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Masculinities and health scoping review: a report prepared for VicHealth

Gender equality Masculinity Gender

Informed by VicHealth’s intention to better understand the role masculinity/ies can play in promoting gender equality, this scoping review paper provides a critical discussion of a body of literature pertaining to the concept of 'healthy or 'healthier' masculinities.

While relatively new, and subject to critical debate, this is a concept that has gained increasing traction in recent years among practitioners, health promoters, and academics. In short, it is a term that works as both an aspiration and a call to action.

While recognising masculinity is not the preserve of male bodies, the healthy masculinity/ies agenda is part of efforts to promote ideals for boys’ and men’s lives that are positive, diverse, and gender equitable. In this sense, healthy masculinity/ies connotes a gender performance that, put simply, insists upon the practice of less unhealthy, less problematic, more democratic sets of practices; encouraging men (or whomever) to be more conscious of their gender performance and its associated norms and how these have pernicious impacts on women and girls as well as on the self and other men. But what do we know about healthy masculinity/ies and how might we harness the current state of knowledge?

The present review set about answering this question, aiming to explore what health promotion methodologies are being used to promote and educate people about healthy and positive masculinities in the Victorian (and wider national and international) context; to, relatedly, establish what evaluation is being undertaken to measure attitudinal and sustained behavioural change and assess the evidence for effective strategies; and to engage with and learn from the wider academic research literature pertaining to healthy masculinity/ies.

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