Man in Box

Man in Box

Saturday, April 03, 2021

How Do I Define My Gender if No One Is Watching Me?

The article copied below is recommended for this trans person's experience of the social isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic affected their perception of self.  It offers insights into the social aspect of our gender identities and the dislocating aspects and benefits of liberating ourselves (and others?) from the 'binary gaze' of the society we currently live in.


How Do I Define My Gender if No One Is Watching Me?
by Alex Marzano-Lesnevich, April 2, 2021

When the world went into lockdown five months after I started taking testosterone, I thought it would be easier not to see people for a while. Maybe they wouldn’t hear my voice go scratchy or see up close the hormonal acne splattered across my face. Alone in my apartment, I imagined that all my difficulties in being seen and recognized as transgender-nonbinary would evaporate. No one would gender me except myself; my pronouns would be right there in the text box on my Zoom screen.

So I was surprised by how much my gender instead seemed to almost evaporate. No longer on the alert for how to signal a restaurant’s waitstaff that neither “he” nor “she” applied to me, or for whether colleagues and neighbors would use the right language — devoid of anyone to signal my gender to — I felt, suddenly, amorphous and undefined. It was as though when I had swapped my Oxford shoes and neckties for fuzzy slippers and soft sweatpants, I, too, had lost my sharply tailored definition.

After I podded with two trans friends, the only people I saw from closer than six feet were also nonbinary, neither men nor women. Among us, not only the once-ubiquitous binary but also any gender expectations had vanished.

Where did my own gender reside, then, if not in sending signals of difference? My friends and I had long joked, “Gender is a social construct!” every time one of us needed shoring up after a messy encounter with the expectations of the gender-conforming heterosexual world. But without that world, we now added a rueful punchline: “Too bad there’s no more ‘social’!”

I would have imagined this new expansiveness would be freeing. Instead, it was at first disorienting. With the gender binary all but gone, what did it mean to be nonbinary? How do I define my gender when I — accustomed to how visible my gender usually makes me — am no longer being watched?

Wanting to understand how others were adjusting to the pandemic change, I reached out to Rebecca Minor, a licensed clinical social worker who works with trans youth. “What’s really struck me,” she told me, “is that removing the peer gaze has allowed for more gender experimentation.”

Ms. Minor is in private practice and estimates that 85 percent of her clients are transgender. She works with teenagers, who are at an age when they spend endless hours watching and being watched. Thanks to Zoom school, she told me, “the peer gaze isn’t entirely gone” — but now it can be controlled. “It removes that feeling that someone sitting in the row behind me might be snickering or looking at what I’m wearing,” she said. It removes, in other words, the policing of gender.

To be sure, Ms. Minor’s clients, who are predominantly white, have resources that have protected them in the pandemic. They have supportive families, health care and economic stability. I, too, am white and thus privileged. Like them, I live in the liberal Northeast. For them, as for me, the time at home has been something of a reprieve.

Ms. Minor told me about the change in one client, a young, white, trans girl who had been struggling in school both socially and academically before the pandemic. “What we’re seeing is someone who finally isn’t having all of their space in their head taken up by worrying about their safety, worrying about other people’s perceptions of them,” Ms. Minor said. In her place was now a star student who had been missing.

A similarly liberating shift happened for Tygra Slarii, a 29-year-old Black performer at a Minneapolis bar, The Saloon. Before the pandemic, Mx. Slarii came out as a woman and had gender-affirming breast augmentation. “That’s what it seemed like everyone was pushing for me to do,” Mx. Slarii said, because people kept asking: “So when are you going to have the surgery? When are you going to get your boobs?”

When Minnesota issued shelter-in-place orders, the extended pause gave Mx. Slarii time to question, and explore the complexity of, gender — and come out again, this time as nonbinary. “My body isn’t a tool for marketing my transition anymore,” Mx. Slarii told me. “I don’t think cis people understand how much their input weighs down on trans people, especially when it comes to transitioning.”

When, during the pandemic, Mx. Slarii pursued a second gender-affirming surgery, a Brazilian butt lift, it was an entirely different emotional experience. This time, the surgery was no longer a means of selling a narrative to be believed and seen; now Mx. Slarii’s body was simply their own.

That said, in recent months, trans youth have been under terrifying legislative attack. And as a group, trans people have been hit hard by the pandemic. In January, researchers at Columbia found that many lost access to gender-affirming health care. The pandemic has exacerbated social inequality and injustice across the board; 16.8 percent of trans respondents reported job loss. It is a population already economically and socially marginalized.

Each time another devastating statistic about trans pain emerges, I remember that trans pain is not the birthright of trans people, but it is foisted on us by a world that perennially refuses to let us define ourselves for ourselves and that too often cares about our visibility only as spectacle, not as recognition. Even we ourselves are not immune from this influence. We all internalize the narratives we grow up with.

So let’s also talk about joy. When the world reopens, I suspect that I will be perceived differently — my voice, now lower, will send different signals than it once did; my face now changed by hormones will be seen anew. I have been transformed by this time alone, in which I have had to shore up who I am without the gaze of others defining it for me.

We have all had to find our own paths over this year; we all learned more about ourselves. And have had to ask: Who are we, when no one is looking? Who are we, without what once both held us back and held us up? Whom do we wish to be?

I asked both Ms. Minor and Mx. Slarii what they hope we carry forward as a society from this pandemic time, and to my surprise they gave the same answer. What they wish for on this year’s International Day of Transgender Visibility is us to be able to see one another, and ourselves, with a more compassionate and nuanced eye. Not as what society tells us we must be, but as who we are.

To do that, I think, would be to truly emerge into a world made new.

Alex Marzano-Lesnevich, an assistant professor of English at Bowdoin College, is the author of “The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir” and the forthcoming “Both and Neither.”


Friday, June 02, 2017

my monologue "Becoming a Man" has been chosen for the Boston Actors Theater Summer Play Festival 2017

My monologue about adolescent boys practicing the arts of enforcing gender conformity and social domination has been selected as one of eight short plays for inclusion in the Boston Actors Theater Summer Play Festival 2017.  There will be eleven performances between June 9th and June 25th.   

The producers have described the piece this way: 

Becoming a Man
by Charles Knight

directed by Joey Pelletier

featuring: Chester Domoracki, Eva Bilick, Miranda Reilly, Meg Anchukaitis and Marie Thompson

Becoming a Man tells the story of a struggle for personal dignity and survival during traumatic assault and concludes with important insight into how the decision is made through life experience to fight for rights for all.

More information about the short play festival:

I was the victim of this assault in high school when I was 14 or 15 in the early 1960s.  The assault happened without warning and I had no idea that I would be picked as the "designated deviant" in an almost ritualized "play" constructed (with an unknown degree of intentionality) to affirm the egos and dominance of the perpetrators and to demonstrate to an audience of other youths the danger of any gender non-conformity they might be inclined to perform.

When I joined a monologue writing class forty five years later I thought of this incident as a sort of bullying or hazing.  During that class I was assured by other writers, most of whom had suffered much more violent assaults, that my experience also constituted sexual assault.

My experience was of the type and in the range of ordinary assaults that boys experience growing up -- these most often perpetrated by other boys.  Teenage boys are aware of the social pressure and the adult expectations that they will compete for place in social dominance hierarchies.  Gender behavior (including sexuality) and gender differentiation are principal locations in which these hierarchies are learned and structured.

I now strongly believe that it is important to help men first recall these assaults (which most boys experience to some degree of severity and lasting effect) and then speak and write about them.  This process can have a liberating effect for men who too often are taught to bury the harm done to them in support of gender conformity and for the cause of sustaining relations of domination.

The Boston Actors Theater Summer Play Festival 2017: Fight for Your Rights will open Friday June 9th with eleven shows running through June 25th.  The venue is the Boston Playwrights’ Theater at 949 Commonwealth Ave., Boston. 

I hope you will consider going!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Momentos claves en la contextualización del código de conducta de MenEngage en Nicaragua

Tuesday, January 24, 2017 

Momentos claves en la contextualización del código de conducta de MenEngage en Nicaragua

Douglas Mendoza Urrutia y Ana María Bermúdez

reposted from

Código de Conducta REDMAS

La Red de Masculinidad por la Igualdad de Género de Nicaragua (REDMAS) es una red que llegó a su noveno aniversario con 20 organizaciones de la sociedad civil. Coincidimos organizaciones feministas, organizaciones que trabajan con niños, niñas, adolescentes y jóvenes y grupos de hombres. El objetivo de este artículo es compartir las razones que nos movió a construir nuestro propio Código de Conducta.  Identificamos cuatro momentos claves en este proceso.

Diálogo con el movimiento feminista

El primer momento fue un encuentro con compañeras del movimiento feminista sobre el trabajo de masculinidades. Compartimos la historia del grupo de hombres contra la violencia formada en los años noventa. Preocupados por la violencia contra las mujeres y motivados por las compañeras feministas nos organizamos para hablar sobre nuestras propias vidas y hacer  un trabajo público de concientización.
Muchas compañeras no creían en el trabajo con hombres. Señalaban que posterior a la revolución sandinista los hombres habíamos continuado con el machismo, pese a que la intención era ser hombres nuevos.

Nos dijeron que el trabajo de masculinidades genera discursos igualitarios en los hombres pero pueden seguir siendo machistas en sus vidas cotidianas. Por eso cuestionamos a fondo esas relaciones de poder de los hombres e impulsamos este trabajo desde muchos frentes: las paternidades, la salud sexual y derechos reproductivos, la prevención del VIH y el SIDA, las diversidades sexuales y la prevención de la violencia. 

Las compañeras nos hicieron preguntas que nos cuestionan:

¿Surgió el trabajo de los hombres producto de los malestares de los propios hombres sobre los núcleos duros de su masculinidad o nació por el malestar creciente del feminismo?  

Nos preguntan sobre la intención y las motivaciones más profundas de nuestro trabajo con los hombres. ¿Es para hacer reformas que preserven el poder masculino o es para unirse al movimiento feminista y desmontar el poder masculino patriarcal?

Las compañeras nos dijeron que los hombres tienen que ser interpelados. Aquí está la esencia de la rendición de cuentas. Desaprender el machismo es un proceso lento, con avances y recaídas. Por eso necesitamos esa constante interpelación del movimiento de mujeres. 

Nos señalaron los riesgos de enfoques en el trabajo con hombres donde se diluye el análisis de las relaciones de poder, dejándolo como un problema superficial de comunicación, o se coloca a los hombres en un victimismo (“hombres sufridos por el machismo”), o se teme abordar temas como la homofobia. 

Estas reflexiones críticas nos comprometen a crear más espacios de diálogo con el movimiento de mujeres, forjar alianzas concretas y mejorar nuestras prácticas internas como red.

Código de Conducta de MenEngage 

El segundo momento  influyente en la decisión de construir nuestro Código de Conducta fue la adherencia de nuestra Red al Código de Conducta de MenEngage Global. Pensamos que sería importante trabajar en un documento que normara las relaciones entre hombres y mujeres al interno de REDMAS y con los grupos metas que trabajamos. Vimos que no era suficiente que cada organización tuviese su propia política institucional de protección o código de ética, sino que necesitábamos una como REDMAS.

Taller regional en Auditoría  y Rendición de cuentas

El tercer momento se marca con el taller regional sobre auditoría y rendición de cuentas, que se realizó en Nicaragua, facilitado por MenEngage. Nos dimos cuenta de la dimensión política de la auditoría y rendición de cuentas. Comprendimos que para transformar las relaciones de poder los grupos privilegiados deben rendir cuentas y escuchar la perspectiva de los grupos con menos poder. Por ejemplo, los hombres deben rendir cuentas y escuchar a las mujeres; y las mujeres activistas deben también escuchar a otras mujeres marginadas. Se trata de una herramienta anti-opresiva de alianzas.

Rendir cuentas es compartir con transparencia lo que hacemos y estar dispuestos a ser cuestionados. Urge escuchar y tomar medidas cuando nos señalan prácticas que violan nuestros principios. 

Al final del taller nos comprometimos a firmar el Código de Conducta de MenEngage, tender un puente de diálogo con organizaciones de mujeres que no son de la RED, poner en común la apuesta política de REDMAS con todas sus organizaciones miembros, y replicar los contenidos del taller con las organizaciones miembros.

Taller de réplica con la Asamblea de REDMAS 

El taller de réplica fue el cuarto momento del proceso. Ingenuamente creíamos que todas las personas dentro de la RED establecemos relaciones de respeto y equidad, dado que somos activistas con un compromiso con la igualdad y los derechos humanos. Al abordar la rendición de cuentas, salió a luz situaciones problemáticas dentro de la RED que no se habían abordado. Algunos compañeros estaban tratando en forma sexista a algunas compañeras. Se estaban facilitando actividades educativas con metodologías inapropiadas. 

Concluimos que no se podían seguir permitiendo estas prácticas.  Sin embargo, no teníamos claridad sobre cómo proceder. Era más fácil resolver los análisis de casos teóricos sobre violaciones al Código de Conducta incluidos en el diseño del taller, que enfrentar casos similares en la vida real. 

Teníamos que sentar un precedente, para no dejar el mensaje equivocado de que en REDMAS se encubren esas situaciones pero, ¿Cómo hacerlo? Sentimos mucho temor de que las situaciones se hicieran públicas y perdiéramos nuestra credibilidad como RED. Prevaleció nuestro compromiso de practicar la coherencia entre el discurso y la práctica.

Existen organizaciones que no son de la RED que están haciendo trabajo con hombres con enfoques reforzadores del machismo. También comentamos de líderes de organizaciones acusados por delitos de abuso sexual que han solicitado integrarse a la RED. Esto fue también otra motivación para contar con un Código de Conducta para evitar que organizaciones con prácticas cuestionables ingresen a la RED. Estas situaciones surgidas en el taller aceleró la decisión de contar con un Código de Conducta. Y lo fuimos construyendo en forma participativa con los aportes de todos y todas.


in English:

Key experiences in the contextualization of the MenEngage Code of Conduct in Nicaragua

By Douglas Mendoza Urrutia and Ana María Bermudez

REDMAS Code of Conduct
The Masculinity Network for Gender Equality (RedMas) is a Nicaraguan network of 20 civil society organizations that recently celebrated its ninth anniversary. Among its members are feminist organizations, organizations working children, adolescents and youths and men’s groups. The aim of this post is to share the experiences and reasons that led us to build our own Code of Conduct. We identified four key experiences in this process.

Dialogues with the feminist movement

The first experience was a meeting with compañeras (female comrades) of the feminist movement about work with men and masculinities. We shared the history of the Group of Men Against Violence formed in the 1990s. Concerned about violence against women and motivated by feminist peers, we organized ourselves to work both inwardly, sharing reflections in private circles about our own lives as men, and to start the outward process of reaching out to other men for awareness-raising. 

Many feminist compañeras did not believe in the work with men. They pointed out that even after the triumph of the Sandinista revolution men continued with their machistas tendencies, even though the intention was to be a new man within a just social order.

We were told that the work on masculinities generates egalitarian discourse in men but that many remained macho in their daily lives. That is why we are committed to question the power relations that men establish. That is why we are pushing this work from many fronts: paternity, sexual health and reproductive rights, prevention of HIV and AIDS, sexual diversity and prevention of violence.

The compañeras asked us questions that challenged us:
Did work with men arise out of personal discomfort with the hard cores of their masculinity, or was it born out of solidarity with feminism?

They asked us about the intentions and deeper motivations of our work with men. Is it to make reforms that preserve male power or is it to join the feminist movement and dismantle male patriarchal power?

The compañeras told us that men have to be questioned. Here is the essence of accountability. Unlearning machismo is a slow process, with advances and relapses. That is why we need that constant interpolation of the women's movement.

They also laid out some of the risks of some approaches to working with men: the analysis of power relations may be diluted, reducing it to a superficial problem of communication; placing men in a victims’ role ("men suffering from machismo"); or fearing to address important themes such as homophobia.

These critical reflections commit us to creating more spaces for dialogue with the women's movement, forging concrete alliances and improving our internal practices as a network.

MenEngage Code of Conduct

The second experience influencing the decision to build our Code of Conduct was our Network's decision to adhere to the MenEngage Global Code of Conduct. We thought it would be important to work on a document that would regulate the relationships between men and women within REDMAS and with the target groups we work with. We saw that it was not enough for each organization to have its own institutional policy of protection or code of ethics - we needed one like REDMAS’s.

Regional Workshop on Accountability

The third experience was the regional workshop on accountability, which was held in Nicaragua in 2015, facilitated by the MenEngage Global Secretariat. It was there that we realized the political dimension of accountability. We understood that to transform power relations, privileged groups must be accountable and listen to the perspectives of groups with less power. For example, men should be accountable and listen to women and women activists must also listen to other marginalized women. It is an anti-oppressive alliance tool.

To be accountable is to share with transparency what we do and be willing to be questioned. It is urgently important to listen and take action when others point out practices that violate our principles.

At the end of the workshop, we committed to signing the MenEngage Code of Conduct, building a bridge of dialogue with women's organizations, disseminating our political commitment with all member organizations, and replicating the contents of the workshop with member organizations.

The Replication Workshop with the REDMAS Assembly

The workshop on accountability with our members, also held in 2015, was the fourth experience in this process. We naively believed that all people within the network establish respectful and equitable relationships, since we are activists with a commitment to equality and human rights. In addressing accountability during the workshop, problematic situations within the network that had not been addressed emerged. Some of the male members of the network were behaving in sexist ways toward female members. Some educational interventions were being implemented using inappropriate approaches.

We concluded that these practices could no longer be allowed. However, we did not know how to proceed. It was easier to resolve the theoretical case analyses of violations of the Code of Conduct offered in the workshop than to tackle similar cases in real life.

We had to set a precedent, so as not to leave the wrong impression, that REDMAS was concerned about such situations, but did not address them. We were very afraid that the situations would be made public and we would lose our credibility. Ultimately, our commitment to coherence between discourse and practice prevailed.

There are organizations that are not members of the network but are working with men on gender issues using approaches that reinforce machismo; we have also received requests to join the network from leaders who have been accused of sexual abuse. These were other reasons why we needed a Code of Conduct - to prevent organizations and people with questionable practices from joining the network. The situations discussed during the workshop accelerated the decision to create a Code of Conduct. And we built it in a participatory way, with contributions from everyone.

Friday, April 08, 2016

I Just Joined the North American MenEngage Network

I don't often join organizations.  I don't think of myself as a 'joiner'.

I think that characteristic is due in part to the way many non-profit membership organizations tend to behave in the United States (I don't have any real knowledge about how wide spread this behavior is in other countries.)

I often get the sense that organizations invite me to join so that they can exploit me.

They clearly want me to join so they can raise money from me.  Perhaps, but surprisingly infrequently, they might want my volunteer labor or for me to show up at a demonstration or lobby day.  But almost never do they want my real participation.  It is like the last thing they want is a relationship with members that comes with responsibility.

Most significantly, insubstantial membership definition means no relationship to the governance of the organization. Glaringly many online organizations don't even reveal who are the people on their governing boards or how they elect/appoint their executive staff (let alone what their standards are for staff employment -- pay and benefits.)  Amazingly, their program may be about social justice and/or democracy and the organization doesn't find it important to publicize their policies regarding the relationship of members to governance, staff rights, and equity in employment practice.  With so little impulse for accountability are these really social justice organizations?

Given my assessment above, is it any wonder I am reluctant to join?  Why would I?


For about a year now I have been hearing from several men whose work on gender issues I greatly respect about the formation of the North American affiliate of the international network known as the MenEngage Alliance.   

Today I decided to take a look at the website of the North American MenEngage Network (NAMEN).   I was so pleasantly surprised by what I found.  I had had the impression that the Network was for organizations only, but then I found that it was inviting individuals to become members.  When I looked (with my skeptical glasses on) into this possibility I found that they wanted prospective members to agree to a Core Principles statement and a Code of Conduct.

Once I took the time to read the Principles and the Code of Conduct I was very impressed.  There are fifteen principles listed and I found myself agreeing with every one.  Clearly, this was an organization ready made for me!  Then on to the Code of Conduct.  There are quite a few items in the Code, most having to do with favoring relationships of respect and equality among members.  In terms of the organization itself the last is probably most important:

Ensure Transparency at All LevelsMenEngage Alliance members will strive to be transparent, honest, fair and ethical in  all of its actions, including making public its sources of funding and annual budget  and spending, except in cases where the donor requests to remain anonymous. Transparency also means working collaboratively with local organizations in places where a MenEngage member or network exists.

I don't find many non-profits putting such out front.

Finally, regarding structure and governance this is what I found:

Operating Structure We have an operating structure that includes a Steering Committee and Working Groups. Any member of NAMEN can join a working group.  Steering committee members are elected for three year terms by the membership in the fall of each year.

Now that I am a member, I know the path to leadership in the organization in the event I am interested in that pursuit. Most membership organizations these days don't bother to tell you about such paths. Wonder why not?

In any case, I am so impressed by the Core Principles and Code of Conduct that I am reproducing them here. We need more non-profits to get serious about this kind of relationship with their members.

Members share the following core principles 

The MenEngage Steering Committee organizations and individuals are motivated to work collectively based on the following guiding principles:

  • Gender as relational: In their daily lives, women and men together experience and shape gender roles and relations. MenEngage believes that to transform gender relations, men and women must work together to redefine and build a more just and gender equitable world.
  • Challenging men’s violence against women and children: NAMEN is dedicated to engaging men and boys to end violence against women and children, including sexual assault and trafficking, and in questioning and challenging violent versions of manhood.
  • Challenge men’s violence against men: NAMEN is dedicated to address violence between men, including intimate partner violence, war and conflict, gang-based, bullying, and hate-based violence.
  • Promoting existing UN mandates: We are dedicated to engaging men and boys to fulfill the mandates, statements of action, and principles of ICPD,  CEDAW and CSW statements (48th session), and CRC and working collectively to encourage governments to do the same.
  • Engaging men as caregivers: We are dedicated to promoting more equitable and responsible participation by men and boys in caregiving, the care of children and domestic tasks.
  • Working as allies with existing women’s rights processes: We are committed to working as allies with women and women’s rights organizations to achieve equality for women and girls.
  • Sexual diversity and sexual rights: We are dedicated to promoting cultures of masculinities that respect sexual diversity and sexual and reproductive rights of all, and that engage men so that reproductive health and contraception are more evenly shared between men and women.
  • The vulnerabilities of men: The Network believes that the specific needs and experiences of men and boys have often not been well understood nor taken fully into account in the development of public policy or professional practice across a wide range of areas.   We believe that men and boys, while benefiting from sexism, are also made vulnerable by non-equitable and violent versions of manhood. Men and boys who do not adhere to “traditional” or stereotypical regimens of manhood are particularly vulnerable, even while they continue to receive the personal and institutional benefits their gender affords them.
  • Engaging men from a positive perspective: The Network believes that women and girls, boys and men, and the wider society would benefit from recognition of these issues and appropriate action to transform non-equitable and violent versions of manhood and redress power inequalities related to gender.   We seek to build examples of men acting in gender-equitable and non-violent ways and to imbed those values into institutional practices and public policies, thereby increasing our abilities to positively impact the lives of men and women, girls and boys.
  • Participation: The Network will strive to include and take into account the voices of men and women, boys and girls, at the community level, and the voices of community-level NGOs.
  • Non-discrimination: The Network will actively advocate against, question and seek to overcome, sexism, social exclusion, homophobia, racism or any form of discriminatory behavior against women or gay/bisexual/transgender men and women, or on any other basis. Whenever possible in our activities, programs, and advocacy actions we will seek to explore the intersections between these forms of discrimination and address their impact on gender equality, men’s violence against women, children, and intimate partners, and healthy masculinities.  
  • Transparency: The Network will be transparent, honest, fair and ethical in all of its actions, including making public its sources of funding and annual budget.
  • Collaboration: The MenEngage partners seek to work in collaboration, dialoguing openly about institutional differences and achieving consensus whenever possible.
  • Evidence base:  The MenEngage partners seek to build on evidence-based approaches to engaging men and boys based on the available research as well as experiences in the field.
  • Human rights perspective and life cycle approach:  The partners recognize the need to apply a human rights perspective in all their activities and to take into account a lifecycle and ecological approach that incorporates both the individual as well as the broader social and structural contexts that shape gender inequalities.

North American MenEngage Network
Members share the following Code of Conduct adopted by 
the Global MenEngage Alliance

Adopted 2-5-2014
Full version available for download


MenEngage is a global alliance of NGOs and UN agencies that seeks to engage boys and men to achieve gender equality. As such, all existing and incoming institutional members of the MenEngage Alliance must conduct themselves in a manner that is consistent with the values and principles of the alliance, including the individual/family level --- advancing gender equality, human rights and social justice.

1. Create Peaceful (and Equal) Professional Environments
MenEngage Alliance members spend countless hours every day, week and year working to achieve social justice in local communities and around the world. This same work ethic also applies to our own professional environments. MenEngage Alliance members do not tolerate harassment or threats in any form – verbal, physical, psychological, sexual or visual – that make others feel otherwise unsafe.
Organizationally, this means treating others (including women, children, LGBT individuals, persons with disabilities, etc.) as equals inside the office as well as in communities impacted (directly, as well as indirectly) by our activities, programs and projects. MenEngage Alliance members seek to work collaboratively, dialoguing openly about differences (institutional or otherwise) and achieve consensus building

2. Promote Gender Equality and Social Justice Outside the Workplace
The purpose of MenEngage Alliance is to promote gender equality and social justice, thus it is imperative for the proper functioning of the MenEngage Alliance, and for the maintenance of its integrity and good reputation, that members work with their staff to ensure they uphold principles of gender equality not only in their professional, but also personal lives. This means, but is not limited to, building relationships with women, children, transgender individuals and men founded upon respect, speaking out against violence and injustice in your community, sharing decision-making power with others, respecting human diversity in all its forms, and recognizing and upholding the rights of others in all circumstances, including humanitarian crises situations. It also means being critically aware of the interconnections between gender inequality and other prevalent social and structural injustices such as classism, racism, economic inequality, and homophobia.

3. Do Not Discriminate Against Others
No member of the MenEngage Alliance will discriminate against others for reasons pertaining to national origin, race, color, religion, gender, age, language, physical or mental ability, sexual orientation, socioeconomic or marital status, nor for any other reason. Members who come across such instances of discrimination against women, children, LGBT, or any others will actively question and challenge them both inside and outside the workplace.

4. Be Violence Free
MenEngage Alliance members are committed to the principle of non-violence, under all circumstances, and work to prevent and combat violence in all its forms, including sexual and gender-based violence, violence against women and children and male interpersonal violence. Violation of this principle of non-violence may adversely affect the efforts of MenEngage and lead to the tarnishing of the Alliance’s beliefs and principles. Thus, member organizations must hold all of their staff members accountable to a rigorous antiviolence standard. Violation of this provision may lead to the removal of the member’s affiliation with MenEngage.

5. Prioritize Ethical Standards and the Safety and Well-Being for All - including
Women and Children
MenEngage Alliance members take a “do no harm” approach to the work they do in communities around the world. For this reason, it is important to be aware of how patriarchal structures highlight men’s and boys’ vulnerabilities, and largely place women and children in situations that often cause them the most harm. Members should work on how to prioritize the safety and wellbeing of all individuals impacted by their programs and projects. This includes striving to include and take into account the voices of key stakeholders including men, women, boys, girls, and transgender individuals at the community level, and the voices of local activists and organizations in program design, development and evaluation, as well as any other initiative that aims to engage the community.

Members will also follow international ethical principles and guidelines on research and program implementation such as ensuring participation is always voluntary and informed consent is given. Acquiring consent from children and those in “captive” areas (i.e. schools, prisons) require additional safeguards to ensure participation is always voluntary.

6. Avoid Conflicts of Interest
MenEngage Alliance members have an obligation to do what is in the best interest of the network, in line with its mission and Core Principles. If a staff member is presented with a situation whose outcome creates personal benefit for him or herself, friends or relations, or the member organization, at the expense of the integrity of MenEngage, there may be a conflict of interest and it should be avoided. Carrying out transactions or situations that favour certain organizations or individuals over others can lead to the tarnishing of the MenEngage Alliance’s beliefs and principles.

Additionally, MenEngage Alliance members strive to work transparently and collaboratively across countries with regional and national members of the network wherever they are present.

7. Hold One Another Accountable
MenEngage Alliance members are aware that both their positive and negative actions reflect back upon their organization and the network as a whole. For this reason, while MenEngage aims to recognize the successes of its members, members must also work to hold one another accountable for actions that go against the Principles of the Alliance. Accountability can mean different things depending on the context. It may mean confronting a colleague who makes a sexist comment about women’s bodies, or holding quarterly meetings with key stakeholders such as LGBT groups to ensure that the implementation of an HIV-prevention project is carried out in a collaborative and transparent way. The most important thing to remember is that the integrity of the MenEngage Alliance is dependent upon individuals who are critically aware of their actions as well as those of others, including close friends and colleagues.

A minimum package of requirements is now available for the MenEngage Alliance on accountability that includes how to create strong workplace policies (i.e. child protection, sexual harassment, equal opportunity hiring, etc.), an accountability protocol and a training to ensure that members’ standards of accountability are in line with those of the MenEngage Alliance. These are available now on

8. Ensure Transparency at All Levels
MenEngage Alliance members will strive to be transparent, honest, fair and ethical in  all of its actions, including making public its sources of funding and annual budget  and spending, except in cases where the donor requests to remain anonymous. Transparency also means working collaboratively with local organizations in places where a MenEngage member or network exists.

Should you want to consider joining the Network as an empowered member visit this membership page.