+M Foundation 13–15 MINS READ September 1st, 2023

Positive masculinity


Positive masculinity

What makes a good man these days?

We live in a world where the idea of how we see ourselves as people can have an impact on our health. Our mental health impacts our lives significantly: from day to day interactions with others, to setting meaningful goals that help us to have a sense of purpose in life, to dealing with the stresses of the modern world.

It is vital that we help our boys to learn skills, attitudes and behaviours to be life-ready. Parenting expert Steve Biddulph believes ‘backbone and heart’ is the answer to the question ‘What makes a good man these days?’ – but is there more?

Positive masculinity (+M) defined

Put simply, positive masculinity is the expression of attitudes and behaviours (character strengths and virtues which any gender might have) that have been embodied and enacted by males for the common good, both individually and for the community.

+M is a perspective that accentuates the strengths and beneficial aspects of a masculine identity (Kiselica & Englar-Carlson, 2010).

The pressure to achieve, prove and maintain one’s masculinity remains largely constant for boys and young men (Kimmel, 2006; Vandello & Bosson, 2013; Vandello, Bosson et al., 2008). Intervention and positive guidance are necessary to offset the current social depiction of masculinity (Kupers, 2005), where men are commonly depicted as aggressive or violent, unemotional and non-nurturing (Collier, 1998; Connell & Messerschmidt, 2005). Positive masculinity is a way to change the conversation.

What we are doing: +M Framework

Brighton Grammar and Orygen (Australia’s peak adolescent mental health organisation authority) have teamed up to create a framework of best practice for boys and young men. Called Positive Masculinity (+M), it will be a set of practices, curriculum and evidence-based advice for boys, their parents, guardians and teachers. This framework will be developed and tested at Brighton Grammar, a school with its own centre for research, and then shared both nationally and internationally for the benefit of all.

Factors of Positive Masculinity and the +M Framework

In developing a framework, our belief is that there are two major factors to be considered when it comes to positive masculinity – ‘knowing’ and ‘being’.

Knowing: is about providing boys and young men, as well as their parents and teachers with content knowledge about positive masculinity. It includes character strengths and virtues (for instance non-violence), tools for self-reflection, links to curriculum, positive masculinity heroes (in life and fiction) and understanding the role of various services (including mentoring). The ‘knowing’ factor also emphasises the importance of engagement.

Being: is an understanding that there isn’t one ‘perfect version’ of a man. It’s a choice — moment by moment, day by day.

The positive masculinity framework therefore proposes there are three elements for young men and boys to develop positive masculinity in their lives. Namely, that they are authentic, connected and motivated.


That boys and young men are confident and content, kind and compassionate, in their sense of self


That they have relationships formed on respect and trust


To do and be a good person

The overall goal is that we want our boys and young men to base their decisions on the collective wisdom and practice of what it is to be a good person — as Plato once posited: the true, the beautiful and the good. Applying this framework to guide intervention in positive masculinity development in adolescence will help to establish a positive developmental pathway for our boys and young men.

How you can help


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