Manning up to stop violence against women


Sir Patrick Stewart this year addressed a problem that “is prevalent in every corner of the globe” [1] during a Q & A session in Houston, Texas at Comicpalooza. Using his own personal experiences of growing up with a father who abused his mother, he uses privileged position, and his fan base to make his insight become viral on the internet.

Throughout his response to a question asked by a member of the audience, he stressed the importance of men in improving the situation for women and children who are victims of gender based violence (GBV). In a UN study released this year about violence perpetrated by men in Asia and the Pacific, over 10,000 men were interviewed, and the information and evidence from men’s experiences was used to understand “Why do some men use violence against women and how can we prevent it?” [1] Using innovative technological techniques to enable anonymity the researchers got open responses from men who have perpetrated violence against their loved ones [2]. It is essential to improve understanding through men’s experiences to find the root causes and prevent violence from happening. There is agreement amongst NGOs and researchers is that prevention should be a priority, stopping the violence before it happens rather than allowing it to become a perpetual cycle of violence [3].

2 campaignIn modern day Lad Culture, men who show any sensitivity they are told to “man up” which is to mean “buck up” and “stop moaning”, if you are a man you need to be daringand show no signs of emotion since this makes you appear weak. 87% of men interviewed in the UN study believed that as a man they need to be tough [1].This isn’t just detrimental to women but it also leads to anxiety and pressure on men to dominate and lead and be successful breadwinners when it isn’t always possible and their frustration is often taken out on the women and children in the form of violence [4]. When men are told to “man up” this should mean something in a positive manner, to promote gentleness and change the cultural norms that see GBV as acceptable masculine behaviour [5]. The Man Up Campaign  is a global campaign that aims to redefine “man up” to mean speaking out about Violence Against Women. Its mission is to encourage the youth to get involved in combatting gender based violence. With its inclusive strategies, they include men in the conversation to make it no longer just a woman’s issue [5].

Getting men involved like Sir Patrick Stewart, who are victims and haven’t become violent, is the social force for change, their experiences build a picture of the origins of violent behaviour and help initiate the slow process needed to be taken to combat GBV [5]. They question the norms that condone violence, like the belief of 60% of the bangladeshi men interviewed who think that they were right to punish their wives [1] and 35.8% of Vietnamese wives aged 15-49 accept violence from their husbands [6]. Men like Sir Patrick Stewart, help disprove the inevitability that men are violent and they question the assumptions that their fathers had before them. As a man he can use his influence to confront society’s perception of masculinity that condones male dominance over women through violence, the cause of GBV [1] [3] [6].

There are many organisations and projects that aim to end GBV with the input of men and women together. Academics research these different organisations and NGOs and analyse their strategies. The first issue of the Gender & Development journal from this year is devoted to papers that research the involvement of men in encouraging gender equality. A journal that uses feminist perspectives to examine international development understands the importance of the involvement of men in order to support women’s rights and gender equality even aiming to alleviate the gender norms that cause men pain as well [4]. With research in all areas of the globe, on many different areas of involvement and they all come to the conclusion that getting men involved can help change social norms on what masculinity actually is. Getting men like Patrick Stewart speaking up about their experiences can reduce assumptions that being a man doesn’t mean protecting women and children but instead punishing women and taking out their frustration out on them. Being a man shouldn’t be just about being tough and assertive, it should be about being able to speak out for those who can’t and not having to resort to violence. So “man up” and help Stop Violence Against Women!

[1] Fulu, Emma, Xian Warner, Stephanie Miedema, Rachel Jewkes, Tim Roselli, and James Lang. Why Do Some Men Use Violence Against Women and How Can We Prevent It? Quantitative Findings from the United Nations Multi-country Study on Men and Violence in Asia and the Pacific. Bangkok: UNDP, UNFPA, UN Women and UNV, 2013. Available at:

[2] Fulu, Emma. “We can Prevent Violence Against Women, but We Need to Talk to the Men Too”. Huffingtonpost Impact UK 10th September 2013. Available at :

[3] Michau, Lori. (2007) “Approaching old problems in new ways: community mobilisation as a primary prevention strategy to combat violence against women.” Gender & Development 15, no. 1 (2007): 95-109.

[4] Sweetman, Caroline. “Introduction: Working with men on gender equality.” Gender & Development, 21, no. 1 (2013): 1-13.

[5] Bird, Susan, Rutilio Delgado, Larry Madrigal, John Bayron Ochoa and Walberto Tejeda. “Constructing an Alternative Masculine Identity. The Experience of the Centro Bartolomé de las Casas and Oxfam America in El Salvador” Gender & Development 15, no. 1 (2007): 111-121.

[6] Hoang, Tu-Anh, Trang Thu Quach, and Tam Thanh Tran. “‘Because I am a man, I should be gentle to my wife and my children’: positive masculinity to stop gender-based violence in a coastal district in Vietnam.” Gender & Development, 21, no. 1 (2013): 81-96.


Amnesty International:

The Man Up Campaign:


The Good Men Project and “25 ways to redefine the phrase “man up””:


About School of Politics and International Relations

This blog has been set up for the students of PO665, Advanced Topics in Politics and International Relations: Global Gender Justice, which is a course for final year Honours students in the School of Politics and International Relations at the University of Kent. As part of their participation in the course, students submit blog posts that examine issues pertaining to gender justice within the family, the community, the state and global society. We aim to explore the extent to which gender inequality within the state has an impact on state behaviour, with a specific focus on state development and state security, and further aim to analyse the effectiveness and limits of international organisations, international human rights instruments, NGOs and activists to bring about greater gender justice.
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