The Pixel Project is pleased to welcome a guest “16 For 16” article from our partner MenChallenging, an organisation that challenges men to prevent gender violence and support its victims and survivors.

There are as many definitions of what it means to be a man and what it means to be a father as there are men. As more men and boys worldwide become aware of gender norms and the pressure they can cause – as well as their connection to the global epidemic of gender-based violence – more men and boys are looking for something they can do to change the status quo.

And at MenChallenging that is what we like to see! We believe that as men and boys it is way past time for us to evaluate and challenge the unhealthy messages about gender, sex, and violence around us, and to take up our responsibility for it. We must create space for men to define masculinity for ourselves, without pressure or coercion, which will lead to healthier and less violent communities for us all.

With that, we present to you 16 things that fathers of all kinds can do to change our culture. We tried to come up with a range of ways to take action. Read each day’s action and associated resources to learn more, and if you have any questions or ideas for actions to take, get in touch with MenChallenging!

Join us in making a better world for all the kids!



Action Item For Dads #1: “What is a dad, anyway?”

How to Take Action: What defines a dad? What attributes make a good, loving, effective dad? Who can be a dad? Take some time to think concretely and critically about these questions, and about what it means to be a dad to you. Talk to dads and other people you know. Jot down your ideas if it helps. Think about where you got these ideas – who or what has influenced your ideas about being a dad? Have you ever thought about this question before? Think about your answers, and then look critically at which parts of being a dad you are proud of and want to continue, and which areas you might want to change or improve. Think about the best ways to do so, check out fatherhood resources, and talk with any friends or family that might be able to help you figure things out!

To learn more:


Action Item For Dads #2: “What do people say about dads?”

How to take action: We get messages from all around us about what it means to be a parent. Where do you see messages about fatherhood as you go about your day? Pay attention to things like the advertisements and entertainment you consume, and your interpersonal interactions, but also to institutions like your school or workplace, social media platforms, your place of worship, and more.

What messages do you see and hear – about dads? Moms? How do gender, race, sexual orientation, immigration, age, and other themes play out in these messages? Do the messages about dads represent you? Would you like them to or would you like to change something about yourself or about these messages? Who are your dad role models?

To learn more:

Action Item For Dads #3: Support women’s rights

How to take action: Womens’ reproductive rights and health are in greater jeopardy than they have been in a very long time. This is an opportunity that dads of all kinds must use to support women and create change – if for no other reason than because these issues affect men as well.

To learn more:


Action Item For Dads #4: Hold your workplace, alma mater, and fantasy football league accountable when they support gender violence

How to take action: Institutions, organisations, and systems as well as individuals use language, actions, policies, and more that either promote or prevent gender violence. There is little if any neutral ground. Some actions might be intentional and overt such as protecting the reputation of your organisation over the safety and health of women and others, while others might be unintentional – but the outcomes are the same.

Take a look at the communities, organisations, social circles, and other groups you belong to, and especially those you may have some authority in. Observe and ask yourself how folks talk about: women and girls, about sex, about race and LGBTQ issues? About immigrant or native women? About sexual or domestic violence? What do folks joke about? Are you comfortable with all aspects of the culture of the groups you are a part of? If not, say something. Interrupt problematic behavior, challenge policies, and change the culture.

To learn more:


Action Item For Dads #5: Talk to your kids – all your kids – about respect and consent, and practice it too

How to take action: If you don’t talk about something, your children won’t learn how to talk about it either. As fathers, it is important to make sure we talk to our children to keep things from becoming “taboo.” With the access kids have to information on the internet, they will find answers to their questions. It is up to fathers to help engage and frame the language of their questions.

List out the topics that you would feel more or less comfortable talking about with your kids. Then connect to other parents and resources that can help you get ready to have those conversations! Be open and honest about what you know and what you don’t, and be transparent when you are not comfortable and why.

To learn more:


Action Item For Dads #6: Take visible action, big and small

How to take action: Since unhealthy gender norms and gender violence are a big part of our culture and society, there are numerous ways to take action – on an individual level, with your peers, in your community, and within larger institutions. Do something.

To learn more:

Action Item For Dads #7: Do your homework

How to take action: Times they are a-changing, as they always are. Do what you can to learn about gender norms and gender identity, sexual orientation, social media, and technology. Ask your kids, google, take a course. You will be amazed how it changes your life, too.

To learn more:


Action Item For Dads #8: Don’t allow others to speak for you when they promote gender-based violence and violence against women

How to take action: Sometimes this is done overtly, perhaps nowhere as overtly as this phenomenon here, which can be seen on a few campuses every summer. It doesn’t get more obvious when young men speak directly to dads, telling what will happen to their daughters in the language of rape culture. And yet most dads are silent on the issue of campus sexual assault and more. Speak up. As a parent. As a dad. As an alum. As a human being.

To learn more:


Action Item For Dads #9: Model respect for all women, not just the women in your life

How to take action: Stop using phrases like, “Because I have a wife…” or “Because I have a daughter…” A father is often a role model for their kids and others. How you respect all of the women in your life shows clearly the value you place in women. “What if it was your daughter?” can be a powerful question to ask, but women’s value should never be tied to their relationships to men. ●  Speak up and interrupt sexist behavior when you hear or see it. Don’t stay silent if it is targeting someone you don’t know personally. Not sure how? Not comfortable doing so? Check out these resources on intervening.

To learn more:


Action Item For Dads #10: Start or join a dad’s group!

How to take action: They are out there! There are dad groups online and IRL for almost every kind of dad. Look for them and be picky. What are you looking for? A space to vent with folks who understand your situation? Support when you need it? Resources for you, your partner, your kids? If you can’t find a group for you, start one. Start local and start simple.

To learn more:

  • MenChallenging is honored to be a part of a project by member Brian Anderson called Fathering Together. Check it out, submit your story and share your experiences of fatherhood with others. On Facebook, Brian also works with Dads with Daughters, Bunch of Dads, and other similar groups.
  • City Dads Groups is dedicated to connecting dads in real life to support the challenges of raising daughters, maintaining friendships, and having fun along the way.

Action Item For Dads #11: Challenge harmful norms of fatherhood

How to take action: Fatherhood and dads are not immune from the messages society sends about what it means to “be a man” or “act like a lady”. Some of those negative messages and norms become “naturalised” in the context of being a dad. Ideas about “protecting our daughters” and “toughening up our sons”, about what it would mean to have a son who doesn’t live up to “real manhood”, about who “wears the pants” in your family. Look critically about what you were taught about gender norms, and which ones you are modelling for your kids and others.

To learn more:


Action Item For Dads #12: Practice equity in household chores

How to take action: This is a good example of one concrete way dads can take seemingly small action that has long-lasting positive effects.

“When fathers play an active and equal role in the household and are a positive presence, it relieves the burden of care on mothers and is associated with a household where violence is less likely to take place.”

To learn more:

  • Read this to start!


Action Item For Dads #13: Support your LGBTQ kids

How to take action: Be supportive and accepting of LGBTQ youth – especially your children – can save lives. If for no other reason, dads can play a huge role in the wellbeing of their kids and others. Unsupported LGBTQ youth are overrepresented in a variety of struggles from homelessness to suicide. We must all do better for LGBTQ youth, and dads can play a huge role in this.

To learn more:

  • PFLAG is an organisation of parents who have been supporting their LGBTQ youth for decades.
  • The Trans Youth Equality Foundation provides great resources for parents here.


Action Item For Dads #14: Talk to other parents. Read and listen to their stories

How to take action: Being a parent can be tough and complicated. It can also be isolating if you don’t have a community of support. When kids ask questions and you don’t know the answer, when they hit a developmental stage that leaves you bewildered, talking with other parents will help you navigate those moments. In addition to starting or joining dad groups (see #10 above) you can start even smaller. Talk to your dad. Talk to moms. Talk to other parents. Talk to your kids!

To learn more:

Action Item For Dads #15: Take care of yourself, dad

How to take action: Most boys and men are told to play through the pain, to suck it up, to not cry or show our emotions (except of course for anger). This often leads to problems being aware of and understanding how we feel, and therefore affects our ability to empathise with others. But it also means serious potential consequences for us ourselves, in regards to mental, emotional, and physical health. So make sure to do what you can to take care of yourself, other dads, and others around us!

To learn more:


Action Item For Dads #16: Support efforts to end gender-based violence

 How to take action: We believe it is part of our responsibility as people and parents specifically to try and do at least a little better than the generation before us. One key way to do that is by supporting and working with organisations that are fighting to end gender-based violence in all its forms (domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, sexual harassment, street harassment, stalking, and more).

To learn more:

  • The Pixel Project, MenChallenging, and some of the organisations and resources listed above can help you figure out simple, concrete ways to take action.

Photo credits

  1. Photo 1: Photo by Brett Sayles from Pexels
  2. Photo 2 – From Wikipedia (By Ximenabc – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,
  3. Photo 3 – From Wikipedia (By Nithi Anand, CC BY 2.0,
  4. Photo 4 – From Wikipedia (By Andreas Bohnenstengel, CC BY-SA 3.0 de,
  5. Photo 5 – From Wikipedia (By USFWS,