Women happy together

Culture Shift

The YWCA Culture Shift Project, a three-year initiative supported by the Government of Canada through Status of Women Canada, aims to shift attitudes and practices that perpetuate the sexualization of women and girls and corresponding hypermasculinization of men and boys.

We know these issues are linked to unhealthy relationships, increased mental health problems and the societal tolerance of violence against women. Through research and broad community engagement, the project focuses on driving systemic change at all levels of civil society.

Sexuality is healthy, sexualization is not.

Media influences how people perceive the world. Often, representations of women and men are skewed, playing into polarized social norms that portray women as passive, sexualized beings and men as aggressive, powerful and hypermasculine. 

Sexualization of women and girls in media is a significant barrier to gender equality. Not only is it linked with increasing mental health issues among young women such as eating disorders and depression, but it also contributes to the societal tolerance of violence against women. Despite these impacts, sexualization occurs in virtually every form of media.

The corresponding hypermasculinization of men and boys equally contributes to mental health issues and unhealthy relationships, and can result in the use of violence to solve problems and deal with negative emotions. The YWCA Culture Shift project addresses these issues through research, advocacy and tools for action.


Read the research

YWCA Media Complaints Toolkit

Media Complaints

Gender stereotypes, objectification and violence in advertising and broadcasting have far-reaching impacts on society. The YWCA Media Complaints toolkit helps you report problematic Canadian media.

Resources for allies, families and educators