Starting when they are toddlers,
boys and men are
consistently and belligerently
taught to suppress their
Boys are forced to conform or face
the threat of expulsion and abuse
• Real men do not express their emotions, except for anger
• Real men are financial providers not care givers
• Real men are heterosexual and dominant in and out of the
• Real men are leaders and have the final word in any
• Real men are never unemployed
• Real men are always confident
• Real men play sports and talk about sports as their primary
mode of interaction
The pop culture environment that surrounds boys
introduces them to a world where traditionally
masculine traits- like toughness, aggression, and
stoicism- are highly esteemed and where female
influence is all but absent.
Even myths portray men as
aggressive and physically dominant
Men are not naturally more
violent but they are taught to be,
as the “right” way to react
Whenever there's a mass shooting or
massacre, there's a 98% chance the
perpetrator is a man.
20 s e x u a l a b u s e o f c h i l d r e n
“requires a high index of suspicion and familiarity with the verbal,
behavioural, and physical indicators of abuse.”5 As such, most victims of
child sexual abuse suffer in silence.
Nature and scope
Methodological and ethical challenges associated with interviewing
young children make research into child sexual abuse difficult. As a
result, most population-based analyses are retrospective: Adults (age 18
and older) and, in an increasing number of surveys, adolescents (usually
age 15 and over), are asked whether they had ever been exposed to
“unwanted” sexual activity during childhood. “Childhood” in these
studies varies from under 18 years of age to under 12 years of age.6
Unwanted sexual activity is often broken out by researchers into two
main categories: “contact” abuse, including vaginal or anal penetration
with a penis, finger or an object, or giving or receiving oral sex; and
“noncontact” abuse, such as being forced to watch pornography, to
disrobe or to view each others’ genitalia.
Outcomes of these studies vary widely. According to data collated from
25 countries worldwide, estimates of exposure for girls range from as low
as 2 percent in Samoa and Serbia and Montenegro to 30 percent or
higher in Barbados, Costa Rica and Switzerland. For boys, estimates
range from 1 percent in Norway to 20 percent in Nicaragua.7 It is
generally impossible to compare these statistics because none of the
research is standardised. Exactly what constitutes child sexual abuse and
which types of abuse are included differs from study to study.8 Based on
available data, the World Health Organization estimates that
approximately 25 percent of girls and 8 percent of boys around the globe
have been subjected to some form of child sexual abuse.9 Given its
hidden nature, these numbers most likely underrepresent the true scope
of the problem.
Regardless of its limitations, the growing body of research on child
sexual abuse has shed light on some common characteristics of this type
of violence. Girls, for example, are significantly more likely to be abused
than boys. In many parts of the world, however, boys may be even less
likely to report violence than girls, making the true extent of child sexual
abuse against boys a critical area for further study. In one notable survey
of secondary school and university stu
girls reported sexual abuse as childr
boys.10 But these findings are except
studies found that girls are one-and-a-h
report child sexual abuse than boys.11
indicates that compared with boys, gi
victimisation throughout childhood an
adolescence.12 Police statistics from co
Lithuania, South Africa and the United
all reported rapes are committed again
which are under age 12.13 In addition,
much greater risk of incest than boys.
to 60 percent of sexual abuse in famili
Perpetrators who abuse boys are mor
although in the Sri Lanka research cit
members as the primary perpetrator
physical and/or learning disabilities are
While women do commit sexual vio
majority of abusers are men, regardl
Contrary to popular perception, few pe
fathers, stepfathers, grandfathers, uncl
or family friends. They may be men
power in the community, such as teach
They also can be older children a
schoolmates or other acquaintances.
The peak age of vulnerability to child
at between age seven and age 13, bu
significantly underreported because o
and, in the case of retrospective stud
“virgin cure” infant rape in sub-Sah
attention to the problem of sexual abu
part of the world. The “virgin cure” is
Evidence suggests that it is currently
diseases, the extent of virgin-cure inf
researchers in South Africa.20 Its preva
well as in other in parts of the world
devastating for a baby:
While women do commit sexual violence against children, the vast majority of
abusers are men, regardless of the sex of the victim.
74 v i o l e n c e a g a i n s t g i r l s i n s c h o o l s
institutions are dominated by male teachers and male students, and
decision-making at all levels rests clearly in male hands. In Southern
Sudan, for example, less than 7 percent of teachers are women, and in
Bolivia only 16 percent of all head teachers are women. Women hold
only 30 percent or less of teaching posts in 16 countries of sub-Saharan
Africa.10 Female teachers usually are concentrated in urban settings, with
far fewer in rural and remote areas.
Such male-dominated contexts make it very difficult for girls to assert
themselves and to challenge male power. Doing so may mean ostracism
and losing the support of friends and family. Reports from South Africa,
for example, indicate that boys specifically target girls they perceive to
much larger number of them (63 percent) knew other girls who had
been approached. Girls reported that teachers were quite open about
their intentions, making advances on girls
during class and sports activities. Some girls
were thought to accept such propositions
for financial benefit, to be favoured in class,
to avoid punishment or to gain better
marks.15 In South Africa, one teacher who
sexually abused a number of students offered a young woman high
grades in exchange for sex:
“I went to his dorm and walked to the lounge. He gave me a hooch [an
alcoholic drink]. I was lame. I knew what was happening to me, but I
couldn’t move. He picked me up and took me to his room and started
taking my clothes off. He took his clothes off. He’s twice my size and,
like, five times my weight and has so many muscles. Then he penetrated
me. When I came to, I got up and went to my dorm. … I was scared to
tell anyone because I was afraid no one would believe me. I had been
Boys may feel the need to “prove” themselves, and one way of doing so is to
sexually harass girls, either verbally or physically — and to do so publicly. In
some circumstances this may go as far as gang rape.
We put Emotional Toughness
over Emotional Literacy
• The long-term challenges
emotional isolation can create are
• Living emotionally guarded lives
is robbing men of their hope, their
aspirations and for millions of
American men, their very lives.
We are raising our boys to lack
• Boys 4 and 5 years old are told to shake it
off, man up, don’t be a crybaby, and, worst
of all, don’t be a girl.
• This is because the Man Box devalues any
form of emotional expression traditionally
deemed to be feminine.
• A devastating result of this anti-feminine bias
is that women, gays, and trans people face
epidemic levels of bullying, rape, misogyny,
homophobia, and violence.
Last century, it was still ok to be
close to your male friends in the US
The term “homosexuality” was in fact not coined until
1869, and before that time, the strict dichotomy
between “gay” and “straight” did not yet exist.
• Attraction to, and sexual activity with other men was thought of as something you did, not
something you were. It was a behavior — accepted by some cultures and considered
sinful by others.
• But at the turn of the 20th century, the idea of homosexuality shifted from
a practice to a lifestyle and an identity.
• You did not have temptations towards a certain sin, you were a homosexual person.
Thinking of men as either “homosexual” or “heterosexual” became common.
• And this new category of identity was at the same time pathologized — decried by
psychiatrists as a mental illness, by ministers as a perversion, and by politicians as
something to be legislated against.
• As this new conception of homosexuality as a stigmatized and onerous identifier took root
in American culture, men began to be much more careful to not send messages to other
men, and to women, that they were gay.
• And this is the reason why, it is theorized, men have become less comfortable with
showing affection towards each other over the last century.
• After WWII, casually touching between men in photographs decreased precipitously. It first
vanished among middle-aged men, but lingered among younger men.
• But in the 50s, when homosexuality reached its peak of pathologization, eventually
they too created more space between themselves, and while still affectionate began to
interact with less ease and intimacy.
Touch Isolation: How Homophobia
Has Robbed All Men Of Touch
• The lack of touch in men’s lives results in
a higher likelihood of depression,
alcoholism, mental and physical illness.
• Put simply, touch isolation is making
men’s lives less healthy and more lonely.
Men are more lonely
• Men who do not connect emotionally, find it more
difficult to form lasting friendships,
typically relying on their wives or workplaces to
provide social connections.
• When they divorce or leave their workplaces,
those relationships falter, being more
circumstantial than emotionally resonant.
• The results? Widespread chronic loneliness for
men as they enter middle age.
• One in three men aged 45 or older reported
himself to be lonely or socially isolated, according
to a 2010 survey conducted by AARP.
The impact on health
• Between 1999 and 2010, suicide among men
aged 35–64 rose by nearly 30 percent, as
reported by the Centers for Disease Control
• Although rates have been rising for both
sexes, the study found that middle-aged
men are three times likelier than women to
end their own lives—27.3 deaths versus 8.1
"UNTIL WE ADDRESS OUR INABILITY
TO OPEN UP, WE'LL CONTINUE TO
DIE EARLY AND NEEDLESSLY"
Millennials are leading a much
broader acceptance of diversity
• This generation is witness to a collision
between traditional masculinity and a new
wave, one that values intimacy,
caregiving, and nurturing.
In Lebanon, ABAAD is campaigning to
challenge the traditional view of masculinity
Program H encourages critical
reflection about rigid norms
related to manhood
Once Upon a Boy is a no-words cartoon video that tells
the story of a boy and his experiences growing up,
including peer pressure, his first sexual relationship,
his first job, and becoming a father.
• The video is designed to engage young
men, educators, and health professionals
in critical reflections about rigid models of
masculinities and how they influence
young men’s attitudes and behaviors.
In Rwanda, Brazil and elsewhere, Promundo is
engaging fathers via prenatal visits
The Duke Men’s Project offers a nine-week program that
discusses male privilege, patriarchy, “the language of
dominance,” rape culture, pornography, machismo and other
Men as partners: promoting
TIPS FOR MEN:
HOW TO BE A 50/50 PARTNER
BraunS / Getty Images
TIPS FOR MEN:
HOW TO BE AN ALL-STAR DAD
Jodi Jacobson / Getty Images
TIPS FOR MEN
HOW TO BE AN ALL-STAR DAD
Involved dads raise happier, healthier, and more successful children.1
Moreover, kids beneﬁt when that involvement goes beyond the
traditional paternal role. When parents have 50/50 partnerships,
children grow up with more egalitarian views and can envision more
possibilities for themselves. Telling your kids “you can do anything”
is not nearly as effective as showing them they can!
TIP 1 BE AN ACTIVE FATHER
TIP 2 CLOSE THE WAGE GAP
TIP 3 CHALLENGE GENDER
TIP 4 HELP YOUR
TIP 5 DON’T TELL YOUR SON
TO “MAN UP!”
BE AN ACTIVE FATHER
DID YOU KNOW?
Fathers who participate in
caregiving are more patient,
empathetic, and ﬂexible and
enjoy greater job satisfaction.5
Fatherhood is also linked to lower
blood pressure, lower rates of
cardiovascular disease, and a
TO “MAN UP!”
BE AN ACTIVE FATHER
Spending time with your kids makes a big impact on their lives. Children with
involved fathers have higher self-esteem, better cognitive and social skills, fewer
behavioral problems, and higher academic achievement.2
This is true at every
income level and regardless of how involved mothers are. When fathers participate
in their lives, daughters have higher self-esteem and are more willing to try
new things and sons are better equipped to cope with stress and less likely to
What’s more, teenagers who feel close to their fathers end up in healthier,
Be an active and involved dad. Help with homework, read books together, talk
about your kids’ daily experiences and goals. You don’t have to be perfect—you
just have to be engaged.
1 LeanInTogether.Org #LeanInTogetherHOW TO BE AN ALL-STAR DAD
into small, achievable steps. Encourage her to reach outside of her comfort zone to
build conﬁdence. Just as she practices soccer or piano, she can practice small acts
of assertiveness like ordering at restaurants or shaking hands when she meets new
people. Get your daughter into sports or other organized activities where she’ll
learn to collaborate, speak up, mess up—and try again.
DON’T TELL YOUR SON
TO “MAN UP!”
As important as it is to teach your daughter to lead, it is equally important to teach
your son to respect his feelings and care for others. Movies, video games, and
comic books bombard boys with stories of men who are strong, aggressive, and in
charge but rarely vulnerable or nurturing. Boys often emulate these oversimpliﬁed
characters. As a father, you can model a more complete deﬁnition of manhood.
Teach your son to value intelligence and thoughtfulness over toughness.
Encourage him to respect his own feelings and have empathy for others.
Avoid language like “man up” or “be a man,” which can be as damaging to
boys as words like “bossy” and “know-it-all” can be for girls. Model gender
equality for your son by supporting the women in your life and celebrating
DID YOU KNOW?
Equality begets equality: Boys
who grow up in more equal
homes are more likely to create
equal homes as adults.17
3 LeanInTogether.Org #LeanInTogetherHOW TO BE AN ALL-STAR DAD
TIPS FOR MEN:
HOW TO BE A WORKPLACE MVP
HeroImages / Getty Images
Getty Images partnered with Lean in to
portray new masculine images
• What does it mean for you to be a man?
• Which stereotypes have been harmful to
• Is there anything you would like to change
in the way boys are raised?
• Which change would you like to