Rewriting Masculinity: Larrikins, Power and Accountability

Rewriting Masculinity: Larrikins, Power and Accountability

What kind of stories do we tell about men? Is there enough space within these stories to simultaneously hold men accountable, and encourage them to grow?

Research shows that societal pressure on men to conform to rigid ideals of masculinity (dominance, control, risk-taking, hypersexuality, heterosexuality, stoicism and aggression) is prevalent and dangerous, not just to men themselves, but to the other men, non-binary people and women around them.

The stories told in Australian media can either perpetuate these stereotypes, or challenge them. But for the challenge to be meaningful, those leading the conversation must unpack gender inequality, male power and privilege, while also addressing other systems of oppression, including racism, homophobia and classism.

In this conversation, we hear from Lech Blaine, author of the Quarterly Essay ​​'Top Blokes: The Larrikin Myth, Class and Power'; Tarang Chawla, advocate and founder of Not One More Niki; and Shaun Braybrook, general manager of Wulgunggo Ngalu Learning Place. With host Sarah McCook, they explore the challenges and opportunities of redefining the masculine experience. Can the work of rewriting masculinity actually prevent men’s violence against women? And how can Australian media give greater representation to diverse and positive forms of masculinity, while also holding men accountable?

Our Watch’s Cameron McDonald has written a report on the outcomes of the discussion, published here on our website.

Content warning: This event may include discussion of violence against women. To talk with someone about violence or abuse contact:

1800 737 732 

Yarning safe 'n' strong (Victoria)
1800 959 563
Facebook @YarningSafenStrong

Men’s Referral Services
1300 766 491

Relationships Australia
1300 364 277

Lifeline (24-hour crisis line)
131 114


Portrait of Lech Blaine

Lech Blaine

Lech Blaine is the author of the memoir Car Crash and the Quarterly Essay, Top Blokes: The Larrikin Myth, Class and Power. His writing has appeared in The Monthly, Guardian Australia, The Best Australian Essays, Griffith Review, Kill Your Darlings and Meanjin. He was an inaugural recipient of a Griffith Review Queensland Writing Fellowship. 

Portrait of Tarang Chawla

Tarang Chawla

In 2015, Tarang Chawla’s sister, Nikita, was just 23 when she was murdered by her partner while she slept. Because of the horrific nature of the attack, Nikita’s murder generated significant media attention. Ever since, Tarang has been campaigning to end violence against women and their children with a particular focus on ensuring that survivors’ stories are shared in a safe, sensitive and responsible way.

Portrait of Shaun Braybrook

Shaun Braybrook

Shaun Braybrook is a proud Aboriginal man who follows his grandfather line to the Kuku-Yalanji people. Shaun has been working with the Victorian Koori community for around 28 years.

Portrait of Sarah McCook

Sarah McCook

Sarah McCook is a feminist gendered violence researcher living and working on unceded Wurundjeri Country. Sarah is a current PhD candidate with the Social & Global Studies Centre at RMIT University examining Australian men's lived experiences of masculinity, normativity and social change.