate other men’s willingness to intervene in violence against women. The most significant factor in whether a man will intervene to stop sexual assault is his perception of what other men would do[20].

Letting men know that their peers also oppose violence is crucial for men to publicly act to prevent violence.


How does ‘gender equality’ fit into this?
‘Promoting gender equality’ as one of the essential strategies for preventing violence, especially violence towards women.

Where there is female inequity – within relationships and whanau, but also socially, economically and politically, it is reinforced by men’s violence.

Having men and women as equal will prevent men’s violence[21].


What’s this ‘toxic masculinity’ people are talking about?
The #MeToo movement has been talking about ‘toxic masculinity’, as a shorthand term for the traditional expectations of male power, dominance and toughness. This is what White Ribbon calls the Man Box.

It is called ‘toxic’ as it damages people around the man, who’re victims of his violence. It also damages the man’s physical and mental health.

It is not masculinity, per se, that is toxic, just this particular interpretation of it. It maybe more useful to talk about toxic masculine behaviour to highlight it is specific actions that are unacceptable, rather than being male. And it is his behaviour, rather than his biology, that a man can change.

White Ribbon’s toolboxes offer help for men to break out of the Man Box.


And what’s is ‘rape culture’?
‘Rape culture’ refers to when society normalises sexualised violence. By doing that we accept and create rape culture.

Rape culture includes jokes, TV, music, advertising, legal jargon, laws, words and imagery, that make violence against women and sexual coercion seem so normal that people believe that rape is inevitable. Rather than viewing the culture of rape as a problem to change, people in a rape culture think about the persistence of rape as “just the way things are.”[22]

White Ribbon focuses on changing men’s social norms to undermine their support of sexual violence. Having men break out of the Man Box prevents a ‘rape culture’ from developing.

Examples of Rape Culture

  • Blaming the victim (“She asked for it!”)
  • Trivialising sexual assault (“Boys will be boys!”)
  • Sexually explicit jokes
  • Tolerance of sexual harassment
  • Inflating false rape report statistics
  • Publicly scrutinizing a victim’s dress, mental state, motives, and history
  • Gratuitous gendered violence in movies and television
  • Defining “manhood” as dominant and sexually aggressive
  • Defining “womanhood” as submissive and sexually passive
  • Pressure on men to “score”
  • Pressure on women to not appear “cold”
  • Assuming only promiscuous women get raped
  • Assuming that men don’t get raped or that only “weak” men get raped
  • Refusing to take rape accusations seriously
  • Teaching women to avoid getting raped [23]


Why focus on men’s violence?
Throughout the world, historically and in the present, a much greater number of men use domestic and sexual violence than women.

This is consistently identified by international population-based surveys and New Zealand data confirms that it is kiwi men committing most violence[24]:

  • 90% of individuals sexually abusing children and young people are male[25].
  • These were 64 males for each female among the 712 individuals convicted for sexual assault and related offences in 2016[26].
  • An average of 72% of offenders linked with family violence investigations are male[27].
  • 88% of protection orders are taken against a male, on average[28].

Men’s violence also results in more severe outcomes. Women are three times more likely than men to be injured because of intimate partner violence; more likely to report more severe forms of violence; and twice as likely to report being victimised on more than 10 occasions. Women are much more likely to require medical attention, to be fearful for themselves and their children, and to have depression, anxiety attacks, sleep problems or lowered self-esteem[29].

Even if a man is not violent, their attitudes tend to support violence. Generally, men are more likely to: agree with myths and beliefs supporting violence against women; define violence more narrowly; minimise the harms and blame or show less empathy for victims; and see violence against women as less serious, damaging or inappropriate than women do[30].

Given that men’s violence is both the most prevalent and damaging it is an obvious focus for prevention strategies. Targeting men’s gendered behaviour is crucial; and changing New Zealand men’s attitudes, behaviours, identities, and relations is critical to eliminating violence[31].

The international White Ribbon’s movement developed after the brutal mass shooting of 14 women by a man in Canada and the focus remains on preventing men’s violence against women[32].


Online Resources
There are seven Toolboxes available for free on the website. These are great tools to point men and agencies towards. Raising Boys Who Respect, Respectful Sexual Relationships, Start With Respect, Step Up Stop Violence (and take other men with you), What Kind of Guy do you Wanna Be? There are also two new toolboxes, Breaking out of the Man Box, and Supporting #MeToo.

The White Ribbon Film Raising our Men is free to download on the website and the website also has all the posters and logos available for downloading here.

Order resources via the White Ribbon Shop.



  • New Zealand has the highest rate of reported violence towards women in the developed world
  • Police investigated 118,910 family violence incidents in 2016 or about one every five minutes
  • That’s 41% of a front line officers time
  • One in three women will experience partner violence at some point in their lives
  • Less than 20 percent of abuse cases are reported
  • Approximately 3,500 convictions are recorded against men each year for assaults on women
  • On average, 14 women a year are killed by their partners or ex-partners
  • Between 2009 and 2015, there were 92 IPV (Intimate partner Violence) deaths. In 98% of death events where there was a recorded history of abuse, women were the primary victim, abused by their male partner.
  • Family violence accounts for half of all reported serious crime [33]

[1] Gender is the socially determined, learnt behaviour for males or females, compared to sex, which is biologically determined

[2] Page 9, Brian Heilman with Gary Barker (2018). Masculine Norms and Violence: Making the Connections. Washington, DC: Promundo-US. From

[3] From

[4] From

[5] All information from pages 8-10, Baker, G. (2013). Effectively involving men in preventing violence against women. Auckland, New Zealand: New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse, University of Auckland, from

[6] Page 11, Brian Heilman with Gary Barker (2018).

[7] Page 9, Ibid.

[8] The Man Box behaviours is also sometimes called ‘toxic masculinity’, as they damage those around the men, often with violence, and the behaviour often harms his own wellbeing

[9] Page 9, Brian Heilman with Gary Barker (2018)

[10] Pages 19, Baker, G. (2013).

[11] See

[12] Pages 12-16, Baker, G. (2013).

[13] All information from Baker, G. (2018). Report on howWhite Ribbon New Zealand can align with the #MeToo movement Available from

[14] Page 9, Baker, G. (2013).

[15] Page 19, Ibid.

[16] Page 9, Brian Heilman with Gary Barker (2018).

[17] Page 15, Baker, G. (2013).

[18] Page 9, Ibid.

[19] Page 15, Ibid.

[20] Page 15, Ibid.

[21] Page 12, Ibid.

[22] WAVAW Rape Crisis

[23] See

[24] Page 6, Baker, G. (2013). Effectively involving men in preventing violence against women. Auckland, New Zealand: New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse, University of Auckland, from

[25] Page 5, Data Summary: Child Sexual Abuse and Adult Sexual Violence – Perpetration by Gender, June 2017 New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse, University of Auckland, from

[26] Page 9, Baker, G. (2013).

[27] Page 3, Data Summary: Violence Against Women, June 2017, New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse, University of Auckland, from

[28] Page 16, Ibid.

[29] Page 8, Baker, G. (2013).

[30] Page 10, Baker, G. (2013).

[31] Page 8, Baker, G. (2013).

[32] See

33] See the section ‘Why does White Ribbon focus on men’s violence?’

[34] Moffitt, T.E., and A. Caspi. Findings about Partner Violence from the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study. Research in Brief. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice, 1999, NCJ 170018.

[35] See

[36] See

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