Episode 13

Published on:

31st Mar 2022

Prof Nicole Westmarland - Men’s Activism to End Violence Against Women and Girls

Some men are playing an active part in speaking out against violence towards women – but not nearly enough. So how do those men who are involved in anti-violence activism come to that position, and what can we learn from their experiences? March 2022 marks one year since Sarah Everard was murdered by a serving police officer, and given the anger this precipitated about the continued prevalence of violence against women and girls in the UK, this is a vital moment to consider what has changed since then, and what change remains needed – especially regarding men’s role in the solution. To explore these issues further, we speak to Professor of Criminology Nicole Westmarland. Nicole is the Director of Durham University’s Centre for Research into Violence and Abuse (http://www.dur.ac.uk/criva), and is internationally recognised for her research in this area. Together with colleagues in Sweden and Spain, Nicole and Now and Men hosts Sandy and Stephen wrote a book entitled ‘Men’s Activism to End Violence Against Women’, published by Policy Press in 2021.

The book is available to buy, or for free as an open access e-book, here: https://policy.bristoluniversitypress.co.uk/mens-activism-to-end-violence-against-women. We have also written two pieces for The Conversation UK, ‘How men can be allies to women right now’: https://theconversation.com/how-men-can-be-allies-to-women-right-now-157126 and ‘Sarah Everard, police culture and the ‘masculinised’ workplaces we can all help change’: https://theconversation.com/sarah-everard-police-culture-and-the-masculinised-workplaces-we-can-all-help-change-169774. In addition, we have produced a toolkit for the UK Government Equalities Office on ‘Engaging with men and boys about masculine gender norms’: http://dur.ac.uk/criva/geotoolkit/

Nicole has also written a number of other books, including 'Violence Against Women - Criminological Perspectives on Men's Violences' (Routledge, 2015): https://www.routledge.com/Violence-against-Women-Criminological-perspectives-on-mens-violences/Westmarland/p/book/9781843923985 and ‘Researching Gender, Violence and Abuse’ (Routledge, 2019): https://www.routledge.com/Researching-Gender-Violence-and-Abuse-Theory-Methods-Action/Westmarland-Bows/p/book/9781138641266. She has co-led one of the biggest pieces of research about work with perpetrators of domestic abuse in the UK, Project Mirabal: https://projectmirabal.co.uk. You can find out more about Nicole's work here: https://www.durham.ac.uk/staff/nicole-westmarland/, and follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Nwestmarland.

We cover the following topics in this episode:

  • What has changed in the year since Sarah Everard was murdered
  • The implications of this case for the police and for workplaces
  • Why Nicole wanted to research men who speak out against violence towards women
  • Key factors in why men get involved in this kind of activism
  • Potential tensions when men become anti-violence activists
  • Male victim-survivors’ experiences of domestic abuse 
  • Nicole’s journey to becoming a professor – including her work and research as a taxi driver
  • The impact of doing this research on being a parent
  • Work with perpetrators of domestic abuse and men’s capacity to change
  • Meaningful things men can do to stop violence against women


For domestic abuse support in the UK, contact the National Helpline: https://www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk, the Men’s Advice Line: https://mensadviceline.org.uk, or the Respect Phoneline if you’re concerned about your own behaviour: https://respectphoneline.org.uk

If you've been affected by sexual violence, information and support is available from Rape Crisis: https://rapecrisis.org.uk/get-help/

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About the Podcast

Now and Men
Current conversations about men's lives
What's it like to be a man in the 21st century? How are feminist issues relevant to men and boys? These questions are being discussed more than ever.

Our monthly podcast delves into these issues with experts such as practitioners, activists and academics. In each episode, you’ll hear in-depth conversations about masculinity, gender equality, and the lives of men and boys, with topics ranging from preventing violence against women, to promoting active fatherhood, to supporting men's health.

The podcast is created and hosted by Dr Stephen Burrell, Sandy Ruxton and Professor Nicole Westmarland, who are researchers from the Centre for Research into Violence and Abuse (CRiVA), in the Department of Sociology at Durham University in the UK. If you would like to give us your feedback, suggest a guest, or have a question you'd like us to discuss, get in touch with us at nowandmen@gmail.com.

About your hosts

Stephen Burrell

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I am a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow in the Department of Sociology at Durham University in the UK, and a Deputy Director of the Centre for Research into Violence and Abuse (CRiVA). My research is about men and masculinities - especially preventing men's violence against women, and currently, engaging men and boys in caring for the planet. I'm also a trustee for White Ribbon UK and on the steering group for Changing Relations CIC. In my spare time I'm a big fan of drinking tea and being in nature.

Sandy Ruxton

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Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Sociology at Durham University (UK). Independent researcher, expert on men and masculinities. Previous policy work on human rights, children and families, poverty and social exclusion, and asylum and migration. Programme experience with boys and young men in schools, community, and prisons. Steering Committee member, MenEngage Europe. Volunteer for OX4 Food Crew. Chess-player, bike-rider, tree-hugger. Great grandfather edited Boy's Own Paper, but was sacked.