shifting the line

Boys talk on gender, sexism and online ethics

“it’s just um, that thing, where you can’t really express your, feelings too much as a, guy it’s just, sort of a, ye- and as you said it, you have to keep a sort of hard outer shell”

“for my off limit behaviours I put ah, showing emotion at all, yeah, ah in general you’re expected to just not care, and to just not, not have any emotions pretty much”

“I think that, you’re expected to be, as a guy, ah more tough, that kind of indifferent- and like have this hard outer shell, not really show much emotion, um and you’re- on the other hand you’re not, really meant to be, sensitive, and if you’re sensitive people kind of look at you and go, what are you doing? That’s not really, you’re kind of acting like a girl”

“Crying is like taken as a weakness. So like the idea to be a man is to not cry, just get over it. That’s what I was taught, I don’t like it though.”

In Aotearoa New Zealand, as in other parts of the world, we too often hear about the latest instalment of ‘toxic masculinity’ to make the headlines – cases of boys and men acting with a sense of dominance and entitlement, treating women as objects that exist purely for their pleasure or amusement. Globally, the spotlight has increasingly turned to the role of men and boys in countering this kind of sexism, sexual violence and harassment against women and girls, both off and online.

From late 2017 to early 2018, we conducted a short research project to explore a way of working with secondary school age boys and young men to support and facilitate their contribution to positive change away from a culture that tolerates online sexual harassment and sexualized abuse. Our work with boys focussed on online communication between boys and girls, which we framed within a broader context of gender, equality and ethics. We worked with boys who were interested in thinking about these issues and helping provide insights into how boys can promote positive change in their own peer circles in relation to equality. Through workshops, we explored ways of supporting and building on these young men’s willingness to recognise sexism and interrupt harmful gendered norms.

On this website you will not only find information about our research, but also a lot of the resources that helped us to facilitate our workshops. We hope that you will check out our report and our workshop guide, have a look at our videos, and perhaps find some inspiration for running your very own version of the workshops. And if you have any questions, please get in touch.

Ngā mihi,


The Shifting the Line Team


We worked with boys who were open to having challenging conversations about gender and equality. Through our Boys Talk workshops we explored ways of supporting and building on these young men’s willingness to recognize sexism and interrupt harmful gendered norms.


The boys who participated offered comments that provide a window into understanding the gendered sociocultural context that local young men grow up in. Their insights clarify some of ways this context limits boys at the same time as it holds gender inequality in pace.


 We have made our final version of the Boys Talk workshop available for use by those interested in running similar workshops with boys and young men. Here you will find a workshop guide, along with relevant resources to use in the workshops.


Our project has drawn on many different resources, both in our Shifting the Line report and in our Boys Talk workshops. Here we have put all of these resources in one place, including documents for downloading, links to our videos, as well as other helpful links.