Author: Brian Heilman with Gary Barker
Year: 2018
Full Citation: Heilman, B., with Barker, G. (2018). Masculine Norms and Violence: Making the Connections. Washington, DC: Promundo-US.
Target Population(s): ,
Overview: Male identity and masculine norms are undeniably linked with violence, with men and boys disproportionately likely both to perpetrate violent crimes and to die by homicide and suicide. While biology may play a role in shaping a tendency toward certain forms of violence, the “nature” of men and boys is not the sole predictor of their violent behaviors or experiences. Rather, boys and men are often raised, socialized, and/or encouraged to be violent, depending on their social surroundings and life conditions. Why is it that men and boys are disproportionately likely to perpetrate so many forms of violence, as well as to suffer certain forms of violence? To add a new dimension to the complex answer, this report explores “masculine norms” – messages, stereotypes, and social instructions related to manhood that supersede and interact with being born male or identifying as a man – as crucial factors driving men’s violence. It combines a review of academic and grey literature with program evidence and input from expert reviewers across several fields of violence prevention, making the connections between harmful masculine norms and eight forms of violent behavior:
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Physical violence against children (by parents or caregivers)
  • Child sexual abuse and exploitation
  • Bullying
  • Homicide and other violent crime
  • Non-partner sexual violence
  • Suicide
  • Conflict and war
This report is not intended to be an exhaustive review of the evidence. Rather, it is an introductory-level analysis of key research findings on the links between harmful masculine norms and violent behaviors, as well as a contribution to an ongoing conversation on how to disassociate masculine norms from violence. While this report focuses on how violence is often generated as part of male socialization, it also seeks to present examples and research on men and boys’ resistance to harmful masculine norms and violence.

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