Men’s Manifesto 2012

I’m proud to be a part of a growing movement—a multiracial, multicultural, global movement of men who are challenging male violence and outdated notions of masculinity.

I have been inspired by, taught by and befriended by men across the world who have dedicated their lives to reducing male violence. Men and boys around the world work for domestic violence programs and rape crisis centers. They donate and raise money for women’s groups. They organize and participate in community walks and wear White Ribbons. Men Can (and do) Stop Rape and Men (are) Stopping Violence. There is a growing Call to Men to become part of the solution.

We men have listened to and learned from women. We often forget to give women the credit they are due, and sometimes claim their ideas as our own. But the heart of this growing men’s movement rests in the intelligence, kindness, confrontation and love from the strong women in our lives.

We are men and boys who are proud to be working to stop male violence. We are proud to be men who welcome non-traditional expressions of what it means to be a man. We will be our own role models, applauding each non-traditional male role model who appears in film and television. As representations of manhood diversify, we will welcome the by-product of such diversity—acceptance and celebration of all varieties of manhood.

We are proud to be gay men and bisexual men. We are proud to be heterosexual men working to end homophobia.

We are proud to be transgender men.

We are proud to be African-American, Latino, Asian/Pacific Islander, Native American men. We are proud to be white male allies against racism and sexism.

We are proud to have survived violence ourselves. We are rape and incest survivors, survivors of intimate partner violence at the hands of women and men.

We work to end all violence against all people, even as we work to end the epidemic of male violence against girls and women.

We love other men. We will boldly express our love of other men with hugs, tears, high-fives, handshakes, holding hands and kisses—sometimes with sex. We will sometimes choose a man as a beloved life partner.

We love women. Knowing that our gender perpetrates violence and sexism, we pledge to change ourselves and the world. Rather than riding in on a white horse, we will partner with women and support women’s leadership in stopping violence and sexism.

We love our families. Those of us who are fathers love our children. We reject the aloof father image. We realize that our children’s happiness depends on treating their mother with dignity, respect and love.

When a boy dresses like a princess, we will embrace him as we embrace the boy who hits a home run. We will embrace boys wearing skirts, boys wearing makeup, boys wearing black and boys with piercings.

When a boy cries, we will comfort him. We will cry with him.

We will celebrate boys with long hair and short hair—running boys and boys in wheelchairs—ballet dancing boys and cheerleader boys. We will celebrate shy boys, singing boys, kind boys and poet boys.

We will stand up against injustice. We will speak out against it, and will listen without defensiveness when it is pointed out in us. Strength as men will be measured not just by how many weights we can lift, but by how well we can listen.

We realize that in pledging to be part of the solution, we also must acknowledge that we have been (and still are) part of the problem.

We pledge to listen to women and learn from women.

We pledge to be accountable to women’s leadership in stopping men’s violence, and to be accountable to our own male privilege.

As the White Ribbon Campaign asks, we pledge to never commit, condone or remain silent about men’s violence against women. We choose to respect, seek equality with and share power with the girls and women in our lives. We encourage, demand and expect other men and boys to do the same.

Excerpted from Men Speak Out: Views on Gender, Sex and Power, edited by Shira Tarrant

Images of UK White Ribbon Campaign posters from Flickr user kilcolman under license from Creative Commons 2.0


  1. Grissel Garcia says:


  2. “We realize that in pledging to be part of the solution, we also must acknowledge that we have been (and still are) part of the problem.”

    Are you seriously saying my gender makes me part of the problem? Didn’t anyone tell you that feminism has moved on since the 60’s? I did not choose my gender, I cannot change it. If that makes me part of the problem, why should I ever question my behaviour?

    • No, our gender doesn’t make us part of the problem, but our privilege does. It’s a hard fact to accept that something we can’t change makes us more privileged than others, but we need to accept it, and challenge it. You didn’t choose your gender, but you can choose to either accept the place the patriarchy puts you in society, or you can choose to reject it, and tell others to do the same.

      • It would help if you didn’t use feminist buzz-jargon (e.g. “patriarchy”). Non-feminist people don’t typically respond well when feminists impose their semantics. So if you want to sell feminism, it would be a wise marketing plan to not alienate your potential customers. Stop spoiling your brand.

  3. You had me until you started talking about “male privilege,” which has lost prominence in much of Western society. Too many people confuse “male privilege” with “rich privilege,” simply because most rich and powerful people happen to be men. They also happen to make up less then 1% of any given population, and do not have the best interests of either men or women in mind.

    • Agree!!!! Got really pretentious and pious at the end talking about being part of problem and privilege. I know plenty of men who would be really turned off by such a vague generalized and inaccurate statement

    • michele marino says:

      If “Male Privilege” had lost prominence in much of Western society, we wouldn’t be still dealing with a 23% gender wage gap, we wouldn’t be fighting for contraception and a right to choose whether or not to carry a pregnancy to full term. If “Male Privilege” had lost prominence in Western Society, thousands of single mothers and children wouldn’t be homeless because we would have “family friendly” work environments, and government supported childcare. In the last 5 years there has been a 110% increase in homelessness in Los Angeles County alone, consisting of mostly single mothers and their children. Male privilege is still alive and oppressive and continues to destroy lives. Remember.. The privileged are not aware that they are privileged, however, if you were being oppressed, you would know it.

      • just an honest question…what is definition of “male privilege” I for one agree that there is still “privilege” in society, but not every man feels the benefits of this. All I was saying was that by definition, i think it’s wrong to say all men are part of problem and privileged.

        Finally, I don’t thnk right to choose, family friendly work environments, and homelessness relate to “male privilege.” Granted, each issue affects women greater then men, but I don’t think it’s because of privilege.

        • John Bartelloni says:

          At Tier One Domestic Violence training Saturday, we learned that privilege is not missed by those who have it. We take it for granted.

          Ben is right. We have listened to and learned from women. We need to acknowledge our indebtedness.

          Many men discount the pain of women. We need to hear from the women in our lives how they have suffered.

        • ” If “Male Privilege” had lost prominence in Western Society, thousands of single mothers and children wouldn’t be homeless because we would have “family friendly” work environments, and government supported childcare. In the last 5 years there has been a 110% increase in homelessness in Los Angeles County alone, consisting of mostly single mothers and their children.”

          Men are and always have been the majority of the total homeless population representing about 51% of he single homeless. We talk about homeless families and forget there are men and boys are in families. The fact male suffering is ignored does not make them magically privileged. Things like men being 90% of the prison population for example of less likely to graduate from high school or college, or being 4 times more likely to commit suicide or be murdered isn’t a minor issue.

  4. I love this! If only all or even most men would agree and live by these beautiful principles.

  5. Not all men are rapists. Let’s remember that please, ladies!

  6. Wonderful. We can only be liberated if we all work together, men, women and all genders in-between.


  7. This was great! These are all Rules & Principles that everyone should follow.

    Thanks for standing up for Equality! 😀

  8. Chris, saying “not all men are rapists” is a form of derailing, because it moves the focus away from the actual problem (men who ARE rapists) and puts it on the few good guys, who as lovely as they can be, can’t seem to deal with not being the center of attention for five minutes. By saying stuff like that, you are forcing women to spend their time soothing your hurt feelings rather than addressing the real, dire problems at hand – rape culture and violence.

    If you’re one of the good guys, great. Know that in your heart. But don’t demand that women spend all of their energy on reassuring you of that fact.

    To “a man”: You did not choose your gender. And we did not choose to live in a patriarchal society. However, the facts are the facts. You are a man in a world where men continue to dominate and subjugate women in most areas of life. Feminism is about confronting the system, not YOU personally – but every man in a patriarchy has contributed to misogyny in some small way throughout his life. Why? Because you were rigorously raised and trained to do so. Please question your behavior on that basis – not because you were born male, but because you were socialized as a man in a patriarchy.

  9. This is great…..too often the gender equality ‘debate’ is women speaking to women… I’ll post on my website also

  10. I will NEVER support anybody who talks about “male violence” in a one-sided way with never a word about female violence. I will NEVER support anybody who talks about so-called “male privilege” with never a word about the female counterpart. I will NEVER support anybody who promotes the sexist idea that “men are the problem”, and never a word that women, too, are the problem — in fact, fully one-half of it! To summarize, I will lend absolutely no support of any kind to this contemptible farce of a so-called “men’s movement”. Nor should ANY self-respecting man on planet Earth ever do so.


    • As he says in the article:

      “We are proud to have survived violence ourselves. We are rape and incest survivors, survivors of intimate partner violence at the hands of WOMEN AND MEN.

      We work to end ALL violence against all people, EVEN AS we work to end the epidemic of male violence against girls and women.”

      There definitely are violent women, and women also have to make sure that we “pledge to never commit, condone or remain silent about [our] violence.”
      However, sadly, at the moment 95% of the violence perpetuated against women, children and other men is by men. That’s a frightening figure. Women have been trying to deal with this (sometimes by becoming violent ourselves when push comes to shove), but we can’t do it by ourselves and many men are sick of it themselves. They are sick of being labelled as violent and as rapists, even though they aren’t personally. They are sick of being socialised to be violent. Many women are sick of being raised to be princesses and victims and many men are sick of being raised to be the knight and the violent perpetrator. That is what they want to change.

  11. I found the Men’s Manifesto uplifting. Then was extremely saddened by the comments. I would think that men reading the Ms. Blog would be more supportive. Denying that male privilege exists and that we have ‘moved on’ – that does indeed make you part of the problem.
    As a mother of a son and a daughter, and as a teacher of young children, I see gender socialization being thrust upon our children today. While there have been some small strides in empowering girls that they can be tough, strong, and brave, boys are still ridiculed for doing ballet, wearing pink, having long hair, and liking fairys. Just look at the toy isles–dolls and ponies for girls, guns and cars for boys. As a society what are we doing to empower boys to become caring, loving men?
    I am fortunate to be married to one of the ‘good guys’. A man and elementary educator who has broadened his perspectives, taken women’s studies classes (often the only male in the class), and brought home the following two posters to put on our fridge: Feminism is for Everybody. Big Hearts Can Break Patriarchy.
    So, for those of you who feel frustrated at the lack of male understanding, know that there are men out there who do acknowledge their male privilege, and are working to stop it, by talking to other men, but most especially by working with the next generation of young people to teach the truth about privilege and oppression, in all its forms.
    For those needing more education on the matter, I recommend the book Privilege, Power, and Difference by Allan Johnson.

  12. For those who don’t know for sure or who are obviously confused about the term “male privilege,” I suggest reading Peggy McIntosh’s White Privilege and Male Privilege. Honestly, until I was 20, I didn’t understand the term “white privilege” and didn’t see my own privileges in society (I am white). I grew up in a small town in the middle of Iowa (VERY few people of color) and thought that this white privilege thing was something that eroded with a lot of history. I was then required to read McIntosh for a college course. My professor, a white, heterosexual, male, feminist (one of my favorite educators ever), instructed each of us to write a list of how we were privileged in one way or another (be it race, gender, nationality). I chose to focus on my nationality and I came up with enough privileges to fill two sides of the paper and still had thoughts in my head.

    MALES…try this exercise! I dare you. If you can answer yes to at least one of these questions, then you are privileged based on your gender: 1) I can be assured that my gender will be represented in government (at all levels). 2) I can walk down a dark street, alone, without fear/thought of being raped. 3) I can be assured that if I am denied birth control, it is not because of my gender. 4) I am reading this right now and have never considered any of the previous statements.

    (Please don’t nick-pick….some of these items will NOT apply to all men and some of them do not apply to all women). ALSO, abril and michele marino give good information!

  13. What a great article! I am…. WOMEN are, so happy to know that there are men out there who are as interested as we are for these issues, because they ARE everybody’s issues.
    I think the first thing to be able to understand and recognize what is mentioned here, is, in fact, knowing that men, in general, but especially white males, DO have privileges, that have been created by our patriarchal society, by the fake role models and stereotypes that some people accept and even choose to emulate, and how they are used against women most of the time. Once that is recognized, the rest becomes very obvious.
    We are glad to count on men like you, that truly stand up and deliver! Hope to meet you some day!!!

  14. Patrick Donovan says:

    As a man who has worked in rape crisis centers and domestic violence agencies, I feel proud and hopeful to see campaigns that reach out to men to help stop men’s violence against women. Programs like Men Can Stop Rape & MyStrength/MiFuerza provide opportunities for young men to stand up and speak out as allies with young women. I have witnessed young men challenge their peers and themselves on abusive or sexist attitudes and behaviors. As one of their female classmates told them, “You standing up and saying, ‘I’m a guy, and I’m not OK with this,’ – that means something and it does make a difference.”

  15. Ruth Jewell says:

    No doubt that there is some violence and sexism from all corners but if any of the naysayers would look at the TRUE statistics they will see the wide difference in who the offenders are. No one that I know of disputes that it is not just women that are victimized..we only quote the disparity, and it is huge…I ask all men,when was the last time you walked down the street in broad daylight and had to keep looking over your shoulder, or had to feel fear walking through a crowd of men for fear that you would hear wolf whistles and cat calls? When did you fear being in a stair or hallway with a person of the opposite sex that you didn’t know? when did you have to stay out of an establishment so no one would say “you went there ,you must have been asking for it” or how about this one.” if you hadn’t worn those jeans/shorts/shirt out, you wouldn’t have gotten raped” or ” you had a drink with her you must have wanted sex so don’t complain when she “TOOK” it and a million and one other stupid thoughts that “just because of this or that” women deserve to be beaten and raped. And then of course when it come to the domestic violence part ” well if you had cleaned the house the way I said you were supposed to I wouldn’t have to beat you, ” if you didn’t talk to your friends I wouldn’t have to beat you, ” if you didn’t spend MY money I wouldn’t have to beat you , PLEASE tell me when that happened to YOU MEN of this world. Or even better yet tell me when it happened MORE OFTEN to MEN than to WOMEN. There is absolutely NO REASON that MEN cannot start a movement to end abuse against them rather than attempt to protect offenders by spewing the whining “oh this happens to us too” crap..

  16. Daphne Thompson says:

    I am so encouraged by the passion and intention Ben Atherton-Zeman has shown here. The Men’s Manifesto 2012 is very balanced, humble, and full of passion. The fact that there is a movement like this taking place is so encouraging. To see men understand their position of privilege and to actively pursue changing this will make a difference. In a culture of male privilege, it requires a certain amount of courage to stand up for what is right and I am so grateful to all of the men who do so each and every day.

  17. I am a man who would not fit what some of the previous posts would seem to assume male privilege, I am a gay white male from a lower class upbringing, and these things have caused me oppression from both men and women who have more social power however I know and understand that these things are also powerfull and allow me to achievethings that others may no. We cannot just assume that be cause me don’t do some of the more violent/ power driven things attributed to men that we are not powerful and unless we challenge that we allow others to do do those things un checked. Also for the women out there please don’t assume you are not powerful as well, depending on your class, gender and sexuality you can have power over other men and women to a destructive level as well.
    I believe that this is a manifesto for all people and that men need to wake up and realise that they are part of that!

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